Shiner defeats Thorndale to return to state semifinals (w/gallery)

Despite the chilly 32 degree weather and 61 percent humidity, Shiner kicker Hunter Mraz chose to kick barefoot against the Thorndale Bulldogs at the Class 1A, Division I quarterfinal at Shelton Stadium.

BUDA - Shiner's Chad Neubauer knew his teammates would take care of him, so he made sure to take care of them.

Neubauer intercepted a pass at the goal line in the fourth quarter to help preserve the Comanches' 14-10 Class 1A, Division I quarterfinal win over Thorndale on a bitterly cold Friday night at Shelton Stadium.

Shiner improved to 10-3 and advanced to the semifinals for the second straight season. The Comanches will have a rematch against Mart, a 58-26 winner over Bosqueville.

Neubauer's interception of a Riley Schaefer pass in the middle of the field stopped a Thorndale drive that had reached the Shiner 10-yard line with just more than nine minutes remaining.

"There was a guy cutting across in front of me," Neubauer said. "I know a lot my friends were behind me covering him. I got in front and did what coach tells me to do, and I got in front of the ball and picked it off."

The Shiner defense did not allow Thorndale to score after its second possession of the game. The Bulldogs had 166 of their 226 yards on their first two drives.

"Our defense stepped up when they had to," said Shiner coach Steven Cerny. "That was a big play by Neubauer on the interception. We got a big sack there at the end."

Thorndale reached Shiner territory only once after its first two drives before Neubauer recorded the game's only turnover.

"We know we have a good defense, and we stepped up, and that's what we had to do to get the win," Neubauer said. "It's playing with heart and putting it all on the line for going to state."

Shiner moved the ball successfully in its veer offense. The Comanches had 341 rushing yards and averaged more than 5 yards per carry, and their only attempted pass was wiped out by a penalty.

Quarterback Jacob Stafford carried 28 times for 181 yards and scored on a 5-yard run, Neubauer added 111 yards on 18 carries, and Marcus Coleman had 16 attempts for 58 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown run.

But Shiner was unable to score after driving to the Thorndale 14-yard line and twice reaching the Thorndale 7.

"We had a drive going, and I went out wide, and I'll take the blame for it," Cerny said. "We had them reeling a little bit, and it didn't work out. We just couldn't quite do it. There were times we could have thrown the ball, but we were doing so well on the ground that we just wanted to keep it in their hands."

The defense made sure the lead stood up, getting two sacks from tackle Dillon Kalina, including one on Thorndale's final possession.

"We knew what they were trying to do to throw the little screen outside, but then they started hurting us with the quarterback run up the middle, so we had to mix it up at the end," Cerny said. "Give coach (Billy) Turek credit. He always finds a way."

The Comanches found a way back to the semifinals, despite coming from behind in temperatures that dipped into the 20s.

"The cold at first gets to you," Neubauer said. "But once you start playing in it, it goes away. Your mind blocks it out, and you've just got to play."

Shiner 14, Thorndale 10

Shiner01400--14
Thorndale10000--10

First quarter

Thorndale: Colton Austin 49-yard pass from Riley Schaefer; Colton Austin kick good, 9:54Thorndale: Austin 22-yard field goal, 1:11

Second quarter

Shiner: Jacob Stafford 5-yard run; Hunter Mraz kick good, 9:48Shiner: Marcus Coleman 2-yard run; Mraz kick good, 0:52

SHITHO
First Downs2213
Yards Rushing66-34123-90
Yards Passing0146
Passes0-0-0-022-13-1-1
Punts057.7
Fumbles-lost2-00-0
Penalties-yards6-515-35

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING-- Shiner, Dadrian Taylor 1-(-6), Jacob Stafford 28-181, Chad Neubauer 18-111, Marcus Coleman 16-58, Thorndale, Riley Schaefer 10-45, Darius Brooks 4-32, Eric Guzman 2-12, Colton Austin 4-8, Rowdy McCoy 2-3,

PASSING-- Thorndale, Riley Schaefer 22-13-146-1,

RECEIVING-- Thorndale, Darius Brooks 1-5, Eric Guzman 1-13, Colton Austin 5-69, Jake Miller 4-33, Rowdy McCoy 1-15, Dillon Bankston 1-15,