Botched Two-Point Conversion Attempt Dooms Tenaha in 36-34 State Semifinal Loss to Falls City
WACO -- It just wasn't Tenaha's night.
Falls City thwarted a potential game-tying, two-point conversion attempt late in the fourth quarter to take down Tenaha, 36-34, Friday night at Waco ISD Stadium in their Class A Division II state semifinal.
Tenaha (11-2) was denied its third consecutive state finals appearance when Chavis Gregory picked up a low snap on the conversion attempt, and under heavy duress, fired a desperation pass that fell incomplete in the end zone with 2:12 remaining. That came after J.R. Hill's 30-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Thomas on third down, and after Tenaha was forced to call back-to-back timeouts prior to the attempt.
"The first time, we lined up in the (swinging gate) … saw what (Falls City) was doing and called a timeout," said Tenaha coach Terry Ward. "So the second time we go back with our offense and didn't have the right personnel, so we had to take a timeout. We had the right play called, but it was a bad snap. The football gods smile on you sometimes and sometimes they don't."
Falls CIty (14-0), the 2010 1A D-II champion, recovered the onside kick attempt, ran out the clock and will play for its second state title at 1 p.m. Thursday from Arlington's AT&T Stadium against either Wellington or Albany.
Tenaha, which won the 2011 state title and finished as runner-up last season, was attempting to become for the first Class A team to reach the state final in three consecutive years since Sonora accomplished the feat from 1969-1971. Tenaha graduates 13 seniors, may of whom were a part of the Tigers' championship team two years ago.
"Ever since I've been here they have sold out and done everything I've asked them to do," Ward said. "I'm so proud of all those seniors, my heart goes out to guys like this."
Falls City senior Justin Twine, who transferred from the East Texas-town of Hemphill during the offseason, stole the show. He rushed for 254 yards and four touchdowns, and completed a pass on the two-point conversion following Dean Guskamp's 24-yard, fourth-quarter score that proved to be the difference in the game.
"I knew the move was going to be kind of difficult for me to adjust to, but a great group of guys and a wonderful community accepted me," said Twine, who has signed to play baseball at TCU and also holds a football offer from Baylor. "I just wanted to come in and do my part to help the team out."
Senior running back and linebacker Chavis Gregory led Tenaha with 211 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. The bruising runner went over 5,000 career rushing yards during the course of Friday night's game, and recorded a sack and forced a fumble on defense.
"I don't even know if I even have the words to explain what he's got," Ward said of Gregory.
Both teams took advantage of special teams miscues in the second half.
Tenaha's Brady Tovar recovered a muffed kickoff return by Falls City's Austen Camber in the end zone, which tied the game at 21-21 with 2:48 remaining in the third quarter. And after Twine's 46-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter evened the game at 28, Camber made amends by falling on a surprise Falls City onside kick attempt at the Tenaha 33.
"Nobody lost confidence in (Camber)," said Falls City coach Steve Marbach. "I chewed his butt a little bit, but really nobody else did. We knew he was going to have to make plays; he is one of our key guys. Being a failure is not making a mistake, but making mistakes over and over. And he won't make that mistake again."
The Beavers took advantage with a 24-yard touchdown run by Gaskamp, who finished with 111 yards on 20 rushing attempts, with 9:25 remaining in the game.
The ensuing drives for both teams failed to yield any points. With Falls City facing a fourth-and-1 at its own 40, the Beavers elected to punt it away instead of trying to pick up the first down and eat more clock. Gregory field the punt inside his own 20 and returned it 51 yards to the Falls City 30 where the Tigers took over with 3:36 remaining.
After consecutive runs for no gain, Hill took the snap and lofted a pass into single coverage down the near sideline where Thomas was able to edge past his defender and haul in the reception for the 30-yard score.
All that was left was Tenaha's two-point conversion attempt.
"We knew coming into this game it was going to be a dogfight," Twine said. "It was going to come down to who had the ball last and who could make the stops when it counts. I'm just so proud of these guys, the offensive and defensive lines played tremendous tonight. I couldn't be happier to be a Beaver and be part of all this."
Twine's 1-yard touchdown run -- his third of the game -- with no time remaining on the first half clock sent Falls City into the locker room with a 21-7 lead. The Beavers not only had the momentum, but would receive the second half's opening kickoff.
Falls City's first drive stalled at the Tenaha 9, and Conner Jendrusch's 26-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide right, leaving the Beavers' lead at 21-7 with 7:09 remaining in the third.
