Mart denies Refugio’s bid for back-to-back state titles
Dec. 20, 2017 at 11:12 p.m.
Updated Dec. 22, 2017 at 6 a.m.
ARLINGTON – Refugio coach Jason Herring wasn’t in the mood for reflection.
Herring remains proud of the way the Bobcats handled the adversity that came their way this season.
But nothing could erase the sting of a 34-21 Class 2A, Division I state final loss to Mart before 7,431 people on Wednesday night at AT&T Stadium.
“It really is amazing, but it still feels like a failure,” Herring said. “We worked hard to not only get here but to win state. When you come up short – our goal is not just to get here but to win it. So we didn’t reach our goal, Hoss. I’m real proud of everything that happened and all the good and all the amazing things, but we didn’t finish the job.”
The Bobcats fell short in their bid for back-to-back state championships and the school’s fifth state title and ended the season with a 13-2 record.
“I can’t put my finger on it,” Herring said. “I thought they did a great job handling the momentum swings, and I don’t think we did as good of a job. We were up 14 and they could have folded, and they didn’t. Whenever they got the momentum, I thought we kind of went flat and didn’t handle it very well.”
Refugio could not have started any better, jumping to a 14-0 lead.
Jared Kelley threw a 66-yard touchdown pass to Jamel LaFond on the Bobcats’ first play from scrimmage.
Four plays later, Kelley connected with Jake Tinsman for a 42-yard touchdown with 8:15 left in the first quarter.
But Refugio didn’t score again until 8:20 was left in the fourth quarter.
“I felt like everybody was going to get excited,” Kelley said. “I feel like we got a little too excited. We thought that this game was going to be like this the whole time, and then they started capitalizing on our mistakes.”
Mart (14-1), which won its sixth state title, scored the next four touchdowns.
Most came on big plays or were set up by big plays.
Shatydrick Bailey, the game’s offensive MVP, scored on a 44-yard run.
The Panthers set up for a field goal on their next possession before tying the game on a 2-yard pass from quarterback and holder Jace Terry to Bailey.
Mart took the lead with 16 seconds left in the half after stopping Refugio on downs.
The touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Bailey but was set up by a 45-yard pass from Terry to Jalon Kirven.
“Big plays killed us, no doubt about it,” Herring said. “Their speed at wide receiver was very hard for us to match up to, and the big plays got to us.”
Refugio’s defense stopped Mart on its first three drives of the second half, but the Bobcats couldn’t score despite starting drives at its 35, the Mart 36 and the Mart 48.
“Just things started
going wrong and weren’t going our way,” LaFond said. “I really can’t say.”
Mart took a 28-14 lead when Terry, who passed for 254 yards and two
touchdowns and ran for 94 yards and one touchdown, threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Kirven with 9:22 left in the fourth quarter.
“Nothing really changed momentum,” said Refugio linebacker Ysidro Mascorro. “It’s just in big games like that, big plays are going to happen. They probably just adjusted and did different things.”
The Bobcats needed only four plays to strike back when Kelley connected with Tinsman for a 23-yard touchdown pass with 8:20 left.
“I knew how the atmosphere was going to be,” said Kelley, who completed 14 of his 27 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns. “I’ve been around it a couple of times. You just have to get used to it.”
Terry scored the Panthers’ final touchdown on a 64-yard run with 6:24 remaining.
The Bobcats turned the ball over on downs and threw an interception on a halfback pass on their final possession.
“I’m highly thankful,” Mascorro said. “I’ve been thankful ever since we were able to come here. I was always told myself it’s better than getting a bronze. But I always told myself it’s better to do it with these people right here.”
“Just making it here was an accomplishment,” Kelley added. “We were the only South Texas team in the state championship. We just didn’t finish the job.”