ATHENS- KC opened Southwest Junior College Football Conference play on the road Saturday, upsetting Trinity Valley Community College 34-16 to remain unbeaten (3-0) in the young season.
Both teams were ranked heading into the contest – Kilgore at No. 19 and Trinity Valley at No. 11. Following the Rangers’ win, TVCC dropped out of the latest poll and the Rangers moved up to No. 10.
“It’s obviously a great win,” KC head coach J.J. Eckert said. “I mean, we knew we were coming over here and running into a very talented football team. We came out and made some plays on both sides of the football in the first half.”
A punt return by cornerback James Jones and a penalty on TVCC was the foundation for KC’s first scoring drive, one that started on the 12-yard line.
KC’s quarterback duo kept the TVCC defense on its toes most of the night.
Freshman Tanner Tausch was the starter, but it was sophomore Emory Miller who got things going when he scored on a 1-yard run for a 6-0 Kilgore lead after the extra point failed.
Miller orchestrated a 63-yard drive in the second quarter. He set himself up for another rushing touchdown from the 2-yard line to make the count 12-0. KC attempted the two-point conversion, but was denied.
The KC defense allowed 32 yards in the first half as the Rangers took a 12-0 lead at intermission.
TVCC got its offense moving in the third quarter, driving 78 yards before stalling and using a field goal to cut the deficit to 12-3.
KC’s first drive of the third quarter was handled by Tausch, who connected two times with wide receiver Ed’Marques Batties. The first catch went for 40-yards, and the second covered 21 yards for a touchdown. Batties ended the night with five catches for 89 yards.
TVCC answered with a drive that began from the 33-yard line, and quarterback Javia Hall hit Gary Owens for a 21-yard touchdown to cut the KC lead to 19-10.
KC defensive end Cooper Washington, who was named the SWJCFC’s defensive player of the week, recovered a fumble to set up Kilgore’s final touchdown. It was Miller again doing the scoring honors with a 12-yard run, and Kilgore enjoyed a 27-10 lead in the fourth quarter.
Hall threw another 15-yard touchdown pass to Owens with 3:40 remaining in the game, and after recovering an onside kick attempt by the Cardinals the Rangers put the game out of reach with a 15-yard touchdown run by Courtland Smith.
The Rangers will host No. 8 Navarro (3-0) in a 7 p.m. contest on Saturday at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium.