Case of the K’s: Offensive Line Carves Path for Kirven, Knowles, and Kennedale to State Semifinals

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Photo: Lauren Landes/TexasHSFootball

FRISCO, Texas — Kennedale High School not only defeated Kaufman 63-36 Friday night under the dome of The Star in Frisco, it made a statement about the power of its run game — outside of its two feature backs.

“I have to give thanks to my offensive line.” senior running back DJ Kirven said after the big offensive night. “They’re the best O-Line in the state of Texas, I believe. Running behind them is great. They make it easy to find the hole.”

Though Kaufman started with the ball and on the first play took it to their own 47-yard line, a fumble on the next play — picked up by Kennedale’s Larry Brooks and taken back for a touchdown  — set the tone for the Wildcats’ early after a 6-0 lead despite a missed extra point. Kaufman would make up for the mistake as they drove to the Kennedale 27 where Trey Collier hit Cecil Gasper for the touchdown pass to make it 7-6 Kaufman.

Lauren Landes/TexasHSFootball

Kennedale quickly responded as Jaden Knowles took a handoff up the middle and ran 68 yards for the Wildcat touchdown to make it 13-6. But Kaufman would drive down the field and score again on an 8-yard keeper to make it 14-13 Kaufman.

After Kennedale was forced to punt to start the second quarter, the Wildcat offense forced a three and out and made magic on the punt as Brooks took it 45 yards for the Kennedale touchdown — second defensive touchdown of the game.

The 2-point conversion was successful and Kennedale held a 21-14 lead. The Kennedale defense held again and forced a Kaufman fourth down. However, the snap went over the punter’s head and the ball was recovered in the end zone by Malete Joyner to give the Wildcats a 28-14 lead. The Wildcats would score again from 18 yards out on a run by Jaden Knowles to make it 35-14 at the half.

Kaufman started the second half off promising as they recovered the onside kick. But they could not capitalize on it. Kennedale would then get in as DJ Kirven ran it in from 58 yards out to extend the Kennedale lead to 42-14.

Kaufman would not go quietly as Collier hit Gasper with a 45-yard strike for the score to make it 42-21. Moments later, Kennedale then mounted a drive that spanned 80 yards capped off by a 3-yard run by Kirven to end the third quarter.

A fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Collier to Ryan Howard from 7 yards to make it 49-28 and Knowles’ 75-yard touchdown run to make it quickly pushed the lead to 56-28 and after causing a Kaufman punt, Kennedale scored again on a 42-yard run from David Roper to extend the lead to 63-28.  Kaufman scored on 9-yard run by Cecil Gasper. The 2-point conversion was successful and Kaufman pulled back to 63-36. Kennedale would then run out the clock, ending the Kaufman season.

Staci Otts/TexasHSFootball

“We have to watch turnovers,” Knowles said on preparing for next week. “I had a fumble today, and I had to make it up for my team. We definitely can’t do that in the semifinals because everybody at this point is good and that’s how you lose the game, so we have to watch that.”

Kaufman’s season ended with a record of 12-2 while Kennedale advances to 13-1 and will face Stephenville High School next Friday at AT&T Stadium for the chance to advance to the State Championship.

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