ARLINGTON, Texas – Pleasant Grove had 437 total yards on offense, but it was defense that won the 4A Division II state championship for the Hawks against Wimberley Friday at AT&T Stadium.
Defensive player of the game Marcus Burris had two huge sacks, and the Hawks limited Wimberley to 37 yards on the ground in the 35-21 victory. This was Pleasant Grove’s second state title in school history, the Hawks beat West Orange-Stark in 2017, losing to Cuero in the championship game last year.
“When we go full-tilt and put our hearts and soul into the game we come away with no regrets,” said Pleasant Grove coach Josh Gibson. “This is a very emotional time for me personally, saying goodbye to 21 seniors who have accomplished so much.
“Wimberley did a really good job of bringing some pressure and stopping our pass game. We had a couple of turnovers because of that pressure.”
Hicks stuns Wimberley with kickoff return
Pleasant Grove fans among the 18,432 in attendance were on their feet for the opening kickoff. They were jumping and cheering as junior KJ Hicks returned that kick 88 yards for a touchdown.
Wimberley climbed back into contention a few minutes later when a fourth down gamble by the Hawks at the PG 23 came up short. Tight end Colby Boyle then turned a screen pass into a 14-yard touchdown with 5:17 left in the first quarter.
The Hawks answered 83 seconds later on a 54-yard run by senior Bruce Garrett. Garrett signed with Brigham Young University earlier this week, and named offensive player of the game after running for 254 yards and scoring three touchdowns.
Garrett leaves Pleasant Grove with most of the Hawks’ school rushing records. He ran for more than 1,700 yards this season despite a hip injury.
Garrett’s performance was necessary because Wimberley did an outstanding job of taking the Hawks’ passing game out of the picture. Senior quarterback Ben Harmon threw his 30th touchdown pass of the year in the third quarter to Antonio Watkins. Harmon had only one other completion against the Texans’ inspired defense.
Stivers leads Pleasant Grove defenders
Junior linebacker Gage Stivers was on the field in place of injured Nick Martin, leading the Hawks’ defense with five tackles. Cameron Weekly had 4.5 tackles. Junior Landon Jackson only had 1.5 tackles, but he had a sack and knocked down to passes. Burris also knocked a pass down to go with his sacks.
The Texans had tied to score at 14-14 late in the first quarter, but then went scoreless until the final two minutes of play. Kolby Goforth caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Cooper McCollum. Wimberley’s star signal-caller completed 13 of 30 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns.
McCollum accounted for 63 touchdowns in 2019, with 49 TD passes.
”I’ve had a father-son relationship with these guys,” said Gibson. “In the future I look forward to them coming back to visit. It’s going to be so different going into the weight room this off-season, but there’s always that next crew.”
That next crew includes Burris, Jackson, Martin, Quinn Bingham, Logan Johnson, Stivers, Torrey Phillips, Alex Murphy, Weekly, and several others.