Tenaha turned to Gregory on the ensuing drive. He touched the ball on seven of Tenaha's nine plays, accounting for 73 of the Tigers' 80 yards on a scoring drive that was capped by Gregory's 1-yard run that cut the deficit to 21-14. Camber came up to field a bouncing ball at around his own 20 on the ensuing kickoff, but the ball deflected off his hand, and instead of racing back for it, Tovar alertly recovered the loose ball in the end zone to tie the game at 21-21.
"I was proud of our kids in the second half," Ward said. "They came back and they played hard, and played their hearts out in the second half."
Gaskamp was intercepted by Jacoby Ivy on Falls City's ensuing possession, and Gregory's 18-yard touchdown run as time expired in the third quarter gave Tenaha a 28-21 lead.
"They got all the momentum in the third and it was time to fall apart if we were going to," Marbach said. "If that's what was going to happen it would've happened at the end of the third."
Falls City turned to its Superman.
On the third play of the Beavers' next possession, Twine found daylight around the left side and outraced Tenaha 46 yards to the end zone to tie the game at 28-28 early in the fourth. Camber recovered the onside kick attempt, and on the third play of the drive, Gaskamp squirted free for the go-ahead score that preceded the all-important two-point conversion.
Twine wasn't in on that scoring drive after tweaking a hamstring on his previous touchdown run, but said he was fine after the game. That's good news for Falls CIty, which has one more game left to play.
"Justin Twine is on a whole other planet athletically," Marbach said. "I coached in East Texas -- I was in Timpson for three years, I was in east Fort Worth for three years and I've seen guys go to Nebraska, Michigan, TCU, you name it. Justin's as good an athlete as anybody I've been around. He's unreal."
Twine's 20-yard scoring run capped Falls City's first drive of the night, giving the Beavers a 6-0 lead. Tenaha responded with Gregory's 41-yard touchdown run down the home sideline, and Javier Uribe's extra point gave the Tigers a 7-6 lead at the 7:26 mark of the opening quarter.
Tenaha went three-and-out on its next possession, but drove deep into Falls City territory on its next series. But on fourth-and-10 from the 24, Hill's pass overshot Keontas Davis in the end zone.
Twine worked his magic on the very first play of the ensuing drive. After taking the snap, Twine rolled to his left and quicky found himself surrounded by a host of Tenaha pass rushers. He somehow managed to escape pressure and worked his way across to the other side of the field, turned the corner, cut back in the middle of the field and raced all the way to end zone for a 76-yard touchdown. Gaskamp ran in the two-point conversion and Falls City led 14-7 with 9:53 remaining in the second quarter.
"He was the difference in the game," Ward said of Twine. "He made some plays and we had chances to make plays. But that's football."
No. 4 Falls City 36, No. 3 Tenaha 34
Class A Division II State Semifinal
Waco ISD Stadium
Falls City 6 15 0 15 -- 36
Tenaha 7 0 21 6 -- 34
FC--Justin Twine 20 run (run failed), 9:00.
TEN--Chavis Gregory 41 run (Javier Uribe kick), 7:26.
FC--Twine 76 run (Dean Gaskamp run), 9:53.
FC--Twine 1 run (Conner Jendrusch kick), :00.
TEN--Gregory 1 run (Uribe kick), 2:54.
TEN--Brady Tovar 0 fumble return (Uribe kick), 2:48.
TEN--Gregory 18 run (Uribe kick), :00.
FC--Twine 46 run (Jendrusch kick), 10:56.
FC--Gaskamp 24 run (David Brodsky pass from Twine), 9:25.
TEN--DeAndre Thomas 30 pass from J.R. Hill (pass failed), 2:12.
First Downs 14 13
Total Yards 387 305
Rushes-Yards 43-330 37-236
Passing Yards 57 69
Comp.-Att.-Int. 2-10-1 4-8-0
Punts-Avg. 3-38.3 4-34.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 8-50 9-60
RUSHING--Falls City, Justin Twine 21-254, Dean Gaskamp 20-111, David Brodsky 1-1. Team 1-(-36). Tenaha, Chavis Gregory 28-211, J.R. Hill 7-24, Keontas Davis 1-1, Denzelle Williams 1-0.
PASSING--Falls City, Twine 1-3-0--37, Gaskamp 1-7-1--20. Tenaha, Hill 4-8-0--69.
RECEIVING--Falls City, Gaskamp 1-37, Twine 1-20. Tenaha, DeAndre Thomas 2-53, Davis 2-16.