By Senior Writer, Adam Ogburn / Twitter: @Adam Ogburn
It is crunch time in Texas. This past weekend, teams in Conferences 1A-4A wrapped up their regular seasons, which meant district titles and playoff berths were on the line across the state. Meanwhile, as the 5A and 6A teams began the back half of their regular seasons, there were plenty of marquee matchups across the state as well in the upper echelon of Texas high school football.
With all that action going on, here are the top moments from week 11.
T-10. Mineral Wells clinches playoff berth with overtime victory over Bridgeport
48 minutes was not enough to find a winner in the win-or-go-home clash between Mineral Wells and Bridgeport on Friday night. With both teams tied for fourth in the District 3-4A Division II standings and sitting at 0-3 in district play, there was only room for one of them in the playoffs. The game was tight all night with the teams trading scores back-and-forth, including an 87-yard catch-and-run touchdown off a wheel route in the second quarter by Bridgeport running back Michael Marschall and a 60-yard pick-six by the Mineral Wells defense in the third quarter. However, neither team could find the knockout punch in the fourth quarter, and the game went to overtime knotted at 22. After a field goal by Bridgeport on its first possession, the stage was set for Mineral Wells. With a playoff berth hanging in the balance, Mineral Wells running back Anthony Hernandez was not going to wait around for something to happen. He took a handoff at the Bridgeport 25 yard line and raced right through the middle of the Bridgeport defense like a knife through butter for the game-winning score. The 28-25 victory for Mineral Wells means the Rams will return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017 and just one year after finishing 0-9. Their journey will begin this Thursday when they square off against Aubrey for a spot in the second round.
Hernandez’s game winning TD run: (Courtesy of Hudl): http://www.hudl.com/v/2EaABf
T-10. Inventive late touchdown sees Livingston take down Huffman for district title
There was a mouthwatering clash for the 10-4A Division I district title as 7-2 Livingston squared off with 8-0 Huffman for all the marbles last Friday. The game lived up to its expectations. Huffman found itself up 20-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter thanks to two rushing touchdowns by its quarterback Luke Thomas in the third quarter. However, Livingston was not going down without a fight. After an interception by defensive end Nigel Henderson, Ja’Marri Green punched in from one yard out and the deficit was cut to 20-14, setting up a thrilling finale. After a late turnover on downs by Huffman, Livingston moved the ball to the Huffman 30 yard line with just two minutes to go. What followed was a brilliant misdirection play design. Quarterback Damian Ruiz rolled to his right before throwing across his body and across the field to Green. Green caught the pass at the Huffman 17 before cutting back across the entire field, while evading several Huffman defenders, as he raced for what ended up being the game-winning score as Huffman threw an interception on the ensuing possession. With the 21-20 victory, Livingston sealed the district title and will square off against Tyler Chapel Hill in the first round of playoffs in Spring on Saturday.
Green’s game-winning TD catch (courtesy of Texan Live): https://twitter.com/Texan_Live/status/1324920005797023747
9. Corpus Christi Miller takes down Beeville Jones in another wild offensive shootout
Two weeks after narrowly falling to Port Lavaca Calhoun 77-76, Miller was back at it again. It was another night of gaudy offensive statistics as Miller and Beeville Jones combined to put 162 points on the scoreboard. Miller quarterback Andrew Body led the way with 249 yards passing, 198 yards rushing, and seven total touchdowns. His backfield counterpart, running back McCulum Williams, added 161 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while Lonnie Adkism led the receivers with 7 catches for 161 yards and three touchdowns. Beeville Jones quarterback William Harper threw for 435 yards and six touchdowns, while receiver Jalen Spicer had nine catches for 234 yards and three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough as Beeville Jones never led in the second half. Miller secured the game with two late rushing touchdowns as it pulled away for an 86-76 victory, marking yet another game full of explosive offensive fireworks for the Buccaneers. As Body continues to put up gaudy numbers for Miller, the Buccaneers will certainly be a team to watch as they begin their playoff jersey against La Feria on Friday.
