Refugio passes another test en route to semifinals
Dec. 9, 2017 at 9:48 p.m.
Updated Dec. 10, 2017 at 6 a.m.
SAN ANTONIO - Refugio senior Sylvester Henderson has had to deal with enough adversity this year to last a lifetime.
Henderson's home was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, and he witnessed his younger brother suffer a serious neck injury on the field during a game that left him hospitalized for two months.
So Henderson wasn't about to let a disappointing first half put an end to the Bobcats' season.
"When we got into the locker room, we had a talk," Henderson said. "The talk was pretty much about no matter how bad we're down, we've been down before. It's not going to kill our ego or anything."
The Bobcats showed the resiliency that has carried them all season and rallied for a 38-14 win over Mason in a Class 2A, Division I quarterfinal Friday night at the Alamodome.
Refugio improved to 12-1 and moved into the semifinals against San Augustine, a 50-14 winner over Centerville.
The semifinal game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Berry Center in Cypress.
Mason (13-1) used two big plays to take a 14-10 lead at halftime.
The Punchers scored on a 43-yard run by quarterback Otto Wofford and a 34-yard pass from Wofford to Jake Comey.
Mason's second touchdown came a play after Refugio quarterback Jared Kelley lost a fumble and the Bobcats were assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
"I'm so, so proud of our kids," said Refugio coach Jason Herring. "I'm going to be honest with you, we were kind of shell-shocked at halftime. All of us - we had the deer in the headlights look. No one had done this to us this year. We had to regroup. I'm so proud of these kids for regrouping."
Refugio got a 33-yard field goal from Diego Gonzales on the final play of the first half.
The Bobcats drove 68 yards to score on a 1-yard run by Jacobe Avery on its first possession of the second half and never surrendered the lead.
"At halftime, the coaches got together to see what was working," Kelley said. "If it was working, we weren't going to stop it until they stopped it. Refugio has had a lot of adversity, and that's just another thing. We haven't backed down from adversity, so we just do what we do."
The Bobcats took a two-score lead on a 28-yard run by Daryon Ramirez before Kelley threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jake Tinsman.
Kelley completed 18 of 31 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns.
His first touchdown pass went 53 yards to Jamel LaFond in the first quarter after Mason had scored.
LaFond had seven catches for 171 yards, and also intercepted his sixth pass of the season as the Bobcats scored 28 unanswered points against a team that had allowed a total of 47 points coming into the game.
"We actually talked to Jared in the locker room at halftime," LaFond said. "We told him, 'We got you as long as you got us and we can do this thing.'
It means a lot to us. That tells us a lot about our offense and our football team."
Refugio's defense limited Mason to four first downs and 151 total yards - 77 coming on the two touchdown plays.
The Punchers went 0-for-10 on third down, and came up short on their only fourth-down attempt.
Refugio also intercepted three passes and its final score came on a 33-yard interception return by Avery. Prentiss Jones had the other interception.
"After they put that 14 up on us, we decided enough was enough," Henderson said. "There wasn't going to be anymore of that. We were going to play our football and we're not going to play there's. We allowed zero points (in the second half) so who wouldn't be happy about that."
Herring was ecstatic about the job his defense did and knew the offense would eventually find a way to score.
"We really played great defense all night except for two plays," Herring said. "That's an incredible job by our defensive coaches right there. That was the difference right there."
The Bobcats turn their attention in a short week to San Augustine, seeking their fifth appearance in the state final in the last seven years.
"I'll tell you what, Hoss," Herring said. "If our defense continues to play like they're playing and they give us a bunch of opportunities, I feel like this offense can be as good as anybody in the state."