By Senior Writer, Adam Ogburn / Twitter: @aogburn00
The 1A-4A playoffs were in full swing this past weekend and produced a number of incredible matchups as teams fought to advance to the third round, while the 5A and 6A schools produced many exciting games of their own as they continue to close in on the start of their playoffs, which are now just over two weeks away.
Here are the top moments from week 13 from a weekend full of thrilling Texas high school football.
T-10. Vanderbilt Industrial squeaks by Blanco with late field goal
The Industrial and Blanco matchup last Friday was the epitome of a back-and-forth game as the two teams found themselves tied at six different points throughout the contest. The game headed to the fourth quarter with Blanco up 35-28, but Industrial needed just a minute and a half to tie the game back up as quarterback Matthew Davis found a wide open Tayte Karl for a 23-yard score on a fourth-and-nine play. On the ensuing Industrial possession, it was Davis again as he found paydirt on a quarterback keeper from three yards out to put Industrial up 42-35 with just over four minutes to go. There was still plenty of more drama to come. Blanco sophomore running back Devin Newsome broke free on a screen pass for a 76-yard gain before Blanco quarterback Baylor Smith scored on a quarterback keeper of his own to knot the score at 42 with just over two minutes to go. However, the last word on the night went to Industrial. The Cobras quickly advanced the ball to the Blanco seventeen yard line, setting up the chance for kicker Rider Ulloa to be the hero on the night. He did exactly that, converting the 34-yard kick to send the Cobras to the third round of the playoffs for the second year in a row. Industrial will look to build off this nail-biting victory when it fights to keep its season alive against Lago Vista in LaVernia this Friday.
T-10. #1 Balmorhea runs away from #2 Jayton with huge second half
The first half between Balmorhea and Jayton was exactly what you would expect from the top two teams in the state in six-man Division II. The Jaybirds and Bears were locked in a tight one with Balmorhea leading 46-38 at the half. Jayton started off the second-half scoring as Caleb Valerio found the end zone from four yards out to tie the game up at 46. Balmorhea took over from there as Tomas Contreras and the Bear offense began to light up the scoreboard. Contreras added to his four first-half touchdowns on the ensuing possession as he took a pitch around the right side and raced 58 yards for a score to put Balmorhea up 52-46. Two drives later, it was Contreras again as he turned a Jayton fumble into points, taking a handoff and racing right through the heart of the Jaybird defense for a 22-yard score to increase the Balmorhea lead to 68-46. After a 19-yard touchdown catch by Balmorhea receiver Isaiah Valerio, it was Contreras yet again as he took a pitch and beat the Jaybird defense to the edge for a 32-yard rushing touchdown to complete his trio of second-half touchdowns. The Bears would go on to add another late touchdown to seal a 90-46 victory. Contreras led the way with seven touchdowns, while Valerio and Angel Iniguez each added two scores of their own. With the way the Balmorhea offense put on a clinic in the second half and pulled away from a talented Jayton team, the Bears have certainly cemented themselves as one of the favorites for the Division II state title heading into the quarterfinals.
9. Malakoff obliterates Pottsboro in statement victory
The most highly anticipated game of the second round in 3A Division I took place in Commerce as #4 Malakoff faced off against #5 Pottsboro. These two teams have met in the playoffs the past two years with the winner advancing to the state title game both times. The first half was all Malakoff junior running back Duce Hart. He rushed for touchdowns of 5, 3, 30, 1, and 9 yards to propel Malakoff to a 32-0 halftime advantage. The Malakoff defense also came up with some big plays of its own, including an interception in the end zone by Riggin Smith. The story was much the same in the second half as junior Karter Fuller added another interception for the Malakoff defense. Meanwhile, offensively, Nathan Jones added an 18-yard touchdown reception and Takeenan Langley contributed two rushing scores of his own as the Tigers ran away with a resounding 52-0 victory. The reward for this Malakoff victory is yet another matchup against #2 Grandview, a rematch of the 2018 3A Division I state title game. These two met earlier this year with Grandview coming out 31-24 winners in overtime, so expect another tight game when they square off on Friday afternoon in Waco.
