ARLINGTON, Texas – Paul Pewitt simply ran up against a better football team Thursday at AT&T Stadium in the 3A Division II state championship football game.
Gunter (15-1) limited the Brahmas to 130 yards on the ground, while running for 361 yards of its own to pull away in the second half for a 43-22 victory.
”Gunter was definitely a better team than I thought they were,” said Paul Pewitt coach Triston Abron. “They did a great job offensively, getting up to the second and third level with their o-linemen. The did a good job of cutting us down, we couldn’t get off their blocks. Hats off to those guys. They deserve every minute of what’s they’re experiencing.”
It was 22-22 at intermission thanks to a spectacular 75-yard interception return by junior Kadrien Johnson. He reversed field three times on the return, and broke several tackles. Johnson intercepted another passs in the final seconds of the first half to set up his own 1-yard touchdown plunge. Quarterback Cross Holder ran in two extra points to tie the game.
Johnson’s interceptions sparks Brahmas
Abron didn’t want to dwell on Gunter after the game.
”Let’s talk about La-Jathan (Allen), and the great season he had,” said Abron. “We had two other guys rush for 1,000 yards. All of our backs did a great job, but the MVP of our team was the offensive line. The past two weeks we ran up against some great defenses. I’m really pleased with the way our kids played all season. We were picked fourth in our district, and here we are in the state championship game.
”We knew in the spring what we had. They did exactly what I asked on August 5, and got us here. The great thing about this season is that it shows these kids that they can overcome a lot of things in their lives. That’s what this is all about to me. I’m so thankful these kids bought into what we were selling as coaches.”
Paul Pewitt couldn’t keep pace in second half
The second half was all Gunter. Running back Peyton Lowe scored twice on 4 and 9-yard runs. Bryson Rigsby also scored on a 4-yard run after a fourth down gamble by the Brahmas at their own 37 failed.
Lowe also contributed a team-high 7.5 tackles, and was named the defensive player of the game. Teammate Clayton Reed was the offensive player of the game after running for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Reed also caught one of the Tigers’ two completions for 20 yards.
The Tigers led 14-0 late in the first quarter when Holder put Pewitt on the board with a 1-yard run. Holder set up the score with a 31-yard pass to La-Jathan Allen. Allen had entered the game with more than 2,000 yards rushing this season, but was held to 37 yards on 13 carries by Gunter. Kei’untray Hawkins led the Brahmas ground game with 48 yards on five totes.
The game attracted Thursday’s largest crowd (15,233). In other games Mart beat Hamlin, 25-20, and defending 3A Division I champion Grandview outscored Pottsboro, 42-35.