Mineola’s Jeremiah Crawford + Chantz Perkins Run Wild In Regional Championship Win Against Sunnyvale
ROYSE CITY -- The best thing about Mineola quarterback Jeremiah Crawford and running back Chantz Perkins is that nothing seems impossible.
It's fathomable they can go 99 yards with the ball in their hands. It's likely they'll break off multiple 50-yard runs per game. It's becoming more probable they can steer their team toward a second-chance date with destiny.
Crawford ran for 319 yards and four touchdowns while Perkins carried 22 times for 211 yards and two scores Saturday in the Yellowjackets' 45-28 victory against Sunnyvale in the Class 3A Division I, Region II championship game at Royse City ISD Stadium.
With the victory, the team is a game away from a second straight state championship appearance. That much closer to finishing a dream that started somewhere in the fourth quarter of last year's title game loss.
Mineola will take on Brock in the state semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday inside Grand Prairie's Warrior-Gopher Bowl.
"I'll tell you what, man. It's a great time to be a Yellowjacket right now," head coach Joe Drennon said. "This stuff never gets old. I tell the kids all the time, 'Enjoy the moment because it doesn't happen for everybody. It's something real special.'"
The wild thing is, there's way more to the Yellowjackets than just the dynamic duo. Sunnyvale (12-2) knew what was coming in that regard because Crawford and Perkins' running abilities account for more than 75 percent of the total offensive output.
As Mineola (14-0) worked to five touchdowns and Willie Tinajero's 32-yard field goal in its first seven possessions, Sunnyvale managed just one touchdown through its first six possessions for a 31-7 deficit at the 9:07 mark of the third quarter.
"They did score, but just because they scored once doesn't mean that we needed to get down on ourselves," cornerback Noah Sneed said. "Our offense performed great. Our offense always does. We just had to get a few key stops, and our defense did great."
The touchdown Sneed referred to was quarterback Patrick Spera's 26-yard scramble after evading a sack on third-and-goal from the 23. That made it a 10-7 game in the second quarter.
Kartney Hampton had knocked the ball loose from Spera the play beforehand for a 17-yard loss.
Sunnyvale got to the fourth round of the playoffs for a reason though. It put up back-to-back touchdowns by forcing a Mineola turnover on downs in between the scores during the third quarter to make it a 31-21 game into the final 12 minutes.
Crawford gave the Yellowjackets a 17-point margin once again with a 25-yard run one play after Perkins went off for 20 yards.
Spera connected with Chima Enyinna for 18 yards to bring Mineola's lead back down to 38-28 with 8:14 to play.
It got even better for Sunnyvale.
The defense held for a fourth-and-2 at its own 36 with about six minutes left in the game. If it got the stop, it would have decent field position and adequate time to help it sustain an improbable comeback effort.
Instead, Crawford took the fourth-and-2 run to the end zone for his final touchdown of the day.
"That guy is a stud," Drennon said. "I never say that and I'll probably regret it, but he is a stud. We've got a great offensive line that, when they dominate a game, they dominate it. Jeremiah and Chantz just fill the holes up and go with it.
"You know, that last touchdown he scored, I'm fixing to call a different play. He said, 'No. Give me the sweep.' Then he goes house with it."
Sunnyvale got the ball back with 5:44 left in the game. It burned three minutes and two timeouts driving from its own 25-yard line to the Mineola 20, but it ultimately turned the ball over on downs with a 4-yard scramble and a 1-yard loss on a pass sandwiched around two incompletions.
Crawford ran 37 yards the next play to persuade Sunnyvale not to use its last timeout.
The passing game was Sunnyvale's absolute strength this season. It finished the game with 242 yards as Spera completed 21 of 33 throws and receiver Cash Goodhart recorded eight yards on one limitedly successful double pass. Enyinna caught five passes for 99 yards and Lawson Ayo finished a yard behind him.
At the same time, Sunnyvale missed its average total offensive production by 128 yards. It generated 99 rushing yards with 32 carries.
"We knew they were a long ball team, so we knew if we stopped them over the top that they'd have to beat us inside and down the middle," Sneed said. "We double covered (Ayo and Goodhart). They were both really good athletes. We knew if we could stop them that we would win the game."
In addition to pass defense, Sneed saved a muffed punt return in the final minute of the first half. He recovered the ball at Mineola' own 19-yard line.
Sunnyvale wrapped up its season as the most successful team in its school's six-year history. It had never made the playoffs before this season.
Mineola's current team ensured it will be the program's second-best finisher in a worst-case scenario. A state championship win would make it the best Yellowjackets team of all time, surpassing the 2014 state finalist team.
Everything is still out there.
"It is awesome," Sneed said. "I cannot even talk about it. It's awesome."
Mineola 45, Sunnyvale 28
Class 3A Division I State Quarterfinal Playoff Game
Royse City ISD Stadium
Mineola 3 21 7 14 -- 45
Sunnyvale 0 7 14 7 -- 28
MIN--Willie Tinajero 32 field goal, 9:05
MIN--Chantz Perkins 4 run (Tinajero kick), 11:56
SV--Patrick Spera 26 run (Corey Crenshaw kick), 9:08
MIN--Jeremiah Crawford 22 run (Tinajero kick), 6:35
MIN--Crawford 1 run (Tinajero kick), 1:47
MIN--Perkins 2 run (Tinajero kick), 9:07
SV--Cash Goodhart 10 pass from Spera (Crenshaw kick), 6:01
SV--Lawson Ayo 26 pass from Spera (Crenshaw kick), 1:48
MIN--Crawford 25 run (Tinajero kick), 10:14
SV--Chima Enyinna 18 pass from Spera (Crenshaw kick), 8:14
MIN--Crawford 36 run (Tinajero kick), 5:44
First Downs 23 19
Total Yards 559 341
Rushes-Yards 51-530 32-99
Passing Yards 29 242
Comp.-Att.-Int. 2-5-0 22-34-0
Punts-Avg. 1-63 4-40.3
Fumbles-Lost 0-1 0-1
Penalties-Yards 2-15 1-10
RUSHING--Mineola, Jeremiah Crawford 29-319, Chantz Perkins 22-211. Sunnyvale, Jose Castillo 9-33, Patrick Spera 11-24, Tre Sterling 3-22, Jon Ennin 9-20.
PASSING--Mineola, Crawford 2-5-0--29. Sunnyvale, Spera 21-33-0--234, Cash Goodhart 1-1-0--8.
RECEIVING--Mineola, Kortland Sinches 1-16, Addison Rychlik 1-13. Sunnyvale, Chima Enyinna 5-99, Lawson Ayo 6-98, Goodhart 5-16, Castillo 1-12, Sterling 1-9, Ennin 2-8.