New Braunfels’ hopes of a District 26-6A upset against Judson were dashed before the first-quarter clock expired on Friday night.

The Unicorns (4-2, 1-2) were undone by three early giveaways that allowed Judson to grab a 20-0 edge in the opening stanza. Buoyed by the big lead, the Rockets (6-0, 3-0) accelerated forward to notch a 54-20 victory at Unicorn Stadium and remain unbeaten on the season.

“Those three turnovers in the first half of the first quarter is a killer, especially against a team like that,” New Braunfels head coach Glenn Mangold said.

Judson’s quickness along the defensive line gave New Braunfels problems early on. The Rockets also proved to be opportunistic by cashing in each of their takeaways in the first period.

A fumble led to a quick 6-yard touchdown run by De’Anthony Lewis, and a blocked punt set up another Judson score — an 18-yard scoring toss from Mike Chandler II to Amarea Bailey-Davis.

Just when it looked as though things couldn’t get worse for the Unicorns, who were already staring at a 14-0 deficit, defensive end E’vaunte Freeman sacked Peyton Driggers and caused a fumble that was picked up and returned for a TD by Treylin Payne.

The ensuing extra point missed, but Judson still held a 20-point lead with 2:28 left to play in the opening stanza.

Lucas Dorrow later put the Unicorns on the board by catching a screen pass, making a man miss and darting ahead for a 28-yard scoring reception in the second quarter.

However, the Rockets responded with a 69-yard burst across the goal line by Lewis and a 78-yard TD throw from Chandler II to Bailey-Davis. Ryker Purdy answered with a 2-yard TD run up the gut, but Judson tacked on one final score before halftime — a 3-yard run from Lewis that came with just three seconds to go before intermission.

New Braunfels finally got a break when the Rockets muffed a punt midway through the third quarter that was recovered at Judson’s 8-yard line by Craig Johnson. Three plays later, Driggers found Purdy open on a swing pass that resulted in an 8-yard TD toss.

Judson’s defense preserved the win from there with an interception and a pair of additional stops.

Chandler II wasn’t done, though, as he added two more scoring throws to cap a stellar outing. He finished 18 of 22 passing for 307 yards and four TDs through the air.

Driggers went 14 of 30 for 202 yards and two scores. Bryson Dyer made two catches for 66 yards, while Johnson had three grabs for 41 yards and Dorrow tallied another three receptions for 31 yards and a TD.

New Braunfels was held to 45 total yards on the ground.

The Unicorns’ defense turned in a few highlights, including Kaden Walker’s big hit to break up a pass in the first quarter and Michael Nuckels’ sack on the opening possession of the third period.

New Braunfels will look to rebound this coming Friday when it travels to Lehnhoff Stadium to battle Steele.

“The next four [games] are huge,” Mangold said. “Steele has got a good football team like Judson does, so we’ve got to put this behind us and be ready to go Monday and fix our mistakes.”

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