Kilgore falls to Stephenville after second half rally
By George Whitley, Sports correspondent
Dec. 7, 2012 at 5:21 p.m.
MANSFIELD - A furious second half rally came up just a little short for the Kilgore Bulldogs in their quest to return to the state championship for the first time in eight years.
The Stephenville Yellow Jackets put it on the shoulders of their talented quarterback Tyler Jones and he answered the call. Jones, who completed 17 of 25 passes for 293 yards and rushed for 116 yards on 18 carries, registered the game winner with 2:09 left to play.
Jones crashed in from three yards out as the Yellow Jackets escaped Newsom Stadium with a 42-32 win over the Bulldogs in a game packed with lots of offense and plenty of excitement.
Stephenville (12-1) looks to nab its fifth state crown and first since 1999 this Friday at Cowboy Stadium in the Class 3A, Division I title tilt. The Jackets are slated to face the undefeated El Campo Rice Birds in a 7:30 p.m. kick.
The Bulldogs (11-2) advanced one step further than 2011. The tandem of Austin Jordan and Kevrin Justice combined for 266 yards and three TDs as Kilgore rallied from what had been at one point a 35-10 deficit.
Stephenville proved unstoppable in the first half, scoring on six of eight possessions and racking up 348 yards. After taking the opening kickoff and driving 91 yards in seven plays, the Jackets caught a break when Kilgore mishandled the ensuing kick.
Jones, who recorded four rushing touchdowns, darted in from 17 yards out to make it 14-0 with not even three minutes expired in the contest.
The Bulldogs promptly countered when Justice bolted 45 yards to the house to cap a three play, 62-yard drive that used just 52 seconds of the play clock.
Just when it looked as if Kilgore would get the Jackets off the field, they'd come up with a big third down conversion. On third-and-10 from the Stephenville 45, Jones and Alex Sanchez connected on a 54-yard wheel route to the Kilgore 1-yard line. Jones did the honors from a yard out on the next play to make it 21-7 with still 4:18 to go in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs proceeded to go on a 16-play, 67-yard drive that chewed up 7:141 of the first and second period. Kilgore stalled out on offense and called on Hector Peralez, who drilled a 29-yard field goal at 4:29 of the first half.
Stephenville appeared to put the game on ice with a pair of scores packaged into a little over two minutes of the second frame. Witt Westbrook pushed his way across from two yards at 2:19 and another fumbled kickoff by Kilgore set up a 29 yard Jones to Sanchez strike at 2:10.
The fireworks were not quite complete in the waning moments of the first half as Jordan ripped off a 70-yard scoring dash to make it 35-17 at intermission. The two teams had scored a combined 52 points and racked up more than 600 yards of total offense in the opening 24 minutes.
Kilgore took the second half kickoff and marched 73 yards in 13 snaps as Justice took it in from four yards to cut the deficit to 35-24 with 6:41 to play in the third. The two teams traded punts and the Bulldogs missed out on a 41-yard field goal that drifted wide left at the end of the third.
A.J. Davis sparked the Kilgore cause when he picked a Jones pass at 7:50 of the fourth stanza to set in motion a drive resulting in points. Cooper Coldiron, who hit on 10 of 17 passes for 128 yards, found Aaron Foy in the back of the end zone with 5:08 to the 22-yard score was followed by a Coldiron 2-point conversion toss to DaQuellan Scott and suddenly it was 35-32.
It was at that point Stephenville pinned its hopes on Jones and he more than answered the bell.