FORNEY -- Mineola had executed 55 plays and yielded 290 yards. Only nine of those yards came through the air, on one completion nonetheless.

But time was running out in regulation after Pilot Point tied Saturday's Class 3A Division I, Region II semifinal playoff game with a two-point conversion at 27-27 and 1:21 left on the clock.

Two more running plays put the Yellowjackets at their own 40-yard line with less than 60 seconds to go. Pass No. 8 and completion No. 2 pushed Mineola past the Bearcats and into the month of December.

Brent Wells ran a short slant route and, with blockers in front of him, turned Jeremiah Crawford's dink pass into 60-yard score to give the Yellowjackets a 34-27 win.

"It was just our laser screen," Mineola head coach Joe Drennon said amidst chaos on the field at Forney's City Bank Stadium. "You see it on Saturday afternoons all the time. We just throw it out there, linemen pull out of there and get their blocks. Brent made the catch, split two tackles and went however far it was."

Brent Wells reached the end zone to give Mineola a 34-27 lead with just 41 seconds remaining in Saturday's Class 3A Division I regional semifinal playoff game at Forney's CIty Bank Stadium. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Wells crossed the goal line with 41 seconds left.

Mineola's defense had to go out there one more time and seal the victory against a Pilot Point offense that erased a 27-12 deficit with two fourth quarter scores.

The Bearcats (10-3) made it all the way to the Yellowjackets' 25-yard line, but a pass thrown just out of the reach of running back DaCoven Bailey with five seconds to play and a followup chunk blocked by a mass of humanity at the front of the end zone fell safely incomplete at the goal line with no time remaining.

"It feels great," Crawford, one of six players around the vicinity of the last-ditch throw, said. "We beat the ball down. In that final minute, and the whole game really, it was the team the whole way."

Late November brings havoc to Texas high school playoff games, especially day games. A south wind battered cars all the way from Mineola and was still a major force after the game concluded.

City Bank Stadium, like most fields on all levels of football, is oriented north-to-south. Kicking into the wind, demonstrated by a Mineola punt for zero net yards, was fruitless.

Pilot Point's first two PAT kick attempts were blocked by a combination of a strong Mineola attack, low kicks and the wind's refusal to allow the ball to lift from such a short distance.

Throwing the ball was as difficult. Passes against the wind were unpredictable and throws with the wind sailed on receivers all game long.

Good thing the Yellowjackets (10-3) are a run-oriented team.

Mineola quarterback Jeremiah Crawford meets the teeth of Pilot Point's defense. Crawford finished the game with 182 rushing yards and another 69 yards through the air. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Save a Noah Sneed reception for nine yards and Wells' improbable score, only Crawford and running back Chantz Perkins touched the ball for the winning side.

Perkins carried 24 times for 114 yards and three scores. Crawford had 182 yards and a 22-yard touchdown run on his 26 touches.

Pilot Point technically did more through the air, 198 yards, but most of its throws prior to late in the fourth quarter were tosses to Bailey in motion. Quarterback Travis Garrett tossed the ball like a hot potato to Bailey as he passed by for what were effectively run sweeps.

"You could tell when each team had the ball and had the wind, it was a big factor," Drennon said. "We could each move the ball on the others. This wind, I don't know what it was up to, but it's 40 to 50 miles per hour, it feels like."

Mineola got the ball to start to the game and had to work against the wind. The Yellowjackets got the only three first downs of the first quarter but punted twice and turned the ball over on downs at the Pilot Point 25-yard line rather than attempt a field goal in its first three posessions.

Pilot Point's quarterback fumbled on the first play of the second quarter, however, and it was recovered by Mineola linebacker Michael Drennon at his own 40-yard line.

Mineola running back Chantz Perkins tries to keep Pilot Point's Jaron Wilson at bay on a four-yard carry in the second quarter of Saturday's Class 3A Division I regional semifinal playoff game. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

The Yellowjackets used that turnover to start a 60-yard scoring drive. Perkins put the first points on the board with a 22-yard run.

Mineola and Pilot Point traded touchdowns from there. Bailey scored with a 4-yard run for the Bearcats, Crawford ran in another 22-yard score for the Yellowjackets and Bailey turned a jump pass into a 61-yard score.

