No. 2 Kilgore Holds Off Upset-Minded Kaufman, 21-14, to Stay Alive in the Playoffs
TYLER -- The underdog Kaufman Lions made big play after big play to stay close with the No. 2 Kilgore Bulldogs.
But Kilgore's Benny Colbert made the biggest play of all.
The senior quarterback moved to cornerback for the final series and his pass deflection on fourth down lifted Kilgore, 21-14, over a pesky Kaufman squad in the Class 3A Division I area round at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium on Friday.
"They (Kaufman) were running comeback routes all night," Colbert said. "Then, on fourth-and-long, I had a feeling they were going to run a comeback, but I still had to protect my cushion. He ran the route, I broke on, knocked down the pass, and we left with the 'W.'"
The District 16-3A champion Bulldogs move on to face Frisco Lone Star next Friday at 2 p.m. in Forney.
On a wet and bitter cold night, Kilgore's Kevrin Justice was plenty warm. The junior running back totaled 228 yards and two touchdowns, none bigger than with 3:28 remaining in the first half. Justice fielded a punt at the Kilgore 38, cut back across field and took the ball 62 yards to the house to break a 7-7 tie and give the Bulldogs momentum heading into halftime.
Kilgore opened the fourth quarter with a six-play, 93-yard drive, punctuated by a Daveionta "Juju" Brown 34-yard touchdown run at the 9:30 mark, and the Bulldogs looked to be in complete control.
But Kaufman (8-4) wouldn't quit.
The Lions answered with a seven-play, 80-yard march in less than three minutes when Clay Rhodes hit Josh Ramirez in the back of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown, making it a one possession game at 21-14.
After a Kilgore three-and-out, Kaufman had their chance. Nine plays and 40 yards later, Colbert's break-up sealed it.
Colbert tallied 148 total yards -- 71 in the air, 77 on the ground -- as Kilgore finished with 370 yards of total offense.
Rhodes finished 9-of-20 for 134 yards passing and one scoring toss, while he and Laxavier Battee combined for 135 yards on the ground.
Kaufman started the scoring with a 16-play, 92-yard opening drive, culminating in a Jacob Holley 1-yard plunge at the 3:41 mark of the first. On that drive, Kaufman converted a third down off a fumbled ball that was scooped up 12 yards downfield, and had a punt blocked, where the punter recovered the batted ball and gained 15 yards from it.
The game also witnessed seven pass break-ups for the Kilgore defense, four of which were caught by Kaufman receivers for first down conversions.
"This was definitely a eye-opener," Colbert said. "Records don't mean anything in the playoffs. Kaufman came out and fought us hard to the end."