Mineola Dominates on Both Sides of the Ball to Rout Wall, 50-8, and Reach State Championship
WACO -- Mineola put the "beast" in the "#bEASTtexas" against Wall on Friday night at Waco ISD Stadium. The Yellow Jackets were simply too fast, too big and too physical for Wall to handle.
Jeremiah Crawford and Chantz Perkins combined for seven touchdowns and Mineola's defense dominated Wall in a 50-8 victory, sending the Yellow Jackets to the state championship for the second time in three years.
Mineola (13-2), riding a 13-game win streak, will face Yoakum at 8 p.m. Thursday in the 3A Division I title game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Yoakum beat undefeated East Texas team Malakoff 28-24 on Friday in Austin.
Playing in the Class 3A Division I state semifinals for the third consecutive time, Mineola had the advantage in size, speed and physicality. The Yellow Jackets put up 456 yards of offense -- 401 on the ground -- and their defense held Wall (11-4) to 127 yards of offense and forced five turnovers.
"I'm an East Texas guy and I've been a coach in East Texas all my life, and I'm going to tell you I truly believe in our part of the state. I think we've got some of the best athletes, some of the best kids and some of the most talented kids there are," Mineola coach Joe Drennon said. "The speed is unmatched and it showed tonight."
Quarterback Crawford and running back Perkins were too much for Wall from the beginning. The duo combined for all 401 of Mineola's rushing yards and all seven touchdowns, with Crawford rushing 28 times for 262 yards and four touchdowns and Perkins 23 times for 139 yards and three scores.
Both surpassed the century mark in the first half.
"My offensive line worked their butt off to get here. I told them when I got out here, 'This is all y'all tonight.' I'm going to run behind y'all and get in the lane if you give me one to run through,'" said Crawford, who goes into Week 16 with 2,600 yards and 41 touchdowns rushing on the season. "I give all the credit to my coaches and all the guys who I have on my team."
Defensively, Mineola was just as much, if not more, impressive. Wall didn't cross midfield until late in the second quarter, only to see the drive end with an interception -- one of five turnovers the Hawks had in the game and one of three deep in Mineola territory.
Wall, which boasted five players with at least 600 yards rushing on the season, averaged just 3.3 yards per carry. Ryan Halfmann led the Hawks in rushing with 65 yards on 11 carries.
"Our defense is really good. It seems like we've gotten better each week," Drennon said. "We just like winning, have fun playing together and have fun playing this game. That's really all that matters."
Down 30-0 at halftime, briefly seized momentum early in the second half when Garrett Sanford returned the opening kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown and the Hawks recovered a Mineola fumble on the ensuing drive. But Brock Rosenquist was picked off for the second time on the Mineola 25 and Noah Sneed returned the ball to the Wall 30.
Perkins scored his second touchdown of the game, this one from 2 yards out, six plays later to give Mineola a 37-8 lead.
Wall followed with its best drive of the night, using 13 plays to go 64 yards, but Rosenquist lost the ball on the Mineola 8-yard line.
Crawford was responsible for all 92 of Mineola's yards on the response drive, ending with a 25-yard touchdown run -- his 40th on the ground of the season and 100th of his career -- on second-and-18 to make it 44-8.
Perkins tacked on his third touchdown and the Yellow Jackets' last of the game on Mineola's final drive, which covered 55 yards in 11 plays.
Mineola scored 24 points after Wall turnovers, 10 of which came in the first 5:22 of the first quarter. Crawford opened the game with an 11-yard score just 2:06 in, and Mineola followed with a 30-yard field goal by Cameron Sorenson after Wall fumbled the ball on the ensuing kickoff.
Wall punted on its next three possessions, and two of Mineola's drives ended with touchdowns by Perkins and Crawford. The Yellow Jackets put the punctuation mark on its first-half statement with a 16-yard touchdown by Crawford on fourth-and-8, nine plays after Ian Thompson forced a Wall fumble on its own 35.
"Our coaches teach us that physicality. They teach us everything we do on this field," Crawford said. "I give that all to our coaches."
Though the dream of an all-East Texas state championship was dashed with Malakoff's loss, Mineola still sees the last game of the season as unfinished business. The Yellow Jackets lost to Cameron Yoe in the 2014 title game and were stopped one game short of the championship last year by Brock.
It's also the last chance for Crawford, Perkins and 17 other seniors to get that elusive ring.
"We've just got to come out and play hard. If we come out and play our hardest we can win that game, I promise you," Crawford said. "The passion I have for this game, I've got to give it everything I've got. I've got to be able to go in that locker room and say I didn't have anything left to give. We've all got to do that next week."
Mineola 50, Wall 8
Class 3A Division I State Semifinal
At Waco ISD Stadium
Mineola 16 14 7 13 -- 50
Wall 0 0 8 0 -- 8
MIN--Jeremiah Crawford 11 run (Cameron Sorenson kick), 9:54
MIN--Sorenson 30 FG, 6:38
MIN--Crawford 1 run (kick failed), 0:21
MIN--Chantz Perkins 5 run (Sorenson kick), 6:45
MIN--Crawford 16 run (Sorenson kick), 3:03
WAL--Garrett Sanford 83 kickoff return (Kanton Hoelscher pass from Brock Rosenquist), 11:48
MIN--Chantz Perkins 2 run (Sorenson kick), 6:23
MIN--Crawford 25 run (Sorenson kick), 9:21
MIN--Perkins 1 run (kick failed), 2:08
First Downs 26 9
Total Yards 456 127
Rushes-Yards 52-401 38-127
Passing Yards 55 0
Comp.-Att.-Int. 4-9-0 0-7-2
Punts-Avg. 1-46.0 4-27.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 4-3
Penalties-Yards 7-70 3-21
RUSHING--Mineola, Jeremiah Crawford 28-262, Chantz Perkins 23-139, Kourtland Sinches 1-0. Wall, Thomas Halfmann 11-65, Tymber Carr 4-27, Brock Rosenquist 15-20, Casey Braden 8-15.
PASSING--Mineola, Crawford 4-9-0--55. Wall, Rosenquist 0-7-2.
RECEIVING--Mineola, Seth Hudgins 2-29, Noah Sneed 1-14, Frankie Meason 1-12.