The two Pilot Point missed kicks after scores and a failed Mineola two-point conversion after an offsides penalty on a kick attempt gave the Yellowjackets a 13-12 advantage at the break.

With the wind at their backs in the third quarter, Crawford and Perkins continued to thrive.

Perkins opened the lead to 20-12 with a 6-yard run.

Two plays later, Pilot Point threw a pass the wind caught long enough for Aaron Stanford to pick off and return to the Bearcats' 6-yard line. A celebration penalty backed the Yellowjackets to the 12, but Perkins had his team celebrating in the end zone four plays later on a 1-yard carry.

Mineola defensive lineman Trevor Keener and linebacker Jaun Vargas, two of East Texas' leading tackles for loss players, combine to take down Pilot Point quarterback Travis Garrett on the final drive of the game. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Mineola led 27-12 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Bailey cut the lead to 27-19 with a 4-yard score to cap a 13-play, 75-yard drive with 7:55 to play. It was here Pilot Point converted its first kick after a touchdown.

The Yellowjackets hoped to put a big dent in the clock, and they did burn about three minutes, but Perkins fumbled at midfield and Hunter Balderas' return set Pilot Point up at the Mineola 46 with 4:31 to play.

With 1:21 left, Bailey punched it in from five yards out for a 27-25 deficit. After a timeout to discuss the pivotal two-point conversion play, Garrett found Jacob David in the middle of the end zone on a short pass.

Wind aided Pilot Point's kickoff through the back of the end zone.

Perkins gained eight yards on a pitch and then seven on a run to set up first-and-10 at the 40 with less than a minute to play. The rest is history.

"Coach said I'm fast, so if I got past them just go," Wells said. "I have a lot of tingling sensations right now. I can't really describe the feeling."

Joe Drennon had some interesting things to say to his team immediately following the win. Something about a ring.

The Yellowjackets will play Pottsboro for the Region II crown and a beth into the Class 3A Division I state semifinals at 2 p.m. Saturday inside Royse City ISD Stadium.

"We've been thinking about this ever since we've started," the head coach said. "I'm not lying about it. We want one so bad in Mineola we can't stand it."

 

Mineola's Cameron Sorenson (15), Aaron Standford (1) and Jeremiah Crawford battle Pilot Point's Clayton Williams and DaCoven Bailey for positioning as quarterback Travis Garrett's last-second throw approaches the end zone. Stanford and Crawford got the pass breakup. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Mineola 34, Pilot Point 27

Class 3A Division I
Region II Semifinals
At City Bank Stadium, Forney

Mineola                      0    13      14     7    --     34
Pilot Point                  0    12        0     15    --   27

Second Quarter
MIN--Chantz Perkins 22 run (Willie Tinajero kick), 8:27
PP--DaCoven Bailey 4 run (kick blocked), 3:58
MIN--Jeremiah Crawford 22 run (conversion failed), 1:46
PP--Bailey 61 pass from Travis Garrett (PAT blocked), :36
Third Quarter
MIN--Perkins 6 run (Tinajero kick), 3:12
MIN--Perkins 1 run (Tinajero kick), :14
Fourth Quarter
PP--Bailey 4 run (Ramiro Mendoza kick), 7:25
PP--Bailey 5 run (Jacob Davis pass from Garrett), 1:21
MIN--Brent Wells 60 pass from Crawford (Tinajero kick), :41

 

                                          MIN                  PP

First Downs                     16                    17
Total Yards                      365                  353
Rushes-Yards                  50-296            29-155
Passing Yards                  69                  198
Comp.-Att.-Int.                2-8-0               13-20-0
Punts-Avg.                       2-11.5             2-29.5
Fumbles-Lost                   2-1                  3-1
Penalties-Yards                4-31                6-26

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING--Mineola, Jeremiah Crawford 26-182, Chantz Perkins 24-114. Pilot Point, Travis Garrett 16-130, DaCoven Bailey 12-29, TEAM 1-(-4).
PASSING--Mineola, Crawford 2-8-0--69. Pilot Point, Garrett 18-24-1--198.
RECEIVING--Mineola, Brent Wells 1-60, Sneed 1-9. Pilot Point, Bailey 10-158, RyLee Hellman 6-45, Creed Bright 1-7, Jacob David 1-2.