8. Friendswood outlasts Galveston Ball in wild overtime shootout
Offensive fireworks were on the menu when Ball traveled to Friendswood on Friday night. The game was tied at 28 at halftime as Friendswood quarterback Luke Grden threw for three touchdowns, while Ball quarterback Kristian Dalton rushed for two touchdowns of his own in the first half. Ball jumped out to a 42-28 lead two minutes into the fourth quarter, but Friendswood responded and tied the game at 42 with just under four minutes to play after Grden found his receiver Patrick Elizondo for a 52-yard strike. That’s when the craziness began. First, a 70-yard touchdown run by Dalton on a quarterback keeper around the left end was immediately answered by a 67-yard touchdown run by Friendswood running back Noah Palitz just 22 seconds later. A two-point conversion reception by receiver Matthew Kovacevich put the Mustangs up 50-49. Ball needed just 51 seconds to answer this time as Dalton broke off a 39-yard touchdown run and then completed a pass to his receiver Preston Lee on a two-point conversion attempt to put the Tornadoes up 57-50 with just under two minutes to go. Friendswood didn’t blink. It drove right down the field again, and Grden lofted a beautiful pass from nine yards out right into to the corner of the end zone to his receiver Nolan Smith to level the score at 57 with just 50 seconds to go. With the score still even, the game went to overtime. Ball opened the period with a field goal, leaving the door open for the Mustangs to win it. With the ball on the Ball 19 yard line, Grden bided his time before finding Smith across the middle of the field in the end zone for the game-winning score, sending the Friendswood sideline into absolute jubilation. Grden finished the game with 383 yards passing and six touchdowns in his final home game for the Mustangs. Friendswood and Grden will look to close out their regular season on a high next week out in Port Arthur when the Mustangs travel on the road to square off against Memorial.
Game-winning TD from Grden to Smith (Courtesy of John Grden): https://twitter.com/NeoRiley/status/1330050969401430017
7. Jordan Jenkins scores nine touchdowns to carry Lindale to third round
Yes, you read the headline right. Jordan Jenkins was a frequent visitor to the end zone when Lindale squared off against Needville in the second round of playoffs this past Saturday. The first half was an offensive clinic as Jenkins rushed for touchdowns of 10, 6, 7, and 7 yards again. He also added a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown for good measure. However, Needville had plenty of offensive production of its own. Needville quarterback Trevor Baker threw for two touchdowns, while talented Needville running back Walker Warncke added touchdown runs of 46, 75, and 5 yards as the Blue Jays took a 42-35 lead into halftime. Warncke matched Jenkins again to open the second half, returning a kickoff of his own for a touchdown on a 95-yard return as Needville went up 49-35. Jenkins took over from there. He added touchdown runs of 7 yards, 22 yards, and 14 yards to put Lindale up 56-49 with just over seven minutes to play. Airik Williams then stepped up for Lindale as he took a punt 59 yards to the house to extend the Lindale lead to 63-49 with just six minutes to go. Warncke added another late touchdown run, but Jenkins made sure the game was secure as he responded just 11 seconds later with a 49-yard touchdown run for his ninth and final touchdown of the game, giving Lindale the 70-56 advantage that it would go on to win by. Warncke finished the game with 237 yards and 5 touchdowns, but Jenkins outshined him with 302 rushing yards on 37 carries and nine total touchdowns. “[Jordan] is a very special young man. The key was his preparation and his mentality. He was ready to go physically and mentally,” Lindale head coach Chris Cochran said. “The details matter to Jordan and we place a huge emphasis on preparation. He was prepared in every way. He was ready to compete and was not going to be denied.” The Eagles will look to continue riding Jenkins offensively when they square off against Chapel Hill’s explosive offense in Tyler on Friday. “Moving forward, he is vital to our success. The Lindale Eagles go as Jordan goes,” Cochran said. “We have a whole lot of trust in what he can do for our football team and we are a confident football team because of him.” Opposing defenses have been warned. Jenkins will certainly be a player to continue to keep an eye on as he and the Lindale offense look to continue to fire on all cylinders.
