Crawford was put on the map for being the home of the 43rd President’s ranch, but today they were known for their physical football team. They came 11 seconds short from adding “state champions” to their name as they lost to Refugio in the 2A Division II state title game 23-20.
Crawford (14-2) tied the game with 4 minutes and 36 seconds left in the 4th quarter on a screen pass that was bobbled than caught by running back Garrett Dutschmann and ran 44 yards to the house.
“When we tied it up, the energy level on the sidelines changed,” senior wide receiver Jeff Ward said. “It was just a back and forth game.”
Refugio (15-1) got the ball back and didn’t give it back to the Pirates until one second was left on the clock. The Bobcats ran 10 plays, all on the ground and kicked the game winning field goal from 18-yards with eight seconds left.
“We had a couple of chances to get stops and we missed some tackles and they made some great plays,” Crawford head coach Delbert Kelm said about what might have been the difference. “I never doubt my guys whenever we take the field.”
The first half was a defensive battle, both teams were struggling for yards and both lines matching each other’s physicality. Refugio was able to strike first on their second drive of the game with a 43-yard pass from Jacobe Avery to Robert Ortiz.
The Crawford defense was able to stand tall until their offense struck on their final drive of the first half on a 21-yard pass from Gage Pearson to Cade Johnston. Prior to that pass, the Crawford offense had 50 total yards. It looked like Crawford was going to head into the intermission tied at 6 as both teams failed their extra points, but a 78-yard return set the Bobcats up at the Pirate 10-yard line and Refugio was able to take a 13-6 lead into the half.
On a short week, the smaller Pirates seemed to have run out of gas as the physicality of the Bobcats wore them down, but they didn’t make excuses after the game. Ward and Kelm both said they just didn’t execute a couple of plays and that was the difference in winning and losing on the night.
“I’m disappointed for them,” Kelm said as he was getting choked up. “I’ll never be disappointed in them.”
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