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CROCKETT — The New Waverly Bulldogs looked as if it had a point to prove Friday night against the No. 5 team in Class 3A, DII. The defense looked dominant and the offense found early scores.

However, that was just the first quarter.

After jumping out to a quick 11-0 lead, the Bulldogs (9-3) were unable to hold off the high-octane West Rusk, falling 42-17 in the area round of the playoffs.

“Our seniors didn’t want to go out like this,” New Waverly coach Dean Schaub said. “We struggled to put points on the board in the first half and we never rebounded from it. The defense held off as long as they could, but ultimately we just couldn’t put points on the board.

New Waverly got the game rolling and scooped up all of the momentum after holding the Raiders to a goal-line stand that gave them the ball. After driving the length of the field, the Bulldogs turned the ball over, but then Joe Bryant blocked a Raider punt for a safety.

The Bulldogs were then able to kick a field goal to grow their lead to five.

The defense for New Waverly was a big key to their success in the first half of this game. Their performance was able to keep the Bulldogs in contention. New Waverly held West Rusk to 218 first-half yards and kept them out of the endzone all but twice.

After the halftime break, the Raiders turned it on and scored on all four of their drives.

“That was great momentum,” Schaub noted. “I think they went above and beyond their call of duty and it makes it all worth wild if the offense is scoring but it didn’t happen that way.”

While the Bulldog’s defense helped keep them in the game, it was some mistakes on the offensive side of the ball that stalled them. Senior quarterback Sebastine Amaro threw three interceptions, one of which was in the red zone. He threw for 297 yards and was only able to find the endzone only twice in the game.

The junior receiving duo of Jeremy Miles and Joe Bryant each had five receptions, with Miles snagging 116 yards. But in the second half, the Raiders secondary shut them down and then the New Waverly offense struggled to find any momentum.

Will Larrison, which had been the workhorse in the backfield at running back, was able to just rush for 40 yards and no scores.

“I think all-in-all we look at it as a shoot. We played the No. 5 team in the state and we had them on the ropes. We just couldn’t finish, we have plenty to work for,” Schaub added.

New Waverly’s season ended  in the area round of the UIL 3A, DII playoffs, but they will bring back plenty of familiar faces as they put their attention to the 2022 season.

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