SAN ANTONIO – Antwaan Gross was playing in a fourth-round playoff game for the first time, but it was hard to tell.
Gross, a sophomore, had no trouble performing on the big stage.
“I always have this mentality that nobody can guard me,” he said. “I’ve got to keep that. Come out hungry, come out real strong and have that mentality that nobody can stop you.”
Gross caught six passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns and intercepted two passes to help lead Refugio to a 49-12 Class 2A, Division I quarterfinal win over Holland on Thursday night at the Alamodome.
The Bobcats improved to 14-0 and moved into the semifinals against the winner of Friday night’s San Augustine-Groveton game. The semifinal game will be played next Thursday.
“I’m never surprised,” Refugio coach Jason Herring said of Gross. “He’s a tremendous playmaker. It’s hard to believe he’s only a sophomore. He’s a great, great kid and a great football player, very dynamic.”
Antwaan Gross getting it done on both sides of the ball tonight. Picks up the interception for Refugio with 23 seconds left in the first half. pic.twitter.com/uRnckzyXKs— Rey Castillo (@reycastillo361) December 6, 2019
Gross had touchdown catches of 23 and 49 yards from quarterback Austin Ochoa and blunted a Holland (13-1) scoring threat with an interception at the Refugio 3-yard line in the first half.
He added a 6-yard touchdown reception and another interception in the second half.
“I’m just having fun and running the plays my coach made for us,” Gross said. “It was fun. He told us right off the bat, we’ll be making a bunch of plays because they press us so we would have more opportunities to get open.”
The Hornets had not allowed more than 19 points in a game this season, but the Bobcats scored 28 in the first quarter.
Ochoa scored on runs of 2 and 6 yards in addition to his touchdown passes to Gross.
“When you’re facing one of the best offenses in the 2A division, you can’t stop it,” said Ochoa, who passed for 212 yards and rushed for 59. “We had some big-time plays from some big-time players. We came out and did our job and got the result we did.”
Refugio took control quickly as Jordan Kelley recovered a fumble at the Holland 27 on the first play from scrimmage and Ochoa scored three plays later.
“They were not really nervous,” Kelley said. “They really haven’t come this far, and they really haven’t experienced an atmosphere like that.”
The Bobcats yielded a 58-yard touchdown pass from Zach Spinn to Brady Shelton in the second quarter but did not allow another score until the fourth quarter.
“We just stayed focused and were prepared for everything they bring,” said defensive back Mike Firova. “We practiced all week long, and we were prepared for it.”
The Bobcats also scored on a 6-yard run in the second quarter by Naaji Gadsden, who added a 5-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Refugio running back Naaji Gadsden muscles his way into the end zone on a 5 yard TD run. Kick good.Refugio 49, Holland 6. 1:29 3Q. pic.twitter.com/BRul9Epjts— Rey Castillo (@reycastillo361) December 6, 2019
“We worked something like 18 hours Saturday, Sunday and Monday,” Herring said. “We’ve never put in those kind of hours. They run the Celina 10-1. They are straight man in your face and everybody the gap blowing. You can’t just run your conventional offense. If you line up and run your conventional offense, you’re going to get beat. Everything has to be changed and you only have three days to do it. I thought our kids performed flawlessly.”
As a result, the Bobcats moved closer to their goal with two steps remaining.
“I’ve been telling our kids all week long, don’t blink and miss the moment,” Herring said. “I told them most people in life are worried about their circumstances and their situation, and then when their golden opportunity comes, they blink and miss it. What I was trying to get the kids to understand is don’t blink and miss this chance.”