LUBBOCK, Texas- The first half did not come easy for Bushland on Friday night. Down 17-14, the Falcons found themselves the victim of costly turnovers and mistakes.
The second half was a different story for Bushland as senior quarterback Colton Moore racked up 493 total yards and seven touchdowns and the Falcons defense forced six Seminole turnovers en route to a 49-36 win over the Indians in the Class 4A Division II regional semifinals at PlainsCapital Park at Lowrey Field.
It’s the first trip to the regional finals for Bushland since 2009.
“It’s special because at halftime we knew we didn’t have to panic only being down three,” Bushland head coach Jimmy Thomas said following the win, “We told them they were going to be mentally tough in the second half and the kids showed a lot of heart.”
The game got off to a hot start as both teams scored on their opening possesions. Colton Moore found Ryan Oldfield for a 7-yard touchdown while Seminole quarterback responded with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Alex Menchaca to Texas commit Reese Moore for a 14-yard strike.
The defenses would also set up scores in the first quarter. Seminole defensive lineman Sergio Landeros recovered a Colton Moore fumble and took it in for a touchdown while a Wren Watson interception set up a 10-yard touchdown run by Moore. Landeros would later add a 22-yard field goal to make it a 17-14 halftime lead for Seminole, but Bushland found themselves not completely in sync.
“I struggled in the first half and at halftime I let them know that I had their back and they had mine,” Moore said, “I was playing for them in the second half.”
As mentioned, the big momentum shift came right after halftime. After Seminole went up 24-14 early in the third quarter, Bushland responded in less than a minute as Moore found Jacob Pollock for a 54- yard touchdown pass to make to cut the deficit to three.
The pendulum continued to move in the Falcons favor as the Indians fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Moore would cash in the second of his three rushing touchdowns on the night to give Bushland a 28-24 lead in a span of 16 seconds that they would not relinquish.
“We knew with the tempo that we were going to have to lean on Colton in the second half,” Thomas said, “He missed some throws in the first half but we hit those plays and the receivers made some great catches as well.”
That sequence would be the catalyst to get the rest of the Falcons offense going as Moore added touchdown passes to Ryne Frederiksen from 27 yards and Gage Climer from 43 yards in the fourth quarter.
Seminole would try to make a late push in the second half after going down 35-24 in the thir quarter. Quarterback Alex Menchaca ran the ball in from a yard out to make it 35-30. But as was the case all night, mistakes doomed Seminole’s chances with four costly turnovers and inopportune penalties.
An interception by Ryen Oldfield would lead to a 12-play, 82-yard drive capped off by a Colton Moore touchdown run to put the Falcons up 49-30 and effectively seal the game even after a late Menchaca touchdown run.
“Every play that they needed to make, they did it. They’re dang good,” said Seminole head coach Kent Jackson after the game, “Those kids are really good and there’s a drive and belief that I thought we had as well and it was really special to watch.”
“It goes back to the old adage of being about turnovers and explosive plays,” Thomas said, “I know we had more explosive plays and I’m really proud of how our kids played in the second half. They weren’t going to be denied.”
With the win, the Bushland Falcons move to 11-2 and will play the Graham Steers in the Region I final at 7 p.m. next Friday night back at Lowrey Field. Seminole finishes their season at 11-2.
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