Kevrin Justice Scores Four Times to Lead No. 3 Kilgore Past Chapel Hill, 42-25
KILGORE — Third-ranked Kilgore built a 19-point lead through three quarters thanks to a strong rushing attack, then withstood a late Chapel Hill rally for a 42-25 District 16-3A victory Friday night at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium.
Kilgore junior tailback Kevrin Justice ran 24 times for 189 yards and four touchdowns, two of which came in the fourth quarter. His 26-yard touchdown with 8:02 left gave Kilgore a 35-17 lead, then his six-yarder with 1:37 remaining iced the game and secured the 17-point victory margin.
The win clinched a playoff berth for Kilgore, which improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in 16-3A. The victory all but secured the district’s No. 1 Division I playoff seed for the Bulldogs, who amassed 398 total yards, 308 of which came on the ground.
Kilgore head coach Mike Wood liked what he saw from his offensive line, which won the point of attack against a big, talented, and physical Chapel Hill front.
“They’re so talented in their defensive front. We were looking at ways we could possibly run the football. We didn’t want to come into a ball game and have to throw it,” Wood said. “We did a good job mixing up the runs and mixing up our formations and things and not just lining up in the I all night and trying to change things up a little bit. Like I said, that’s one of the best defensive fronts we’ll see.”
Kilgore has a salty defensive front of its own.
That front seven held Chapel Hill (5-4, 3-2), which entered the game averaging 322.0 rushing yards, to 56 rushing yards on 22 attempts.
But Chapel Hill got a huge game from senior quarterback Andrew Black, who threw the ball about as well as you could expect against one of the best Class 3A defenses in the state. Black completed 18 of 28 passes for a season-high 352 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to senior receiver Gabriel Robinson, who delivered nine receptions for 219 yards.
Kilgore boosted a 21-9 halftime lead to 19 points when senior quarterback Benny Colbert, who returned after missing a few games with a hamstring injury, hit senior Joseph Shepherd on a 31-yard timing-route touchdown late in the third.
Chapel Hill fought back in the fourth thanks to Black’s 13-yard touchdown strike to Lex Heckel and two-point throw to Robinson. Kilgore led 35-17 on Justice’s 26-yarder, but Black answered again with an impressive 53-yard catch-and-run touchdown by junior Jeffery Minor with 7:04 remaining. Another two-point throw to Robinson cut Kilgore’s lead to 35-25.
Chapel Hill then recovered an onside kick, but three incompletions and a deadball personal foul penalty sabotaged Chapel Hill’s chances of cutting the lead to single digits. Aaron Foy, who caught a 54-yard first-quarter touchdown for the game’s first score, returned the ensuing punt 22 yards to the Chapel Hill 45-yard line, setting up Kilgore’s game-sealing, 10-play, 45-yard drive capped by Justice’s six-yard touchdown with 97 seconds remaining.
Except for the onside kick and a couple of field-goal mishaps, Kilgore’s special teams helped KHS stay on top of the special teams battle, which resulted in a distinct field-position advantage the entire night.
Kilgore’s average starting field position was its own 47-yard line, compared to Chapel Hill’s average start of its own 22-yard line. Kilgore sophomore kicker Christian Galvan successfully angled deep kickoffs toward the sideline inside the 5-yard line, forcing Chapel Hill return men to run horizontally trying to find lanes. Kilgore’s coverage excelled plugging any potential return lanes, resulting in Chapel Hill starting inside its own 20-yard line five times, including three starts inside the 15.
“Christian did a good job putting the ball where we wanted to. Try to get them pinned inside. They’re an explosive offense and (we wanted) try to back them up and get them out of their game a little bit, hopefully,” Wood said. “You can see they can throw the football and score in a hurry, and they did in the second half at times. That’s a good football team we played right there. That’s definitely a playoff-caliber football team. It was interesting to see how our kids would react when somebody came out and made us play a four-quarter football game. They came out in the second half and played well, but we did what it took to get a win.”
Senior tailback JuJu Brown complemented Justice’s rushing performance with 69 yards on nine carries. Colbert finished 3-for-5 for 90 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing 16 times for 57 yards.
Kilgore built a 14-0 first-quarter lead on the 54-yard strike to Foy and a two-yard Justice touchdown run. Chapel Hill cut the lead to 14-6 on a 71-yard touchdown pass from Black to Robinson early in the second before Kilgore stretched its edge to 21-6 on a bruising 20-yard Justice run. Chapel Hill sophomore kicker Austin Fendrick capped a long drive late in the second with a 25-yard field goal for a 21-9 deficit entering halftime.
Chapel Hill, which is still in good shape to clinch a Division I playoff spot, hosts Gladewater next week. Kilgore visits Henderson before facing Gilmer on Nov. 8 in what will likely be the 16-3A championship game.
No. 3 Kilgore, Chapel Hill
R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium, Kilgore
Chapel Hill — 0 9 0 16 — 25
Kilgore — 14 7 7 14 — 42
KIL — Aaron Foy pass from Benny Colbert (Christian Galvan kick) — 9:33
KIL — Kevrin Justice 2 run (Galvan kick) — 1:14
CH — Gabriel Robinson 71 pass from Andrew Black (kick failed) — 9:05
KIL — Justice 20 run (Galvan kick) — 5:40
CH — Austin Fendrick 25 field goal — 0:21
KIL — Joseph Shepherd 31 pass from Colbert (Galvan kick) — 3:02
CH — Lex Heckel 13 pass from Black (Robinson pass) — 10:03
KIL — Justice 26 run (Galvan kick) — 8:02
CH — Jeffery Minor 53 pass from Black (Robinson pass) — 7:04
KIL — Justice 6 run (Galvan kick) — 1:37
First downs 15 20
Total yards 408 398
Rushes-Yards 22-56 52-308
Pass yards 352 90
Comp.-Att.-Int. 18-29-1 3-5-0
Penalties-Yards 3-20 6-45
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 2-0
Punts-Avg. 4-39.5 1-23.0
RUSHING — Chapel Hill: Andrew Black 12-25, Wesley Thompson 4-17, Ja’Braylon Franklin 3-9, Jesse Mumphrey 3-5. Kilgore: Kevrin Justice 24-189, JuJu Brown 9-69, Benny Colbert 16-57, TEAM 3-(-7).
PASSING — Chapel Hill: Andrew Black 18-28-0 352, Gabriel Robinson 0-1-1 0. Kilgore: Benny Colbert 3-5-0 90.
RECEIVING — Chapel Hill: Gabriel Robinson 9-219, Jeffery Minor 4-81, Lex Heckel 2-28, Blake Mayfield 2-26, Jesse Mumphrey 1-(-2). Kilgore: Joseph Shepherd 2-36, Gabriel Robinson 1-54.