8. Lindale edges Kilgore for district title behind huge night from Jordan Jenkins
It was a battle of two 5-0 teams in district play as Kilgore and Lindale squared off for the 9-4A Division I title. The storyline quickly became a showdown between two talented running backs. Kilgore’s Trayveon Epps rushed for 129 yards and added 85 yards receiving, but he was outshone by Lindale’s Jordan Jenkins. Jenkins rushed for 321 yards and six touchdowns on the night, including the all-important final score. With Lindale up only 41-38, Jenkins scored his sixth and final touchdown from three yards out with under 90 seconds to go to seal the game and the district title for the Eagles. The district title means Lindale will open up its playoff journey against Vidor in Carthage on Thursday night. With Jenkins, a Baylor commit, leading the way offensively, this Lindale team will not be an easy out in the playoffs as it looks to ground-and-pound its way to success.
7. Cameron Ford’s big night leads Chapel Hill to first playoff berth in five years
With a playoff spot hanging in the balance in a win-or-go-home game against Henderson, Chapel Hill quarterback Cameron Ford was not about to let the opportunity slip away. Ford started off the game with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Solomon Macfoy on a bootleg and didn’t look back from there. Ford threw for additional touchdowns of 34, 18, and 61 yards and added a 14-yard touchdown run on the ground as he finished the night with 416 passing yards to go along with his 100 rushing yards and five total touchdowns. They needed every single yard from Ford as the game was tied at 28 with just under two minutes to go. With the ball at his own 39 yard line, Ford rolled to his right before launching the ball downfield right over two defenders and into the breadbasket of receiver Ahstin Watkins for a 61-yard score to put Chapel Hill up 35-28. Defensive back Jordan Ford added the icing on the cake on the ensuing possession as he returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown to seal a 42-28 victory for Chapel Hill. The win means that the Bulldogs will advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2015, but they will need yet another big night from Ford in round one as they take on a talented 8-2 Livingston side on Saturday.
6. Cedar Hill takes down DeSoto in Battle of the Belt Line rivalry
The annual Battle of the Belt Line was a thrilling one as #6 DeSoto and #10 Cedar Hill clashed last Friday. DeSoto quarterback Samari Collier, an Illinois commit, and Cedar Hill quarterback Kaidon Salter, a Tennessee commit, stole the show on Friday night as they led their two offenses in a shootout. Four touchdowns in the first half from Salter had Cedar Hill up 28-20 at halftime. Then with just over five minutes to go in the third quarter, Cedar Hill running back Kevin Young Jr. broke free for a 27-yard score to put Cedar Hill up 35-20. DeSoto never recovered. After a touchdown catch by Johntay Cook II and a two-point conversion by Jerand Bradley to cut the deficit to seven, Salter answered with a three-yard rushing score. And after another quick score by Desoto running back Chris Henley, Jr., Salter rushed right through the heart of the DeSoto defense for a 48-yard touchdown run that ended up icing the game with Cedar Hill up 49-35 with just two minutes to play. And even though Henley, Jr. added yet another touchdown run late on, Cedar Hill held on for a 49-42 victory. Salter finished the night with 186 yards passing, 202 yards rushing, and six total touchdowns on the night, while Collier threw for 210 yards and rushed for 87 more in defeat. Cedar Hill will need Salter and the offense to continue firing on all cylinders when they face off with #2 Duncanville this Friday in another highly anticipated clash.
