[By Anthony Hawthorne, Special to ETSN.fm]

LONGVIEW -- Different week, same story.

The Elysian Fields Yellow Jackets once again got revenge, this time against district rival Hughes Springs in a come-from-behind 21-14 victory to advance to the Class 2A Division II state semifinals.

Taking over at their own 22-yard line with just 3:18 remaining and facing a 14-13 deficit, the Yellow Jackets relied on senior QB Trevor Spear. Once again he came through.

Elysian Fields linebacker Tanner Norman celebrates the Jackets' 21-14 comeback win over Hughes Springs in Saturday's Class 2A Division II Region III final at Longview's Lobo Stadium. (Jeff Stapleton, ETSN.fm)

The Jackets moved the ball 78 yards in three plays with Spear having a hand in all three.  Spear hit Nathan Hall for 29 yards past midfield, gained 15 yards on a rollout, then found Hall once again across the middle, dragging a tackler across the goal line for a 49-yard strike to put the Jackets in front. Spear tacked on the two-point conversion to make it 21-14 with 2:36 remaining.

"We believed," said EF coach Eric King of the game-winning drive. "We practice that every day in practice. The kids are like, 'Why are we doing this?,' and sure enough it pays off now. Trevor's a leader. So is Nathan Hall, Zane Barge, Christian Smith, Lonzo Macon, the whole senior class. They did a great job for us."

Hughes Springs (12-1) used a Chad McKinney 36-yard kickoff return to start at its own 44-yard line.

Two incompletions and a sack by Clay Vance set up a fourth-and-16 pass that fell incomplete, but a late hit on QB Trenton Shelton gave the Mustangs new life. After a third-down completion was called back because of an illegal touch, the Mustangs faced fourth-and-12. Shelton rolled out and found a receiver behind the defense, but the ball dropped incomplete after the receiver got turned around. The Jackets were able to drain the final 67 seconds from the clock in the victory formation.

The Yellow Jackets (11-3) advance to play East Bernard, a 54-23 winner over defending state champion Refugio, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Baylor’s Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco.

Spear finished 7 of 13 for 214 yards, with two TDs and two INTs, while rushing for 85 yards on 11 carries. He had 198 of his total yards after the break, when the Jackets began moving the ball efficiently. Hall was the main beneficiary of Spear’s passes, catching five for 189 yards and both scores.

"The final drive was crazy," Spear said. "I knew Nate could beat the inside dude and he made an amazing catch and ran for a touchdown."

Trailing 14-0 with 1:25 remaining before halftime, the Jackets began to make a charge, swinging momentum in the process. Spear rolled out and sent a pass through the hands of T.J. Clark over the middle, but Hall was there five yards behind Clark to snag the pass in stride near the Hughes Springs 40-yard line, where he bounced outside, got a block, and scored on a 62-yard touchdown to cut the Mustang lead in half.

Before that play, EF had gained 40 total yards.

"We pressed too much in the first half on offense. We got a lucky break at the end of the half," King said. "We came back and settled down a little bit. We kept running the ball and worked the pass here and there. Just a good game plan. Sean Struwe does a great job calling plays for us. Super coach."

The Mustangs controlled the first half. They took the opening possession 71 yards in ten plays, the first nine coming on the ground. Bernard then hit Zach Bassham on a play-action for a 31-yard score and a 7-0 lead.

Hughes Springs' Chad McKinney fights off Elysian Fields' Tanner Norman for a first down during the Jackets' 21-14 win in Saturday's Class 2A Division II Region III final at Longview's Lobo Stadium. (Jeff Stapleton, ETSN.fm)

Dustin Garamillo added a 29-yard touchdown run with a minute and a half left in the first half for a 14-0 lead.

The Jackets' defense came alive in the second half, allowing the Jacket offense to get rolling. Vance, Don Deramus, and Braden Jett led a defensive line supported by linebackers Bruce Woods and Tanner Norman that contained Hughes Springs' running game, yielding only 3.9 yards per carry on 57 Mustang rushes.

