HOUSTON– Kilgore did just enough to survive a comeback win by Stafford on Friday night to escape Sheldon ISD Stadium with a 28-26 Class 4A DI Area round victory.

With the Bulldogs’ 9th win in a row, Kilgore (11-1) advances to the third round of the UIL football playoffs to meet district rival Chapel Hill for the second time this season next week at a site and time to be determined. Chapel Hill (9-3) defeated Brazosport 51-27.

Stafford completes its season with a 7-5 record.

Da’Marion Van Zandt threw for two touchdowns, one to Dadrian Franklin, and the other to Jermaine Roney, and Davin Rider rushed for 207 yards and two touchdowns, eclipsing 2,000 rushing yards for the season.

The defense also rose to the occasion with a sack by Alex Chavez on the Spartans final drive of the evening, a Franklin interception in the first half and a gang of hungry Bulldogs stopped Stafford quarterback Brayden Batiste’s conversion run for two points a yard short, which would have tied the contest at 28 with 2:18 remaining in the game.

Penalties and turnovers on Kilgore certainly helped the Spartans in their valiant bid of outscoring the 9-4A DI champions 20-7 in the third and four periods.

The Bulldogs outgained the Spartans 398 to 285. Kilgore rushed for 209 yards and Van Zandt completed 8-of-16 passes. Roney had a spectacular evening with four receptions for 131 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown reception.

He also recovered two timely onside kicks, the one to open the contest and another near the end which helped stave off Stafford’s frantic come-from-behind bid.

Franklin had the 23-yard scoring reception, Corey Rider had two catches for 16 yards and another inside the Spartans’ five yard line late, which was called back on a holding penalty against Kilgore. Davin Rider also had a reception for 19 yards.

Batiste was 14-of-24 passing for 130 yards with scoring tosses of 24 yards to Jamaal Wiley and 18-yards to Jordan Barrett. He also completed a conversion pass for two points to Quardale Patt off the swinging gate.

The junior quarterback also scored on an 8-yard run, which cut the deficit to one, Kilgore 21, Stafford 20, with 29 seconds remaining in the third period as the extra point by Ivan Maldonado failed.

Chris Holland led the Spartans receiving corps with 5 catches for 48 yards.

Stafford’s final touchdown came on a 31-yard Jamaal Wiley run with 2:18 left to play. The TD capped a five-play,49-yard march. Batiste was gang tackle a yard shy of the goal line on the conversion attempt to preserve the victory for Kilgore.

Leading 21-20 in the fourth quarter, Kilgore put together one of its best drives of the season, starting with 9:40 left to play, and marching 53 yards in 12 plays to extend its lead to eight, 28-20.

Kilgore won the toss and deferred to the second half, electing to kick off. Roney recovered Chris Baldazo’s onside kick, giving the Bulldogs a first down at the Stafford 39 yard line. Rider’s initial carry covered 21 yards, giving the Ragin’ Red a first down at the 18. Van Zandt hooked up with Franklin for a 23-yard scoring completion just 46 seconds elapsed off the clock.

Davin Rider, who rushed for more than 200 yards for the fourth time this season, scored on runs of 79 and 4-yards. His first touchdown, coming on the long run gave Kilgore a 14-0 lead after Baldazo converted his first two of four extra points in the contest.

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