Chapel Hill Advances to Regional Championship Showdown With District Rival Kilgore After 55-40 Defeat of Decatur
FORNEY -- Survive and advance. For the Chapel Hill Bulldogs, that's all that matters.
Chapel Hill scored early and often on its way to a 55-40 win over the Decatur Eagles in their Class 3A Division I Region II semifinal at City Bank Stadium on Friday night.
Chapel Hill (9-4) moved on to a rematch with District 16-3A rival Kilgore for the regional championship. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. next Friday from Tyler's Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. Kilgore defeated Chapel Hill 42-25 on Oct. 25.
In a matchup that featured two big-time quarterbacks -- Chapel Hill's Andrew Black and Decatur's Grayson Muehlstein -- the one who protected the ball best moved on to the next round.
Black was the model of consistency and precision, going 21 of 30 passing for 260 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 130 yards and a score on 24 carries. After losing a fumble on the opening drive, Black never gave the ball back to Decatur.
Muehlstein, a TCU commit, totaled 576 yards -- 28-of-41 in the air for 347 yards and 229 rushing yards -- and five touchdowns. But he turned the ball over five times -- three interceptions and one fumble, including two picks inside the red zone that ultimately proved costly.
The Chapel Hill trio of Wesley Thompson, Ja'Braylon Franklin and Jeffery Minor combined for 189 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Receivers Lex Heckel and Blake Mayfield teamed for 177 yards and three scores.
Decatur (9-4) wide receiver Cain Lowe produced a game-high 162 yards on 12 catches. Seniors Christian Carrillo and Austin Givens added a combined 135 yards receiving and one touchdown.
Chapel Hill safety Sammy Guzman made the highlight reel. He notched two interceptions and added two tackles for loss for the Bulldogs defense, including driving the nail in the Eagles' coffin with a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown with 2:13 remaining.
Decatur made it interesting late in the fourth. Muehlstein hit Carrillo on a slant at the 5-yard line, but Chapel Hill's Kevone Kennedy stripped the Eagles' WR, allowing Decatur's Gage Frank to recover the ball in the end zone, cutting Chapel Hill's lead to 41-33 with 6:12 to go in the game.
But less than three minutes later, Thompson took his final carry of the night 24 yards to the house, and the Bulldogs never looked back.
Chapel Hill started the scoring with a 27-yard scoring toss from Black to Mayfield before a Minor 20-yard scoring run that gave the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Decatur responded when Muehlstein hit Lowe with an 11-yard touchdown strike at the 9:27 mark of the second.
The teams combined for four touchdowns in the final 3:35 of the first half. Black took a designed draw 9 yards to paydirt, only to be one-upped by Muehlstein going 85 yards virtually untouched down the Decatur sideline for a score. Less than a minute later, Black hit Mayfield for his second scoring toss of the night, but Decatur responded when Muehlstein connected with Lowe for a 22-yard TD with just under a minute until intermission, leaving Chapel Hill ahead 28-20 at the half.
Late in the third quarter, Decatur got as close as two when Muehlstein hit Lowe, who then threw back across field to an open Muehlstein for a 39-yard touchdown, cutting the Chapel Hill lead to 28-26 with 4:14 remaining in the third.
Chapel Hill answered with a Black-to-Minor 58-yard pitch-and-catch touchdown on a perfectly thrown fade route. After a Mikey McCollister interception of Muehlstein, Black connected with Heckel on a 26-yard score, which extended Chapel Hill's lead to 41-26 with 9:41 remaining.