COLUMBUS – Goliad coach Bobby Nicholson marked Shaun Justice as the player to watch for his team in 2019, and for good reason.
Justice was perhaps the lone bright spot in another otherwise dismal showing by the Tigers in the season opener Friday night.
The senior back scored all of his team’s points in a 42-20 loss to the Cardinals.
Justice carried the ball 17 times in the game, racking up 161 yards, a 9.5 yards-per-carry average.
He scored all three of the team’s touchdowns and converted the team’s only point-after try.
The host Cardinals took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never trailed on their way to the win.
Justice got Goliad on the board for the first time in the second quarter with a 6-yard TD scamper.
Columbus answered that with its second rushing TD of the night to carry a 21-6 lead into halftime.
Justice trimmed the Cardinal lead to 21-12 in the third quarter with a 33-yard touchdown run, but the Tigers would get no closer the rest of the way.
The hosts scored 21 unanswered points after that to put the game out of reach. They got a 32-yard passing TD, a 2-yard TD run and then a 10-yard aerial strike during the stretch.
Late in the fourth, Justice added his third TD of the night by turning the corner around left end on a toss play for a 12-yard TD run.
He then added the two-point conversion run to finish off the scoring.
His 161 rushing yards accounted for nearly two-thirds of the team’s 255 total rushing yards on the night.
Quarterback Reese Rhunke rushed for 67 yards on 13 carries for the Tigers. He also threw for 23 yards on 4-of-11 passing in his first career varsity start.
The Tiger defense was led by Grant Garnett, who racked up 11 total tackles, including one for loss.
Aden Barrientez had six tackles, including one for loss.
The Tigers (0-1) welcome Highway 183 rival Refugio to Tiger Stadium this week.
The Bobcats, the top-ranked team in 2A Division I according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, are 1-0 on the year after beating Tidehaven 43-7 in their opener last week.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Kevin J. Keller is a sports reporter at the Advance-Guard Press and can be reached at 361-343-5223, or at sports@mySouTex.com.