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Brenham reaches state championship game with 56-21 win over Port Lavaca Calhoun

By David Campbell, The Eagle, Bryan, Texas
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Dec. 15--HOUSTON -- With a state semifinal football trophy in sight, the Brenham Cubs simply refused to wait.

Just before halftime, they took it away, scoring two defensive touchdown in 14 seconds on their way to a 56-21 win over Port Lavaca Calhoun on Saturday at Reliant Stadium.

Brenham seized control with stunning quickness. Senior linebacker Erik Yeagar smothered Calhoun quarterback Hunter Boerm in the backfield. The ball popped into the air and was batted to the side by Cub defenders until Bradon Baird grabbed it at the 11 and raced in.

"I saw someone get hit hard and all of a sudden the ball was right in front of me," Baird said. "I just picked it up and ran. That's all I could think, just run"

The Cubs insisted on a replay, or more correctly, a repeat on the ensuing possession. Sandcrabs halfback Brandon Smithwick was unable to handle a pitch on an option play and Brenham linebacker Desmond Lockett raced to the ball and on to the end zone.

"I felt better," said a smiling Brenham head coach Glen West. "They had figured some things out and it was a ball game. Football is a game of breaks and we had more breaks than them, so it was good."

Those two were back-breakers with Lockett getting a reward for his outstanding play early in the game against Calhoun's option offense.

The victory sends Brenham to their first state championship game since 2009. The Cubs will play Aledo, their '09 title game opponent. Brenham carries a 14-game winning streak into the noon Saturday game at the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Aledo (15-0), the highest-scoring Texas high school football ever with 985 points, defeated Ennis, 29-6.

"We were very fortunate because we played hard, and when you play hard, good things can happen," West said. "Our kids [handled] some things that were different for them on the option and we're just happy we're still playing."

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The Sandcrabs moved the football effectively after halftime, finishing a 62-yard touchdown drive with Cory Williams diving over the top for a Calhoun's only score of the second half. The Crabs' drive took eight minutes, 23 seconds.

The Cubs never needed that much time to score, and they kept adding insurance points to sustain or strengthen their lead.

They took a 42-14 edge just 46 seconds into the second half. Courtland Sutton's 46-yard kickoff return set up a 16-yard touchdown run from Earnest Patterson on Brenham's second play from scrimmage. Patterson, who rushed 22 times for 142 yards, scored his second touchdown by sweeping right, cutting up near the sideline and sprinting into the end zone.

Brenham, which punted only once, scored on its first three possessions of the second half, and ran out the clock on its fourth. Caleb Hill hit a pair of fast-moving receivers for touchdowns, lofting a pass over the middle for a 61-yard score to Tre'Vonte Johnson, his second touchdown reception.

"I overthrew a couple [bad balls], but my teammates said 'You're fine and we believe in you; you've done this all year long," said Hill of early-game misfires "They picked me up, brushed me off and I went back in the second half and settled down."

Hill delivered a more impressive pass to Sutton, who pulled away from a defender, made a reaching catch and scored from 35 yards.

"I think I was in the eighth grade when they went to state the last time," Sutton said. "I was cheering hard in Texas-Memorial Stadium. Nice and cold that day, but we were out there cheering as loud as we could. Now we get the chance to go out there, put on a show and play as hard as we can."

It was a Cubs' victory shared by Brenham's offense, defense and special teams.

They took the lead and never lost it with a fake field goal on the opening drive. Brenham huddled, but ran on several players who were on their field goal team after breaking it, while James Homan ran to the far left side of the formation in a modernized and legal version of the now-banned hidden-man play. Homan was wide open when Hill found him in the end zone for the score.

"We've been practicing it all year and decided, state semifinals, why not?" Hill said. "Take a chance. I don't think they'll be looking for it. Good play call by the coaching staff."

That was the same general vicinity where Johnson caught his first touchdown pass on a fade pattern from Hill. Johnson did not have full possession of the football as he fell to the turf despite close coverage from Mauro Garcia, but the ball landed in Johnson's belly and the 6-1 senior receiver had an 11-yard touchdown.

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Homan had one of the game's top catches when the Calhoun defense was expecting it. Under heavy pressure, Hill scrambled away and threw a pass deep while falling that Homan cradled near the left sideline. He got both feet in bounds as he caught the ball in front of two Sandcrab defenders.

By harassing Calhoun quarterback Boerm early in his reads, Brenham rarely let the Sandcrabs get their offense started without a speed bump. That speed bump was removed briefly on an 89-yard run form Sandcrabs' fullback Cory Williams. He was the first and best option and with a move to his left nearly scored. Lockett ran him down from behind, but Williams still got the touchdown on 1-yard run to end the first period.

Before the fumble fiasco -- Calhoun lost four in the final three minutes of the first half with Tre'Markes Smith ending the half with his second recovery for the Cubs -- the Sandcrabs threatened to overtake Brenham. Boerm had a fourth-down run for a first and cut the Cubs' lead to 21-14 on a 3-yard keeper with 4:57 left in the half. They then forced Brenham's only punt.

Brenham held Calhoun to 248 rushing yards, the best run defense against the Sandcrabs since Corpus Christi Calallen's 48-0 win, when Calhoun had just 164 yards.


(c)2013 The Eagle (Bryan, Texas)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services



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