6. Haltom pulls off unbelievable 4th quarter comeback to stun Boswell
Boswell looked to have its game against Haltom well in hand heading into the fourth quarter up 31-7. There’s a reason though why a game is never over until the clock hits zero. Haltom opened the quarter with a 15-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Allen Reynolds, Jr. After a Boswell punt, the Buffaloes struck again. Quarterback Jace Washington broke free on a scramble drill, initially cutting right before reversing field and outracing the Boswell defense to the opposite pylon for a 24-yard score that cut the Haltom deficit to 31-21. After a Boswell fumble, it was Washington again as he barreled his way into the end zone from three yards out to shrink the Boswell lead to just three points, and suddenly it was game on again with just four minutes to go. After another Boswell punt, Haltom began with the ball at its own 30 yard line. Yet again, the Buffalo offense moved the ball down the field into the Boswell red zone. With the ball on the Boswell one yard line, Washington followed his blockers on the left side before cutting up and into the end zone to give Haltom its first lead of the game, 35-31, with under a minute to go. Boswell’s last-ditch effort came up short, and the Buffaloes secured a remarkable victory when it seemed like all odds were against them. Washington finished with 58 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and 121 yards passing, while Reynolds, Jr. finished with 129 rushing yards himself. Haltom will look to keep its momentum from this stunning comeback going when it faces Euless Trinity this Friday in a de facto district championship game between the only two undefeated teams left in District 3-6A play.
5. Pilot Point takes down #3 Shallowater in convincing fashion
Shallowater came into this showdown looking to stay undefeated as the number three team in 3A Division I. Pilot Point wasn’t interested in that narrative. The teams traded scores in the first quarter as Shallowater quarterback Bax Townsend threw for a 54-yard touchdown and rushed for a 15-yard score, while Pilot Point quarterback Max Hollar countered with a 20-yard passing touchdown and a 74-yard rushing score on a quarterback keeper to knot the score at 14. Hollar struck again with just under five minutes to go in the half, scoring on a two-yard quarterback keeper to put Pilot Point up 21-14 heading into halftime. The teams traded scores to open the third quarter, but it was the Max Hollar show after that. Hollar broke free for a 65-yard touchdown run, outracing the Shallowater defense down the sideline to give Pilot Point a 34-20 advantage with just under seven minutes to go in the third. Hollar came up with another big play three minutes later, hitting his receiver Jay Cox on a slant route. Cox’s speed was too much after the catch for the Shallowater defense as he turned upfield and took off for a 53-yard touchdown. After a Shallowater touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, it was Hollar again as he found Cox in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard score to ice the game with Pilot Point up 48-26. Hollar finished the game with 142 passing yards, 247 rushing yards, and six total touchdowns to fuel this 48-26 upset victory by Pilot Point. With Hollar leading the way, this Pilot Point team has the potential to continue to make some noise in the 3A Division I playoffs. Pilot Point will look to keep that potential alive when it squares off against Bushland this Friday.
