NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — Muenster won a hard-fought 24-14 Class 2A Regional Semifinal playoff game over Dawson, on a cold, rainy Friday afternoon, ending the Bulldogs’ season with a 10-3 record.
While Dawson had a large edge in total yards gained and time of possession, two critical turnovers and a failure to convert some key scoring opportunities cost them a chance to advance further.
The Hornets from Muenster (11-2), near the Texas-Oklahoma border, will advance to play 2A Central Texas powerhouse Mart, a blowout playoff winner on Friday, next weekend at a time and location still to be determined.
The Bulldogs’ best and last chance to score in the fourth quarter and cut the 10-point deficit came when they drove the ball to the eight-yard line midway through the final quarter.
Facing fourth and eight and trailing by 10 points, Dawson declined a short field goal, and attempted to go for the score. Quarterback Brendan Horner swept to the left side of the field and at the last moment pitched it to Da’Mariyea Hamilton, only to see him stopped by a host of Muenster defenders at the one yard line with 5:49 left in the game.
All that was left was for Muenster to run out the clock which they were able to do with one more long drive.
After a 21-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter by Muenster’s Lane Trubenbach, Dawson cranked up its powerhouse offense for the first time in the second half.
The Bulldogs moved the ball crispy 80 yards in just five plays as quarterback Horner scored from six yards out. Hamilton scored on a two point conversion run and it was 17-14, Muenster, with just 3:30 left in the third quarter.
But the momentum on Dawson’s side didn’t last long. Muenster took the ensuing kickoff and steadily moved the ball down the field. Jonathan Wheeler boosted the margin back to double figures with a 21-yard yard scoring run, making the score 24-14 with two minutes left in the third quarter.
Dawson had one more chance to score early in the third quarter, but Horner fumbled at midfield and Garrett Hess recovered for Muenster.
After falling behind, 14-0, in the first quarter to the Hornets, the Bulldogs roared back as they had done so often in this special season.
Facing 4-and-3 at its own 30-yard line, Dawson coach Ronnie Striplin call for the gamble on fourth down and it paid off. Horner ripped off a 20-yard run up the middle for a first down.
Six plays later, running back Hamilton broke loose for 12-yard scoring run to cut the deficit to 14-6 after the two-point conversion was stopped. It capped a powerhouse 10-play 75-yard drive with every play on the ground, the hallmark of the Dawson playoff advance.
The Bulldogs had a chance to tie up the game before halftime on a more unconventional route, throwing the football.
Quarterback Horner completed a brilliant 47-yard pass to Dillon Easley and followed that up with a 25-yard strike to Bodey Martinez to move the ball to the 15-yard line with 23 seconds left before halftime. But on the next play, disaster struck as Horner was intercepted by Trubenbach to end the drive and give Muenster an 8-point halftime lead.
Horner, a senior, finished the game with 143 yards rushing on 24 carries and 75 yards passing.
On the first drive of the game for the Hornets, Grant Ward caught a 14-yard pass from Trubenbach to open the scoring, capping a 7-play 44-yard drive after a long punt return for an early 7-0 lead.
Dawson was stopped on its next series and Muenster went right back to work with a mixture of running and passing. Trubenbach broke off tackle for a 12-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 lead after another McTaggert extra point.