Garamillo gained 70 yards on his first nine carries, but EF held him to 39 yards on his final eight carries. Michael Martinez, Hughes Springs' leading rusher, was held to 89 yards on 26 carries. He ran for 220 yards and two touchdowns in the Mustangs' October blowout of Elysian Fields.

The Jackets' front-line leverage made running difficult the entire second half.

"All year we haven't really played low, which is not what you really need from your D-line," Vance said. "This week we just played low and played with discipline. We just came out and did our thing. We've played together for years and this is what we've dreamed of."

The second half’s opening drive lasted only four plays, all on the ground, with Spears scoring from 16 yards out on a broken play as he kept the zone-read handoff late, broke several tackles, and reversed field to find the end zone. The extra point was no good, leaving the score 14-13 a minute and a half into the third.

A stout effort up front by the Jacket defensive front forced two punts, then came up with a huge stop. A 21-play Mustang drive that started at its own 8-yard line advanced to the Jacket 23-yard line, taking up over ten minutes of clock, but a fourth-and-17 pass was broken up, setting up the Jackets' final drive.

"We just played hard and the kids believed in the plan we had," King said of his defense. "Brandon Johnson, our DC (defensive coordinator), did a super job. The game plan was awesome. He's done a great job all year. He's a young coach and the kids just believe in what we're doing, and they just fought through the whole time. Just a super job all around."

McKinney had two interceptions, the second of which came at his own goal line to help Hughes Springs cling to a 14-13 lead in the second half.


Hughes Springs' Dustin Garamillo runs the ball during the Mustangs' 21-14 loss to Elysian Fields in Saturday's 2A Division I Region III final at Longview's Lobo Stadium. (Jeff Stapleton, ETSN.fm)


Class 2A Division II Region III

Elysian Fields 21, Hughes Springs 14

Lobo Stadium, Longview

Hughes Springs -- 7 7 0 0 -- 14
Elysian Fields -- 0 7 6 8 -- 21

First quarter
HS -- Zach Bassham 31 pass from Trenton Shelton (Chad McKinney kick) -- 7:05
Second quarter
HS -- Dustin Garamillo 29 run (McKinney kick) -- 1:25
EF -- Nathan Hall 62 pass from Trevor Spear (Hall kick) -- 0:31
Third quarter
EF -- Spear 16 run (kick failed) -- 10:36
Fourth quarter
EF -- Hall 49 pass from Spear (Spear run) -- 2:36

                                      HS                      EF
First downs                    19                       13
Total yards                    304                     317
Rushes-Yards             57-220               24-107
Pass yards                      84                      210
Comp.-Att.-Int.             4-17-0               7-13-2
Penalties-Yards              5-37                   6-65
Fumbles-Lost                  0-0                     1-1
Punts-Avg.                     5-29.6                3-34.3

Rushing -- Hughes Springs: Dustin Garamillo 17-109, Michael Martinez 26-89, Chad McKinney 3-13, Kane Sampson 4-12, Trenton Shelton 6-(-2), TEAM 1-(-1). Elysian Fields: Trevor Spear 11-85, Tanner Davis 4-16, Colby Simmons 2-14, Christian Smith 1-3, Lonzo Macon 1-1, Nathan Hall 1-0, T.J. Clark 1-(-3), TEAM 3-(-9).
Passing -- Hughes Springs: Trenton Shelton 4-16-0 84, Dustin Garamillo 0-1-0 0. Elysian Fields: Trevor Spear 7-13-2 214.
Receiving -- Hughes Springs: Zach Bassham 1-31, Eric Berryhill 1-26, Dustin Garamillo  1-18, Chad McKinney 1-9. Elysian Fields: Nathan Hall 5-189, T.J. Clark 1-14, Tanner Davis 1-7.