Chapel Hill Offense Erupts In Bi-District Playoff Win Over Huffman Hargrave
LUFKIN -- Chapel Hill junior quarterback Konnor Hitchcock was forced to sit out his team's regular-season finale last week because of a concussion. That time off may have been a blessing in disguise.
Hitchcock spear-headed an offense that rolled up 634 yards in Chapel Hill's 57-43 win over Huffman Hargrave in their Class 4A Division I Region III bi-district playoff Saturday afternoon at Abe Martin Stadium.
Chapel Hill (6-5) will face top-ranked Navasota (11-0) in the area round. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday night at Conroe's Buddy Moorhead Stadium.
Hitchcock completed 15 of 21 passes for a season-high 336 yards and four touchdowns -- all coming from 28 yards or further.
"We had a lot of big plays early on," Hitchcock said. "They bring a lot of pressure and we had some audibles called to where I could check it down to a back or an outside receiver, and get them out of all that pressure that was coming up the middle. We were able to make some really big plays off that. Later in the second half the receivers did a real good job of adjusting their routes if I had to scramble."
Hitchcock showed no ill-effects from the concussion two weeks ago against Henderson.
"In a way it was beneficial," Hitchcock said. "I got to check up on all my plays and I could learn the offense even better than I had. It was really good for me learning-wise. I got a head start on their defense and everything else."
Senior receiver Jeffery Minor caught four passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns, Zack Walters had three catches for 36 yards and a score, and Deundre Phillips hauled in four receptions for 77 yards.
Chapel Hill's running back tandem of senior Michael Bledsoe and junior Ja'Braylon Franklin also performed well offensively for the Bulldogs. Bledsoe ran for a team-high 172 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries, while Franklin added 111 yards and a touchdown on the ground and caught three passes for 95 yards and a score.
"We were really nervous coming into the game about them; they like to bring a lot of pressure," said Chapel Hill coach Thomas Sitton of Huffman Hargrave (9-2). "Our offensive linemen never get their name in the paper, but they've done a tremendous job this year, and we're so proud of them. They did a great job run-blocking tonight and did a great job in the passing game also."
Chapel Hill's defense surrendered 29 first downs and 560 yards of offense, but helped its cause by forcing five turnovers -- three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. The Bulldogs scored 20 points off three first-half turnovers, and added 15 points off turnovers in the second half.
"They're a good offense, they throw the ball as well as about anybody around," Sitton said. "I was disappointed they were able to run as well as they did. But we've got some guys over there on the defensive side of the ball that just kept fighting and kept working, finding ways to get the football back into the offense's hands. We took our lumps here and there, but they kept fighting and they kept battling."
Falcons quarterback Cody Gaitan completed 25 of 41 passes for 313 yards with two touchdowns and the three picks. Sophomore receiver Dylan Lorfing caught 14 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown, and threw an 18-yard touchdown late in the first half. Huffman Hargrave running back Cesar Marroquin rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
Hitchcock's 58-yard touchdown pass to Minor and Reggie King's run for the two-point conversion gave Chapel Hill a 50-37 lead with 8:37 remaining. Then, Huffman Hargrave responded with a 10-play, 66-yard scoring drive that ended with Marroquin's 16-yard run, which cut the deficit to 50-43 with 5:12 to play.
The Falcons' ensuing kick fell in the middle of a hole in the Chapel Hill return team, and Huffman Hargrave recovered the loose ball at the Bulldogs' 32. But on the first play, Lorfing caught a 12-yard pass across the middle, but was stripped by Chapel Hill, which recovered at its own 20.
Bledsoe's 40-yard touchdown run, which was set up by a key 17-yard completion from Hitchcock to King on third-and-7, with 1:36 remaining put the game out of reach.
Huffman Hargrave scored on its opening drive of the game. The Falcons gained 44 yards on the first play from scrimmage on a receiver pass from Chase Harrell to Lorfing. Harrell was on the receiving end of an 11-yard touchdown pass from Gaitan four plays later for a 7-0 Falcons lead.
