Happy whips Knox City, Miami edges Springlake-Earth in 1A Division I regional semifinals


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Happy’s Quay Hodges makes a catch over two Knox City defenders during a Class 1A Division I regional semifinal game in Petersburg on Friday. [Elise Bressler/ For Press Pass Sports]

Cowboys dominate Greyhound once again 

It’s rare to see Happy as a heavy underdog in a playoff game.

However, the Cowboys showed why that might not be a good idea. Using a punishing rushing attack and opportunistic defense, the Cowboys took out previously unbeaten Knox City, 62-34, in a Class 1A Division I regional semifinal game in Petersburg Friday night.

The game marked the third time these two teams met since 2020, with the Cowboys (11-1) grabbing wins in all three meetings.

For most of the year, Happy has been able to get out to sizable leads before stumbling down the stretch and pulling off close wins. Twice in this game it looked like the same thing was going to occur, but the Cowboys pulled off their most complete game of the season to pull off the win.

In the second quarter Happy raced out to a 32-8 lead after Noe Juarez hit Kole Gibson on a 26-yard touchdown strike. Knox City, which ended its year at 11-1, scored on back-to-back possessions cutting the lead at 32-20 with just over a minute left before half. With all the momentum on the Greyhounds side, Juarez scrambled out of the pocket from the 19-yard line, shook a tackle at midfield, then outraced Knox City to the endzone for the score and a huge momentum swing headed to half.

Shifting to the second half, Cutter Hodges plunged in from one yard out to give the Cowboys a 46-20 lead. Instead of rolling over, Knox City answered quickly. Utilizing a hurry up offense and a timely fumble recovery, the lead was cut back to 46-34 Happy with 3:24 remaining in the third.

The Greyhounds then executed an onside kick and recovery and looked ready to cut it to a one score game. Going for the jugular, Knox City’s Bryson Callaway launched the ball downfield where Juarez plucked it out of the air over the Greyhound receiver at the goal line. That was one of four turnovers on the night for Knox City.

The Cowboys took advantage of the turnover by marching down the field on a 61-yard drive that took more than four minutes off the clock and was capped off early by a 20-yard touchdown run on a delayed drive to Jaxon Stoker to extend the lead back out to 20. That score removed the wind out of the sails of the No. 2-ranked Greyhounds early in the fourth and showed the grit of a Cowboys team that was picked to lose by 45 points.

Juarez finished the night going 7-of-8 through the air for 104 yards and cashing in four of those throws for scores along with that long scoring run in the first half.  Stoker and Blackmon combined for 20 rushing attempts and 136 of the 267 yards rushing on the night for the Cowboys physical running game. The win propels Happy into the state quarterfinals for the ninth time in eleven years where they will take on Miami on Friday night in a state quarterfinal at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Panhandle.

The Miami Warriors moved to 12-0 after outlasting Springlake-Earth on Friday night. [Provided photo]

Miami outlasts Springlake-Earth 

Luke Wheeler’s 18-yard touchdown reception from Haiden Thompson with 12 ticks of the clock remaining kept Miami undefeated and moving on in the playoffs with a 42-34 Class 1A Division I regional semifinal win over Springlake-Earth on Friday night in Matador.

The Warriors (12-0) now get Happy (11-1) in the state quarterfinals at 6:30 p.m. on Friday in Panhandle.

For most of the night the Warriors and Wolverines (8-4) went back and forth on the scoreboard before Miami took its first lead in the third quarter when Thompson found a wide-open Breken Early from 24 yards out and a 34-28 lead. Springlake-Earth answered right back as J.J. Jaramillo ripped off an 11-yard run around right end, but the two-point conversion kick fell short of the crossbar to keep the score tied at 34.

That’s when the defenses took over. The Wolverines were at the doorstep in the third when Jaramillo was stood up just short of the goal line on fourth down by Thompson for the Warriors to take over. A fumble early in the fourth by Springlake-Earth looked to set up Miami in great shape but the Wolverines defense stopped the Warriors defense on downs to take back over. After a fourth down conversion on the next drive, Wheeler sprinted through the line to force a big loss on third down which led to another turnover on downs for the Wolverines offense late in the fourth.

With a win in their grasp, Miami began its march to victory at their own 18-yard line.  Thompson scrambled on back-to-back plays for a first down near midfield then completed a short pass before disaster almost struck. Thompson scrambled to his right and led his receiver too far but the Wolverines defender sliding attempt at the six hit the ground and the senior gunslinger made them pay.

On fourth down he scrambled up to the 16-yard line for a first down and a timeout.  On the very next play, he used his legs to scramble right before spotting Wheeler at the 10-yard line where he delivered the short pass. Wheeler then made a Wolverine defender miss at the eight and was met at the goal line. The bowling ball running back refused to be denied as he went over the top of the tackler and stretched the ball out for the score.

One last gasp from the Wolverines left Warriors fans nervous before jubilation took over. Jaramillo took the ball at the Wolverine 26 with three seconds remaining and found no one open so he took off around left end. The speedy spread back then went completely across the field to the near sideline before reversing course deep in Warrior territory and began sprinting back to the far sideline. That’s when Jaramillo thought he saw daylight and surged forward before two Miami defenders downed him at the eight and sealed the victory for the purple clad Warriors.

Thompson was outstanding as he finished 15-of-26 through the air for 244 yards and six scores while rushing for another 100 yards. Just as effective on defense, he had 21 tackles, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Wheeler was the beneficiary of seven of those passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns while racking up 13 tackles on the defensive side and grabbing two fumble recoveries.

Silverton falls short 

In a Class 1A Division II regional semifinal, Silverton saw Balmorhea race out to an early lead before putting away the Owls away 78-43. The Owls end a superb year at 9-3.


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