Hollar’s 65-yard touchdown run (Courtesy of Samuel Valerio Jr.): https://twitter.com/TXHSathletics/status/1329978719352594432
4. Late touchdown secures first win in Rock Hill history
After losing a heartbreaker 35-33 to Frisco Memorial the week before, Rock Hill was not about to let another opportunity to pick up its first win in school history slip away from them. However, four touchdowns from Lake Dallas quarterback Brendan Sorsby meant that the Blue Hawks, who are playing their first varsity season in program history, found themselves trailing 28-14 midway through the third quarter. After a Lake Dallas fumble, Rock Hill got itself right back in the ball game though as Sylis Ivy punched in from two yards out to cut the Lake Dallas lead to seven. Rock Hill wasn’t satisfied. The Blue Hawks threw caution to the wind and attempted an onside kick, and it paid off big time as sophomore receiver Keyoni Morrison came up with a huge recovery. Rock Hill took full advantage as quarterback Brenner Cox found paydirt on a quarterback keeper from three yards out to knot the score at 28. The teams then traded possession back-and-forth with neither team able to find a breakthrough until the final minute. With just 15 seconds to go, Rock Hill made the game-defining play that will go down in school history. Cox dropped back and found Jayden Hall wide open across the middle of the field. Hall made an acrobatic catch before falling into the end zone for a 33-yard score that caused absolute scenes on the Rock Hill sidelines as the team celebrated the score that would go on to seal a historic 34-28 victory. “It was a memorable and historic night for Rock Hill football,” Rock Hill head coach Mark Humble said. “The most impressive aspect of our comeback win was that every unit, offense, defense and special teams, made key plays in the 3rd and 4th quarter. It was truly a team win [in] every aspect and definition of team win!” After opening Rock Hill High School just this past August, the Blue Hawks have had to learn on the fly as they played a full varsity schedule despite this being the first year of the school being open. “This win means so much to our kids, players, coaches, staff, school and entire district because the first win is always the hardest win to get. With what has taken place in the world since last spring and what we have overcome this fall opening a school, starting all new athletic programs, and playing a varsity schedule the first year, getting our 1st win is pretty special,” Humble said. “It is a testament to our kids and staff in their belief, commitment, work ethic, a trust in a process and bringing their best everyday to lay a strong foundation for success.” After this team etched itself into Rock Hill history with Friday night’s memorable victory, the Blue Hawks will look to end their season on a high when they square off against Lebanon Trail in their final regular season contest in two weeks time
Hall’s game-winning touchdown catch (Courtesy of David Wolman): https://twitter.com/david_wolmanFWS/status/1329990289751240707
3. Rogers holds on late to upset Poth
Last week, Rogers scored on a 74-yard touchdown with just 90 seconds left to advance over Tidehaven. Evidently, the Eagles were not done making noise in the playoffs when they squared off against Poth, the number three in 3A Division II. Rogers had a dream first half as a 52-yard punt return for touchdown and a 24-yard rushing touchdown by Christian Riley coupled with an interception by defensive tackle Tyler Shelton and a forced fumble by its defense meant that the Eagles led 14-0 at the break. Poth responded in the third quarter as a quarterback keeper by Jude George from one yard out and an 11-yard rushing touchdown by Poth running back Cooper Conn tied the game at 14 heading into the fourth quarter. Poth struck again early in the fourth as George raced away from the Rogers defense for a 34-yard score to put Poth up 20-14 after a missed PAT. That missed PAT would prove to be costly as Rogers methodically marched down the field in its flexbone offense. It was Riley who again came up with the big play as he found the end zone from seven yards out. Julian Lashbrook converted the extra point to give Rogers a 21-20 lead with just over five minutes to go. Poth quickly advanced the ball down the field and was knocking on the door of the Rogers red zone when the Eagles defense came up with a huge fumble recovery with just over two minutes to go. Poth’s defense forced a punt, giving its offense one last chance, but a 42-yard field goal attempt by Poth will just over 30 seconds to go ended up missing wide right to seal the upset victory for Rogers. With the victory, Rogers will face a rematch against its fellow District 13-3A Division II counterpart Buffalo in the third round. Expect a lot of Christian Riley for Rogers in that one as the Eagles look to pull off another upset victory on Friday night in Waco.
