Pittsburg Held Short On Two-Point Conversion + Canton, White Oak Face Defending Championship Teams
COLLEGE STATION -- The Pirates' quest to compete for a state 7-on-7 football championship ended on what seemed like a meaningless missed two-point conversion opportunity late in the day Thursday at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex in College Station.
Hamshire-Fannett, a school just south of Port Arthur, broke up senior quarterback Brian Baca's potentially game-winning throw in the end zone with under a minute left and hung on for a 34-33 victory. With that win and help from fellow Pool E member Gatesville, Hamshire-Fannett leapfrogged Pittsburg into the championship rounds of the Division II Texas State 7-on-7 Tournament.
"I think we came into it thinking it was going to be an easy win," Baca said. "When you come in with a different mindset than trying to win, you tend to relax a little bit. We relaxed a little bit. Our tempo wasn't as great. My throwing wasn't as great. Our whole team chemistry got a little flustered.
"But the good thing is this is 7-on-7. It doesn't really count for anything. We're hoping we can correct those mistakes and turn in our best performances on Friday nights."
The Pirates closed group play with a 2-1 record in the four-team Pool E. Just a two-point conversion shy of clinching their pool's No. 1 seed in the championship tournament setting.
They finished as the pool's third-seed, earning a first-place seed in the consolation tournament.
It was looking great for Pittsburg through two full 40-minute games with a continuous clock. The team was the only remaining undefeated squad in the pool following a 40-26 win against Van Horn and a 32-28 victory at the expense of Gatesville.
But Hamshire-Fannett was able to go stride-for-stride with Baca in both team's third contest of the day. It completed 21-of-29 passes for 225 yards and five touchdowns while Baca racked up 238 yards and five touchdowns of his own.
Hamshire-Fannett broke a 27-27 tie at the five-minute warning with a touchdown throw of about nine yards to a tight end on a drag route. The team followed through with a converted PAT -- a completed pass from three yards out -- for a 34-27 lead.
It only took Baca four plays to guide Pittsburg's offense down the 45-yard field. He connected with Dejour Dowell with about three minutes to play, cutting Hamshire-Fannett's lead to 34-33. The Pirates elected to go for the win with a two-point conversion from six yards out, which was batted down in the middle of the end zone.
Pittsburg's defense held the opposition to a late third-and-long situation, and Hamshire-Fannett threw up a prayer, but a defensive pass interference call gave the team a new set of downs and allowed them to run out the clock.
"This has really shown us that all the teams here are good," Baca said. "We have to fight through adversity to be one of the best."
Red Shields led the Pirates with two touchdowns in the game. Noah Thames and D.J. Park joined Dowell with one score apiece.
Both teams stalled on their first possessions of the game. Hamshire-Fannett threw an interception on the first play of the game and Pittsburg went three-and-out.
The Pirates forced a turnover on downs just before the half, leaving the score 13-13 at the break.
Pittsburg will face Giddings at 8 a.m. today at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex in its opening game of the consolation bracket. Giddings dropped its first two games of the day but surprised Chapel Hill with a 47-46 win to close action Thursday.
"It was a nice pool," Shields said. "We faced some good competition across the state today and learned a little about ourselves and where we need to go. The Gatesville game and this game were really tight and good experiences."
White Oak Stresses Defending 4A Division I Champ
Navasota is expected to do some damage this season with several critical pieces returning from a team that won the Class 4A Division I state championship last season in double-overtime.
It wasn't an ideal draw for White Oak, a Class 3A Division I program, but the Roughnecks did hold their own in a 27-18 loss in Pool A competition.
"We tried not to think too much about what they were able to do last year and we know that 7-on-7 is a different style of game than actual football," senior quarterback Cade Palmer said. "But we came out here to compete and tried to do that against Navasota."
Trailing 19-12 midway through the second half, Palmer connected with sophomore receiver Heath Hood for 44 yards on the 45-yard field. The drive ended with an interception in the end zone four plays later.
Navasota began milking the clock from there and forced two late White Oak turnover on downs.
"It was exciting to see what we could do against them," Hood said. "We played with them the whole game. We missed some opportunities to take leads. But I thought we performed really well in this game."
White Oak benefitted from some strange Navasota play calling through the match.
The opposition consistently tried to throw over the top of the Roughnecks' defense and only recorded a handful of long gains. Navasota only put up 193 yards of total offense in the 40-minute game, but three of its four touchdowns were from 23 yards out or more.
Palmer passed for 247 yards as part of a 16-for-31 performance with three touchdowns. He had a pass tipped for an interception in the first frame and threw a pick on fourth down while going for the tie midway through the second half.
Junior receiver Antonio Castiglione scored two of White Oak's three touchdowns.
The Roughnecks finished their day 1-2 overall and join Pittsburg in the consolation bracket. In addition to the Navasota game, they defeated Yoakum, 26-20, and fell to Stephenville, 45-24.
White Oak will begin consolation play with an 8 a.m. meeting against Groesbeck.
Canton Takes On Cameron Yoe
There were quite a few people back in East Texas interested in Canton's game against Cameron Yoe in College Station.
Cameron Yoe defeated Mineola in the Class 3A Division I state championship game last season and are thought to be in the early mix again this season alongside the Yellowjackets.
Canton fell 39-35 en route to a 1-2 day overall and a trip to Friday's consolation bracket. It led 21-18 at the half.
"We were just looking at it like we do any game," quarterback Hunter Moore said. "We were going to run our routes and do our thing. We weren't really too worried about what they did last year. We're both new teams, so we just played our game."
Moore threw touchdown passes to cap Canton's first three possessions and helped build the team's 21-18 lead, but things got a little dicey when he closed the half with an interception.
Cameron Yoe drove 44 yards on its final first half possession. It stalled with incomplete passes on third and fourth downs, including a pass break up with Tre Fitzgerald just before the halftime whistle.
Canton lost the lead on Cameron Yoe's opening possession of the second half but regained it a final time, 28-25, with about 10 minutes to play.
Cameron Yoe took control with back-to-back scores in the final moments. Fitzgerald added a late, cosmetic score for the Eagles.
Canton closed out the day with a 39-12 win against La Marque and a 34-33 loss to Eastland. It will open consolation bracket play against Diboll today at 8 a.m.
"We were actually looking forward to this game," receiver Logan Nace said. "Coming out an playing a state championship team, getting up early and going crazy -- It kind of sucks it went downhill after halftime, but we gave it our all. That's all we could do."
For complete results from Thursday, and a schedule of Friday’s action, click here.