Chapel Hill then reeled off 26 consecutive points, beginning with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Hitchcock to Walters. Kris Davis recovered a Falcons fumble on the next series, and Chapel Hill went 36 yards in eight plays, scoring on a Bledsoe 10-yard run for a 12-7 lead with 2:50 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Bulldogs' Kenyotta Henderson intercepted Gaitain at the Chapel Hill 7 on Huffman Hargrave's next possession, and on second down, Hitchcock hit Franklin in the flat, and the junior running back raced 88 yards to the end zone. King's two-point conversion gave the Bulldogs a 20-7 lead just seconds into the second quarter.
Deundre Phillips intercepted Gaitain on the ensuing series and returned the ball 39 yards to the Huffman-Hargrave 40. And on first down, Hitchcock went deep to a wide-open Minor, which put the Bulldogs in front, 26-7, with 9:28 to go in the half.
The Falcons, however, responded by scoring on their final three possessions of the first half to take a 28-26 lead at halftime. Marroquin rushed for a 13-yard touchdown, Harrell took a jet sweep 17 yards for a score, and Lorfing fired an 14-yard touchdown to Lane Shively with seven seconds remaining.
"We had a wake-up call," Hitchcock said. "We kinda got comfortable with our lead in the first half, and we can't afford to do that because this is win or go home. We're either all in or all out."
Chapel HIll scored on its opening drive of the third quarter -- a Bledsoe 14-yard run -- and Huffman Hargrave was held to a 27-yard field goal by Cade Cotter as Chapel Hill entered the fourth quarter with a 34-31 lead.
After a Johntaveon Martin interception late in the third, Chapel HIll extended its lead on Franklin's 33-yard touchdown run just seven seconds into the fourth. Hitchock's two-point pass to Walters gave the Bulldogs a 42-31 cushion.
Gaitan connected with Lorfing for a 22-yard score on the Falcons' next drive, cutting the Chapel Hill lead to 42-37.
Chapel Hill 57, Huffman Hargrave 43
Class 4A Division I
Region III Bi-District Playoff
At Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin
Huffman Hargrave 7 21 3 12 -- 43
Chapel HIll 12 14 8 23 -- 57
HH--Chase Harrell 11 pass from Cody Gaitan (Caden Cotter kick), 10:41.
CH--Zack Walters 28 pass from Konnor Hitchcock (kick failed), 8:16.
CH--Michael Bledsoe 10 run (kick failed), 2:50.
CH--Ja'Braylon Franklin 88 pass from Hitchcock (Reggie King run), 11:04.
CH--Jeffery Minor 40 pass from Hitchcock (run failed), 9:28.
HH--Cesar Marroquin 13 run (Cotter kick), 7:36.
HH--Harrell 17 run (Cotter kick), 3:05.
HH--Lane Shively 14 pass from Gaitan (Cotter kick), :07.
CH--Bledsoe 14 run (Walters pass from Hitchcock), 9:40.
HH-FG Cotter 27, 6:25.
CH--Franklin 33 run (Walters pass from Hitchcock), 11:53.
HH--Dylan Lorfing 22 pass from Gaitan (pass failed), 9:34.
CH--Minor 58 pass from Hitchcock (King run), 8:37.
HH--Marroquin 16 run (Cotter kick), 5:12.
CH--Bledsoe 40 run (Kristian Montelongo kick), 1:36.
First Downs 29 22
Total Yards 560 634
Rushes-Yards 30-189 45-298
Passing Yards 371 336
Comp.-Att.-Int. 27-43-3 15-21-0
Punts-Avg. 1-38.0 4-34.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 10-91 17-136
RUSHING--Huffman Hargrave, Cesar Marroquin 21-158, Chase Harrell 5-46, Blake Daniels 1-6, Dylan Lorfing 1-(-5), Cody Gaitan 2-(-16). Chapel Hill, Michael Bledsoe 18-172, Ja'Braylon Franklin 14-111, Konnor Hitchcock 6-6, Reggie King 4-6, Delenis Garrett 1-4, Johntaveon Martin 1-4, Jeffery Minor 1-(-5).
PASSING--Huffman Hargrave, Gaitan 25-41-2--313, Harrell 1-1-0--44, Lorfing 1-1-0--14. Chapel Hill, Hitchcock 15-21-0--336.
RECEIVING--Huffman Hargrave, Lorfing 14-227, Lane Shively 7-67, Harrell 4-54, Richard Marches 2-23. Chapel Hill, Minor 4-111, Deundre Phillips 4-77, Franklin 3-95, Zack Walters 3-36, King 1-17.