Games of 2012, No. 10: Elysian Fields 21, Hughes Springs 14
After Hughes Springs' 55-14 regular-season win over Elysian Fields, it was hard to imagine back on Oct. 26 that EF would even make it far enough in the playoffs for a rematch.
Not only did it happen, but the second encounter -- a 21-14 Elysian Fields win in the Class 2A Division II Region III championship -- became an instant classic. It checks in at No. 10 on our countdown of the top high school football games of 2012.
Setting the stage: Hughes Springs entered this game state-ranked, unbeaten and unchallenged, for the most part. The Mustangs survived an OT thriller with fellow state-ranked an unblemished Centerville the week before, but before that, the Mustangs had beaten their foes by an average score of 49-10. That included their regular-season matchup with Elysian Fields in which Hughes Springs thoroughly dominated, leaving many wondering how the rematch would be any different. Elysian Fields, however, entered the game with confidence after a avenging another ugly regular-season loss to Arp. Despite that and the fact that the Jackets had not lost since the Hughes Springs game, few were giving EF a chance in this one.
First impressions: For most of the first half, EF's doubters were given credence. The Jackets couldn't get anything going on offense, and the while the defense was playing better than it had in the first meeting, Elysian Fields was facing a 14-0 deficit with just 1:25 remaining in the first half after a Dustin Garamillo 29-yard touchdown run. At that point, Elysian Fields had just 40 total yards of offense.
In the moment: Elysian Fields coach Eric King later admitted that after Garamillo's touchdown he just wanted to get to halftime. But he was persuaded by offensive coordinator Sean Struwe to take one shot down the field, and what followed changed the entire complexion of the game. Jackets quarterback Trevor Spear rolled out and spotted T.J. Clark down the middle of the field. However, the ball slipped through Clark's hands, but fortunately for EF, teammate Nathan Hall was trailing the play and made the catch. Hall bounced to the edge, got one key downfield block and outraced Hughes Springs for a 62-yard touchdown with 31 seconds left in the half. Not only had EF sliced the Mustangs' lead in half, all the momentum belonged to the boys in orange. Elysian Fields wasted little time in the third quarter, building off the big play with Spear's 16-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the third quarter. While a missed extra point kept Hughes Springs in front, 14-13, more and more people in the Lobo Stadium crowd (on both sides) began to sense what was coming. It took a while, but with 2:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, Spear hooked up with Hall once again. This time, Spear spotted Hall down the seam for a 49-yard touchdown pass, punctuated by Hall dragging a Hughes Springs defender across the goal line for the game-winning score. Spear ran in the two-point conversion.
Last impressions: For the second consecutive week, Elysian Fields had avenged a regular-season loss, and the Yellow Jackets were just one win away from their first state championship game since 2007. Elysian Fields' defense held Mustangs leading rusher Michael Martinez to just 89 yards on 26 carries, and shut down a Hughes Springs offense that averaged 47.5 points per game up until then.