The state semi-final round again is the East Bernard Brahmas stumbling block for the second straight season after falling to the Paul Pewitt Brahmas 24-18 at the Waco ISD Stadium Friday night.
Trailing late in the fourth quarter, East Bernard had what they wanted, two shots at the endzone on two separate drives. However, they came up short on both. One potentially could have been overturned with replay (ironically, replay will be used in the state championship games), the other fell just out of the reach of Brahma's arms in the endzone.
"We had our chances to make plays, things didn't work out our way tonight," East Bernard Head Coach Wade Bosse said. "I'm super proud of these kids, especially our seniors. They fought their tails off all night long. We had some chances, we had some bad breaks, but that's the way it goes in a big ball game like this. You just got to make one more play than the other team and unfortunately for us, tonight (Paul Pewitt) made one more play."
East Bernard led 18-16 at the half and received the ball to start the third quarter.
After a first-down to start their drive, East Bernard looked to be gaining some steam. A holding call on third down, stopped the momentum, making thrid and manageable, third and long. After a deep pass was off-target, East Bernard punted.
Paul Pewitt and their rushing offense that averaged over 400 yards a game this season, woke up on their first drive to open the half.
Paul Pewitt didn't break anything long on the Brahmas defense, but they grounded out a long 18-play drive that drained the remaining time in the third quarter and ate into the fourth. Paul Pewitt scored on a short three-yard run and after a converted two-point play, they led 24-16.
East Bernard answered right back with their own long 12-play drive, clock-eating drive. If they were going to score and tie the game, they weren't going to leave much time on the clock for Paul Pewitt.
On third and goal from the five, junior Kameron Matthews had a run to the half-yard line and as he was angling for the pylon, he fumbled the ball out of bounds. Or so it seemed, the referee signaled the ball was recovered by Paul Pewitt and awarded them possession.
The defense which had been East Bernard's calling card all season was called on once more to force a three and out with time running out.
East Bernard held and forced a punt. Senior Reagan Whitley made the catch and got a good return but was tackled as he went out of bounds at the 30-yard line, giving East Bernard an extra 15 yards with time ticking down.
On third and five at the 10-yard line, senior Tanner Baggett got the ball, as he was looking for the corner, he went too wide and was tackled for a loss. With a final play left in their season, sophomore quarterback Dallas Novicke found Baggett in the end zone, but the ball was a hair long and East Bernard turned the ball over on downs.
East Bernard's defense played big for the majority of the game, getting stops on fourth and one's on back-to-back Paul Pewitt drives in the first half. Offensively Paul Pewitt was held to 237 yards, all on the ground.
"I felt like we fought hard through all 48 minutes, just things didn't go our way at times," Bosse said.
Senior Carson Little led East Bernard with 108 rushing yards on 10 carries. Little also threw for a touchdown. Mid-way through the second quarter, Novicke tossed the ball to Little on the sweep, he hit a wide-open senior Reagan Whitley to put them up 18-8.
The defense held for large stretches of the game but Paul Pewitt was still able to tag East Bernard for three touchdowns, one on a short interception return on East Bernard's first drive of the game, the other on a 25-yard touchdown run towards the end of the first half. Paul Pewitt's final score gave them their final lead in the fourth.
Paul Pewitt is the first team to score more than one touchdown on the East Bernard defense in the playoffs and they're the team moving on.
Paul Pewitt will play Gunter in the state championship game this Thursday at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
East Bernard will say goodbye to a talented senior class of Carson Little, Douglas Grymes, Ryan Morse, Kameron Matthews, Tanner Baggett, Ethan Hlavinka, Shane Hlavinka, Reagan Whitley, Colby Jedlicka, Cody Hillman, Cole Lee, Talon Sanders, J.R. Schauer and Trey Steffens.
"What a super class, they've come a long way since junior high, so proud of each and every one of them," Bosse said. "The confidence that grew within the entire time they were East Bernard Brahmas it's just a special group."