This 2017 version of the Kilgore High School Bulldogs is beginning to develop a heart-stopping, but exciting, habit: a flair for the dramatic.
Kilgore took a two-touchdown lead in the second half, then had to hold off a scrappy Chapel Hill team here at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium on Friday night. Chapel Hill trailed by just a touchdown and got into scoring range, but a sack by Kilgore’s Demorrea Richardson, then a batted-down pass on the game’s final play left the Ragin’ Red standing, 42-35.
That, of course, sets up a showdown with undefeated Carthage next Friday, in Carthage. Carthage won the UIL Class 4A Division I state championship last year, but lost to Kilgore along the way – Kilgore (5-1 overall, 2-0 in district play) has won the district championship the last two years, but hasn’t won in Carthage since 2003. The teams have only met in Carthage three to four times since then.
That’s next Friday night. But when Chapel Hill scored late to tie the game at 35, no one was thinking of Kilgore-Carthage.
Chapel Hill scored on a 35-yard touchdown pass with 1:53 left to tie the game at 35, leaving KHS fans with flashbacks to the double-overtime loss to Texas High two weeks ago.
But there wouldn’t be overtime this time around.
On Kilgore’s first play from scrimmage, Nick Hooper broke free for a 43-yard gain. A 15-yard penalty was tacked onto the run, and three plays later, Kilgore quarterback Patrick Jackson scored on a 17-yard run. Elivan Torres kicked for a 42-35 Kilgore lead with under a minute left.
Chapel Hill quarterback Khalan Griffin got his Bulldogs upfield rather quickly with his arm and his legs – Griffin would finish the night with over 270 yards passing, four touchdown passes and a TD run. But he wouldn’t tie the game again.
That’s because Richardson sacked Griffin on a third-down play with just 3.9 seconds left, forcing CHHS to use its final time-out for the fourth down. Griffin threw up a prayer, but the Bulldogs’ defense batted it down, sealing the win.
Griffin finished 20-of-34 for 277 yards and the four scores, and one TD run. Quinzarius Daniel was the primary target and threat. He caught eight passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Robbie Williams caught five passes for 75 yards and two scores, and Demarcus Attaway had seven catches for 63 yards.
Griffin had 57 yards rushing and the score. Hunter Branin had nine carries for 46 yards.
For Kilgore, Jackson was 3-of-5 for 81 yards and two touchdowns: one to Daniel Sifford, who was wide open on a 48-yard pass play across the middle, and another to Briant Mumphrey. Jackson ran for 134 yards and a pair of scores, his seventh and eighth of the season, respectively.
Mumphrey finished with 116 yards and a rushing touchdown; Ja’Vorie Hamilton had 83 yards; Nick Hooper had four carries for 47 yards and a score; offensive lineman Coby Slayter jumped on a loose ball, a fumble in the fourth quarter that could’ve meant disaster had Kilgore not recovered; and Kilgore finished with another 400-plus-yard rushing night.
Things looked hairy early-on. A Kilgore punt went bad – the only one that went bad all night, as Elian Torres would have a 60-yarder later – and the ball bounced off the ground. Torres tried to save it but couldn’t, and it gave Chapel Hill a first down at Kilgore’s 20-yard-line. Chapel Hill scored five plays later, an 8-yard pass to Williams for the 7-0 lead.
Kilgore scored to tie things on a 17-yard run by Hooper, and Elivan Torres hit the tying point after, capping a 10-play drive.
Chapel Hill would get in front again on its next drive, still in the first quarter, this time on a 14-yard touchdown pass to Daniel. The point after by Martin Juarez put CHHS up, 14-7.
A Kilgore fumble allowed Chapel Hill to get the ball back, but Kilgore stiffened and forced a punt. The Bulldogs scored in the second quarter, this time on a 6-yarder by Mumphrey, and again tied the game.
Kilgore went in front on Jackson’s first touchdown run of the night with 7:04 left in the first half, a 6-yarder, but then Chapel Hill tied it yet again at 21-all on a 37-yard run by Griffin with 5:42 left in the half.
Kilgore led at halftime, though, courtesy of the pass to the wide-open Sifford, who outran everyone to the end zone to make it 28-21 KHS.
A defensive battle in the third quarter ultimately went Kilgore’s way, on a 12-yard score by Mumphrey to give Kilgore the 35-21 lead. Chapel Hill got within a score on a 14-yard pass to Daniel, with 6:37 left, and then would tie it up on the 35-yard touchdown pass that almost sent the game to overtime.