ARLINGTON — Bremond knew if it could just hold onto the ball, it could wear down its smaller opponent from Albany on Thursday.
That proved to be a difficult task, however, as the Tigers fumbled five times and lost three as jitters consumed them for the first three quarters.
Their power shined through when they needed it most, and they scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to stun the Lions, 28-21, to claim the Class 2A Division II state championship at AT&T Stadium.
“I did think that, because I knew we could move them,” junior Rayandre Browning said. “As long as we get a little bit of movement, that’s 2 or 3 yards a pop right there. So once we got in (our power set), I got excited. I said let’s go, let’s get this and get back into the ballgame. . . . All the credit goes to the line on that set right there.”
Browning started the comeback with a 13-yard touchdown straight up the gut with 8:14 to go, and Roshauud Paul finished it with a pair of scoring jaunts from 35 and 23 yards out. The latter of those runs proved to be the game-winner with 1:17 to go and earned Paul the game’s offensive MVP award.
Paul rushed for 149 yards and threw for 79 and another score, while Browning spelled him with 77 yards on 14 carries.
While the Tigers tamed their own mistakes late in the game, they forced the Lions into some.
A high pass from Albany quarterback Drew Neece found its way into the hands of Joe Williams, his second interception of the day to earn him the game’s defensive MVP honor, with 3:03 left to set up Bremond’s last touchdown.
“We put our all into it, our heart and everything,” defensive lineman Jarvis Jones said. “In the second half we were the better team. We decided we were going to hit hard and hit where we’re trying to get. We’re the state champion. We’re very blessed. All the glory goes to God on this.”
Neece and Albany had one more chance, and they twice converted fourth-and-10 situations on a drive that reached the Bremond 33 with five seconds left. But Neece’s final throw fell incomplete as time expired, and the Tigers began to celebrate their second state title in school history (1981).
“It’s just a testament to our seniors and our whole team that there’s no quit in us,” Bremond coach Jeff Kasowski said. “We were determined to get it done, and that’s all you can say. They hung in, hung in, got rolling finally offensively in the second half. The defense played pretty well the whole night, and it’s just a testament to the team.”
Albany was limited to 231 total yards, but it built its lead largely on the strength of Bremond’s miscues.
The Tigers’ first turnover of the day became a 26-yard touchdown pass on a throwback screen from Neece to Alex Faith. It was Faith who caught all seven of Neece’s completions for 108 yards.
Albany’s lead swelled to 14-0 with its only sustained drive of the day, a nine-play, 73-yard march that ended in a Stevie Phillips 1-yard plunge early in the second quarter.
Bremond had mostly gotten in its own way to that point offensively, but Paul found a matchup he liked and hit Josh White with a 39-yard touchdown pass after White came up with a circus interception to allow them to stay in a manageable score, down 14-7 at halftime.
The Tigers’ woes continued in the third, when Williams couldn’t pick up an option pitch that went awry, and Neece recovered at the Bremond 17. He scored from a yard out four plays later, and the Lions’ two-score lead was back in tact.
Browning took over at quarterback on the next series and ran the ball nine straight times for 50 yards. The Tigers had to turn the ball over on downs at the Albany 19, but the physical tone Bremond wanted was finally set.
Their final three drives all ended in the end zone, and the Tigers had their coveted state title to cap an undefeated season.
“We’ve been to the final several times and just hadn’t quite got it done,” Kasowski said. “When you talk to the townspeople and you get that story — we felt like we had a really good chance this year to get the monkey off our back. It was awesome that we could come up here and get it done. Whatever way it happened, it happened. I’m so proud for our team.”
Canadian 34, Mason 7
Tanner Schafer threw two touchdown passes and Chance Cook ran for two more scores as Canadian beat Mason 34-7 to take the Class 2A Division I state championship.
The win gives 15-0 Canadian its third state championship in four title games, all since 2007.
Schafer completed 22 of 28 passes for 232 yards, and Cook had a game-high 80 rushing yards in 12 carries.
Mason’s only score came with 4:56 left in the first quarter as it took a 7-0 lead on Miguel Castillo’s 1-yard run.
Castillo carried 20 times for 73 yards and passed for 45 yards as Mason finished 14-1 in its second trip to a state championship final.
Waskom 41, Newton 22
Chan Amie scored touchdowns on an 88-yard kickoff return and a 5-yard run as Waskom defeated Newton to claim the Class 3A Division II championship.
Dillon Benton, Trace Carter and Junebug Johnson added touchdowns for Waskom (15-1) on runs of 51 yards, 2 yards and 1 yard, respectively. Keilon Johnson scored a touchdown recovering a Newton fumble in the end zone.
The touchdowns for Newton (12-4) came on 8-yard runs by Calum Foster and Gabe Foster and a 43-yard pass from Roney Elam to Gabe Foster.
The Wildcats finished the season with 15 consecutive victories.