By TOMMY WELLS
CISCO – When the final seconds ticked off the game clock on Friday evening at Chesley Field, Cole Abbott and Bobby Wells walked off the field and into the Strawn High School record books.
The two, along with help from fellow seniors Dub Little, Louis Berumen and Jon Thomas, helped carry Strawn into the six-man state semifinals for only the fifth time in the school’s long history by leading the Greyhounds to a 52-42 victory over the Newcastle Bobcats.
None of Strawn’s seniors felt too much like celebrating.
“We didn’t play as well as we would have liked,” said Wells. “We won, but we should have played better. We just gave up too much in the second half.”
With the win, Strawn advances to the semifinals to face defending Division II state champion Richland Springs for the right to advance to the state finals in two weeks. The Greyhounds, now 12-1, are scheduled to play Richland Springs on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Hico.
Offensively, Strawn pretty much had its way with Newcastle. The Greyhounds rolled up more than 300 total yards in the contest, and scored eight rushing touchdowns.
Sophomore Jacob Trujillo was among the biggest pains for the Bobcats. He rushed for a career-high 157 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries.
Trujillo helped the Greyhounds get off to a quick start. He opened Strawn’s first series with an 11-yard run. Then, following short runs by Wells and Noel Martinez, he finished the brief four-play, 60-yard drive by taking a handoff from Harrison Nowak and sprinting around the left end for 48 yards and a touchdown.
The SHS defense would come up big for Strawn. The Greyhounds held Newcastle a yard short on a fourth-and-10 play from the Strawn 13, giving the ‘Hounds a first down at their own 4 with less than three minutes left in the first quarter.
Strawn made Newcastle pay dearly for the failed fourth-down try moments later. Sparked by a 15-yard run by Martinez – and a subsequent personal foul penalty on the Bobcats, Strawn raced 74 yards in 11 plays to take a 16-0 advantage.
Ross Alison capped Strawn’s second scoring drive with a six-yard touchdown run.
Newcastle, which finished the year at 8-5, managed to score on a four-yard run by senior Michael Moreno to pull to within 16-6 at the half.
The Bobcats, which outgained Strawn in total offense, pulled even closer on the opening drive of the third quarter. Newcastle raced 48 yards in three plays and pulled to within 16-14 with 8:27 left in the third.
The Bobcats’ happy mood lasted a mere 20 seconds, however.
On the Greyhounds’ first play from scrimmage in their ensuing series, Trujillo took a short pitch off the right side, broke a tackle at the NHS 31 and turned the effort into a 50-yards scoring jaunt.
Victor Hernandez booted the PAT, staking Strawn to a 24-14 cushion.
Overall, Hernandez was solid on PAT tries, converting five of his seven kicking tries.
Strawn looked as if it would blow the game open moments later. Wells stretched the SHS lead to 30-14 with 5:31 left in the third by scoring on a 37-yard scamper.
The Bobcats came roaring back from there, however. Newcastle scored in a two-minute span later in the third and trimmed Strawn’s lead to 30-28.
NHS linebacker Preston Hobbs started the Bobcats’ run by picking off a Greyhound pass and returning it 47 yards for a touchdown.
Wells – one of only three plays (along with Abbott and Thomas) who suited up for Strawn’s last berth in the state semifinals in 2009 – gave Strawn the boost it needed from there. He pushed Strawn’s lead to 10, at 38-28, later in the third by breaking off a 25-yard scoring jaunt.
Newcastle didn’t go down easy. The Bobcats staged one final run at the Greyhounds, scoring on a 1-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter to pull to within 38-34.
Alison, who scored on two of his four carries, helped Strawn fend off the NHS threat. He capped the Greyhounds’ first possession of the final frame with a two-yard scoring run.
Alison’s second TD pushed the Greyhounds’ lead to 46-34.
Newcastle still refused to go away quietly. The Bobcats scored with 1:53 left in the contest and cut Strawn’s lead to four, at 46-42.
Wells made sure Strawn had the last laugh. The senior sprinter reeled off a 22-yard scoring run on a second-and-14 play that gave the ‘Hounds a 10-point advantage with 50 seconds left in the affair.
Wells finished the game with 111 yards on 10 attempts.
By TOMMY WELLS
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