Salter’s game-sealing 48-yard TD run (Courtesy of Joseph Hoyt): https://twitter.com/JoeJHoyt/status/132493563039724748
5. Callisburg ends playoff drought one year after 0-10 season
With both teams sitting at 1-3 in District 6-3A Division II play, Callisburg and Valley View dueled last Friday for the final available playoff spot. With a five year playoff drought hanging over its head, Callisburg came ready to play. Running back Brayden Trammell scored on a 12-yard run and a 29-yard reception to put Callisburg up 14-0 in the second quarter. Valley View responded in the second half with two rushing touchdowns from Colby Lewis, one from 27 yards out and another from just two yards, to tie the game back at 14. With the clock ticking down and Callisburg needing a big play, sophomore running back Greyson Thurman stepped up to the plate. Thurman broke free for a 57-yard score to put Callisburg up 21-14 with just over three minutes to go. The Callisburg defense did its job on the ensuing possession and the Wildcats had their first playoff berth since 2015. Callisburg head coach Eddie Gill said he was impressed with how his team “did not [give] into adversity.” “[The] message all year has been to live, play, [and] work the Callisburg Standard: servant, tough, aggressive, noble, determined, anchored, relentless, [and] dependable,” Gill said. “If we do that, everything else will take care of itself.” After pulling out a tight victory to secure its playoff berth, the Wildcats will look to continue to exemplify the Callisburg Standard when they face a talented Eastland team this Thursday in Decatur.
4. Hawley’s goal-line stand seals district title
Math was in the air when Hawley squared off against Forsan last Friday. If Hawley won, it would be the district champion, but a Forsan win would mean it would be time to fire up the calculator to calculate point differential to decide the district champion. If Hawley lost by one point, it would still be the district champion, while a 2-7 point defeat would mean that Anson would be the district champion. Only if Forsan won by eight or more points would it earn a district title. It was looking good for Forsan at the half too as the Buffaloes led 8-0 after Jayden Golleher recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. Hawley answered just over four minutes into the second half though as quarterback Xavier Rodela found the end zone from 16 yards out on the ground to knot the game at 8. Then early in the fourth quarter, after an interception, Hawley running back Austin Cumpton, who rushed for 79 yards on 16 carries, found paydirt from three yards out to put Hawley up 14-8 and just te’sn minutes away from a district title. However, there was more drama to come. After a missed field goal by Hawley with under two minutes to go, Forsan drove all the way down the field as it sought to tie the game. It wasn’t meant to be. On the final play of the game Hawley’s defense came up with the stop it needed as it denied Forsan on the one yard line, securing the district title in unbelievable fashion. “We called a timeout [before the final play] and discussed the situation with the defense. We were able to push them [Forsan] and penetrate into their backfield,” Hawley head coach Mitch Ables said. “Our nose guard Bo Thompson was able to slide through and hit the ball carrier in the backfield. We were able to rally and bring their kid down in the backfield. Our defense came up big all night. The only touchdown [Forsan] scored was on an offensive turnover in the endzone.” With two very talented teams, the game came down to razor-thin margins. “The difference in the ball game was turnovers. Our defense forced five turnovers. The offense put the defense in terrible situations all night. The kids were resilient on defense and kept playing hard until the last buzzer,” Ables said. “My hats off to Coach Phillips and the Forsan Buffaloes. What a great ball team and what a great game.” This nail-biting game will likely serve to be good experience for performing in clutch time for both these teams when they begin their playoff journeys this week. Hawley will take on Goldthwaite on Thursday, while Forsan will square off against San Saba in Wall on Friday.
3. Navasota wins district title in final second
After 15 games and 720 minutes of football in District 13-4A Division II play, the district title literally came down to the final second. Navasota and Giddings squared off last Friday, knowing the winner would secure a district championship. The teams traded scores throughout the first three quarters. In the fourth, Navasota running back Darius Randle burst right through the Giddings defense en route to a 38-yard touchdown with about eight minutes to play to put the Rattlers up 31-28. After a turnover on downs and a punt, the game came down to the final two minutes. Giddings quarterback Holden Jatzlau, who had a big night with 112 yards passing and 175 yards rushing, rose to the occasion. He led the Buffaloes to the Navasota one yard line before Dillon Hernandez punched in what looked like could be the game winning-touchdown with Giddings up 35-31 after his one yard touchdown run with under a minute to go. Navasota quickly advanced the ball to the Giddings 29 yard line, setting up what would be the fateful play. Navasota quarterback Ja’Mar Jessie took his time in the pocket before squeezing the ball into the tightest of windows to his receiver John Lee. Lee caught the ball at the 10 yard line before escaping a Giddings tackle and racing to the promised land for the game-winning score as Navasota went up 37-35 with just one second to go. It was a remarkable ending to the regular season and means Navasota will now take on Austin Achieve in the opening round of the playoffs this Thursday.
