A pair of second-half scoring drives was the difference in the TAPPS Division IV state semifinal Saturday at Cub Stadium.
Legacy Prep scored twice in a span of four minutes, and in a defensive battle, it was enough to hold off Bryan Brazos Christian for a 21-13 win.
“I’m excited for our kids,” Legacy coach Clint McDonald said. “They’ve worked so hard. I’m excited for the school, the coaches. It’s an exciting time. I told them to enjoy it for 24 hours so we can get back to work and get ready to go for state.”
The Lions (10-1) move on to the Division IV state final, where they’ll face Colleyville Covenant – a 42-0 winner over First Baptist – at noon on Saturday, Dec. 9, at Midway High School in Waco.
Defense ruled early in the game as the two teams combined for just three first downs in the opening quarter.
“We felt like running against them up front was going to be tough,” Brazos coach Andy Bell said. “We felt like we’ve gotten a lot better defensively over the last three or four weeks. Sometimes, this is kind of the way they shake out.”
The second-to-last play of the first quarter was a 27-yard punt from Brazos that set up the Lions with a first down at the Eagles’ 48-yard line.
Three plays into the second quarter, Legacy Prep lit the scoreboard. Jared May found Haydan Crowder when his route cut in and the receiver scored a 31-yard touchdown with 10:48 to go in the half.
Lions punter Jack Granak averaged 38.8 yards per kick in the game. Late in the half, a 45-yard punt started the Eagles at their own 10-yard line, but they soon found themselves on the Lions’ side of the field. One play resulted in 50 yards for Brazos – first a 35-yard run from Tucker Hartis, then a 15-yard personal foul on the Lions that followed.
While the play eventually led to a 1-yard touchdown run from Chris Coleman, it also took Hartis out of the game. The senior ran for 102 yards on 13 carries in the first half.
“We wanted to err on the side of caution because kids’ safety is the most important thing,” Brazos coach Andy Bell said. “You don’t ever want to lose one that important because it makes a difference, but he was not where he needed to be, and we just couldn’t take that chance.”
Defense dominated again early in the second half as both teams threw interceptions on the first drive. One of the interceptions was made by Legacy’s Jay Smith, who had two in the game.
“I just stuck with the game plan on defense,” he said. “Coach told me to stay back, and I stayed back. I didn’t know they would try me, but when they did, I made the play.”
When Legacy got the ball again, it covered 54 yards in seven plays. A conversion on fourth-and-6 was followed by a 19-yard rushing score from Dion Pinkard with 3:41 to play in the third.
“It was huge,” McDonald said of the fourth-down conversion. “They were stacking the box against us, and Jared made a great throw on a slant to Jack (Granak), and he got the big yardage for us, and we went down and scored. It was a big play.”
Pinkard led the Lions on offense with his 15-carry, 109-yard performance.
After a fourth-down stop on defense, the Lions marched down the field again. The four-play drive was capped with Jay Smith’s 19-yard touchdown run, and it was 21-7 with 11:45 to play.
The Eagles didn’t go down without a fight. A flag was thrown and picked up as Steel connected with Blake Smith for a 58-yard touchdown. The extra point missed, sealing the final margin with 2:46 to play.
Legacy’s Taurean Jemison recovered the ensuing onside kick and the Lions ran out the clock.