BRYAN – Dripping Springs Tiger head coach Galen Zimmerman choked back emotions when he thought about how Saturday’s 28-21 season-ending loss to the Richmond Foster Falcons could have gone differently.
Eliminating 21 Falcon points scored off of four Tiger turnovers could have tipped the scales in Dripping Springs’ favor.
But Zimmerman understood Dripping Springs just didn’t play a clean enough game to win. And while the Tigers mounted a furious fourth quarter comeback, it didn’t keep dreams of a deep playoff run from ending at the hands of the Falcons for the second year in a row.
“We were close. That’s what hurts. If we did a couple of things a little bit cleaner, not turn the ball over … then we give ourselves a chance,” Zimmerman said.
Dripping Springs (11-1) struggled against a sizeable and speedy Foster defense that created problems for Tiger quarterback Trevor Greenman and his wide receivers. Dripping Springs’ offensive line also had to battle against a beefy Foster defensive front that regularly pressured Greenman on multiple occasions.
Foster (10-2) used its defense to give its offense a chance at early points. Following a blocked first quarter Tiger field goal attempt, the Falcons orchestrated a time-consuming 16-play, 87-yard drive that had three third down and one fourth down conversions.
A one-yard touchdown from running back Alec Harris gave Foster a 7-0 lead early in the second frame. Dripping Springs countered to tie the score at 7-7 via a 47-yard touchdown from Greenman to wide receiver Curtis Raymond.
Dripping Springs’ defense came up with a critical stop on the ensuing drive and gave its offense the ball back with roughly seven minutes left before half time.
It only took 80 seconds for the wheels to come off the Tiger wagon.
Back-to-back Tiger interceptions gave Foster’s offense short fields to work with. They took advantage and tallied 14 unanswered points to give the Falcons a commanding 21-7 lead at halftime.
Tiger turnover troubles worsened in the third frame when Falcon senior cornerback Stephon West intercepted a Greenman pass for a touchdown to widen the deficit to 28-7.
Greenman said Foster’s defense moved around “better than we thought,” and it was physical and fast.
“They came to play and I wasn’t making the right reads. I left a lot of stuff up for grabs and made a lot of mistakes,” Greenman said. “We found a way to battle at the end, but they were the better team today.”
Dripping Springs, however, didn’t go down without a fight. It began with a Tiger defense that held Foster’s offense scoreless in the final 24 minutes.
Tiger senior defensive back Josh Embry said it was a challenge to corral Foster quarterback Quinton Oliver and running back Alec Harris, who combined for 229 of the Falcon’s 244 total yards.
Keeping adjustments simple, especially against a big Falcon offensive line, paid dividends for Dripping Springs.
“The score didn’t show it, but I’m proud of what we did,” Embry said. “We were the David to their Goliath. We played up to that today.”
Dripping Springs’ offense capitalized and rallied back into contention. A three-yard touchdown run by Greenman cut the Falcon lead to 28-14 early in the fourth frame.
Seven minutes later, Dripping Springs struck again with a one-yard touchdown run by Keith Mitchhart, who earlier in the drive kept Dripping Springs’ comeback alive with a critical fourth down catch.
Greenman amassed 543 of Dripping Springs’ 566 total yards on offense. That included going 19 of 41 for 403 yards passing with a touchdown and four interceptions. Raymond finished with 206 yards on seven receptions.
Dripping Springs maintained momentum when the Tigers regained possession with 64 seconds left in the game to orchestrate a last-ditch response.
Murphy’s Law, however, showed up for one final appearance. With eight seconds left and the ball at the Falcon 29 yard-line, Greenman took a sack, and spiked the ball with no time left on the clock.
Zimmerman, who shouldered the blame for the miscue, cited a communications breakdown on the field.
“We’ve got to do a better job of communicating,” Zimmerman said. “That’s on the coach right there.”
Amid the frustration and sadness, Tiger players were optimistic for what the future holds for the program. Zimmerman said the senior class established a culture the community has rallied behind. Embry said the seniors have made Dripping Springs a program to respect.
“Hopefully it sets the standard for those that follow,” Greenman said. “We wanted to be a team to remember. I think we did that. Obviously, it’s not the way we wanted to finish but it was a good run. I’m going to miss it.”