2. Tascosa takes down its archrival with stunning comeback
Neighbors Tascosa and Amarillo squared off in their annual crosstown showdown this past Friday. Amarillo won last year’s edition 36-33 and looked to be well on its way to another victory up 20-0 at halftime. That assumption looked further secure when receiver Davin Lemmons opened the second half with a bang by returning the opening kickoff 96 yards for a score. Slowly but surely though, Tascosa began to chip away at the deficit. First, Tascosa running back Major Everhart raced away for a 20-yard touchdown run before quarterback B.T. Daniel hit Darius Sanders on a beauty of a pass over two Amarillo defenders for a 35-yard score. Suddenly the deficit was only 27-14 with eight minutes still to play in the third quarter. Two and a half minutes into the fourth, Everhart struck again, finding the end zone from five yards out to cut the Amarillo lead to 27-21. It was a common theme in the fourth quarter as Tascosa drew ever closer to a stunning come-from-behind victory. On the ensuing possession, Everhart delivered the biggest blow of the night to Amarillo as he faked a pitch before turning back around and scampering away for a 47-yard touchdown run right through the gut of the Amarillo defense to put Tascosa up for the first time on the night by a score of 28-27 with just over six minutes to go. Then, after a forced turnover by the Tascosa defense, it was Everhart yet again who helped ice the clock and secure the victory for Tascosa in one of the most memorable editions of this rivalry game. Everhart finished the night with 247 rushing yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns. With Everhart and Tascosa’s triple-option offense hitting its stride, defensive coordinators will certainly be weary of this dynamic rushing attack produced by this vaunted offense.
Everhart’s go-ahead touchdown run (Courtesy of Tim Dennis): https://twitter.com/TDennisSportTog/status/1324915669863985152
1. Katy Tompkins hands Katy first district loss in 76 games
Death, taxes, and Katy winning its district games. Those three things had been a certainty since 2008. At least until Thursday night when #14 Tompkins squared off with #3 Katy in a crucial district affair. After a Katy field goal opened the scoring, Tompkins quarterback Jalen Milroe, an Alabama commit, found Joshua McMillan II, who made an impressive catch by tipping the ball up and then catching it on the second attempt, for a 22-yard score. It was a frequent combination on the night. After Jalen Davis raced away for an 86-yard Katy touchdown, Milroe found McMillan II again across the middle for a score, this time from 18 yards out, to put Tompkins back up 14-10 at the half. After the teams traded field goals, Milroe hit McMillan II for a 30-yard score that put Tompkins up 24-13 heading to the fourth quarter. With just under five minutes to go, Katy responded as sophomore quarterback Caleb Koger found Taylor Saulsberry for a 17-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 24-19 to set up a thrilling finale. Then with just over two minutes on the clock and Katy facing a 4th-and-13, Tompkins got the big play it needed. Kroger dropped back to pass and as he tried to step up in the pocket, he was engulfed by Tompkins defenders, forcing a turnover on downs that would seal the victory for the Falcons, snapping Katy’s 75-game unbeaten run in district play and putting Tompkins in pole position to secure the 19-6A District title. Milroe finished the night with 209 yards passing, while McMillan II had 146 yards receiving and all three of Milroe’s touchdown passes. With the victory, Tompkins certainly vaunted itself into the discussion of state title contenders as it continues to ascend the 6A rankings.