2. China Spring continues string of upsets with victory over #2 West Orange-Stark
China Spring had already sent some shockwaves through the 4A Division II playoff bracket when it beat #4 Jasper 45-19 in the first round of playoffs. The Cougars had every intention of following that up with another big win over West Orange-Stark, and it showed from the very beginning of their contest last Friday. Linebacker Dawson Exline started off the game with a huge special teams play for the Cougars as he blocked a punt and took it fifteen yards to the house to put China Spring up 7-0. The hits just kept on coming as China Spring quarterback Major Bowden and running back Emmanuel Abdallah each scored on short touchdown runs to extend the Cougar lead to 21-0 midway through the second quarter. West Orange-Stark did get on the board as quarterback Jerren Terrell lined up as a wide receiver before being pitched the ball on a reverse and firing downfield for Jerrold Brown, who raced away for the 68-yard score. China Spring was undeterred and quickly responded with a 71-yard touchdown run by Abdallah. Then its special teams came up with another huge play, recovering an onside kick. This set up yet another Cougar touchdown as Bowden rolled to his left before stopping and dropping an absolute dime to Coltin Locking for a 52-yard catch-and-run score to put China Spring up 35-7 with just under three minutes to go in the second. And although West Orange-Stark managed two more touchdowns, China Spring had enough cushion from its first half performance to secure a 35-22 victory. “I have been very proud of our young men for playing hard all season long. We fell short in district in two hard fought losses. The past two weeks, they are finally being rewarded for their hard work,” China Spring head coach Brian Bell said. “They kept the faith and kept chasing their goals. They are playing with a lot of confidence right now because they are taking their preparation seriously. It is a joy, as coaches, to be coaching these guys on Thanksgiving break and hopefully we can get one more week with them next week.” In order for China Spring to get that next week, it will have to take down a talented Sealy team in College Station on Friday, but with the way the Cougars have been playing, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to continue to see them advance in the playoffs.
1. Miller holds off Lampasas in quarterback showdown to remember
It was one of those games where you hate to see a team lose as Miller quarterback Andrew Body and Lampasas quarterback Ace Whitehead went toe-to-toe on Saturday night. After Lampasas running back Jack Jerome scored on the opening possession, the Buccaneers gave the Badgers a taste of what to expect as Body broke off a 43-yard touchdown run, found his receiver Lonnie Adkism for a 50-yard strike on the ensuing possession, and then ripped off a 55-yard touchdown run to put Miller up 21-7 after just three offensive possessions. The two offenses continued dueling as two more touchdowns by Jerome and a passing touchdown by Whitehead were countered by three more touchdowns by Body, two through the air and one on the ground, to put Miller up 40-28 at halftime. Body and Whitehead traded rushing touchdowns in the third quarter, sending the game to the fourth with Miller up 47-35. The fourth quarter started with another Body to Adkism connection from 19 yards out on a jump ball to put Miller up 54-35. Whitehead responded again as he turned on the jets down the right sideline for a 45-yard touchdown run to reduce the Miller lead back to 12. After a Miller fumble, it was Whitehead again as he hit his receiver Ethan Moreno on an absolute dart across the middle for a 27-yard score to cut the Miller lead to 54-49 with just under five minutes to go, setting up a grandstand finale. After a huge fourth down stop by its defense, Lampasas drove all the way to the Miller five yard line and faced a fourth-and-one play with just 50 seconds left. After a night full of offensive fireworks, it was time for the Miller defense to shine. The Buccaneers stopped Whitehead short of the chains on a quarterback keeper, sealing a roller coaster ride of a victory. Body finished with 300 yards passing, 267 yards rushing, and eight touchdowns, while Whitehead had 265 yards passing and 101 yards rushing for Lampasas. With Body and Adkism, who finished the night with 6 catches for 167 yards and a pair of touchdowns, leading the way, you could envision Miller making a deep run in the 4A Division I playoffs. The next test for the Buccaneers will come this Friday when they face off against Boerne for a spot in the fourth round.