Mineola Tops Yoakum For First Football State Championship In School History
ARLINGTON -- Mineola's two-year journey back to the Class 3A Division I state championship game ended Thursday in front of 20,334 fans with the ultimate prize in hand.
The Yellowjackets won the big one for the first time in school history and did so in convincing fashion, 35-14, against Yoakum at the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium in Arlington. A big senior class, which mostly started in a 2014 state championship loss, ended their careers on top of the Texas high school football mountain once and forever.
"It is awesome," Mineola coach Joe Drennon said on top of the Cowboys' star at the 50-yard line with his team scattered from end zone to end zone in celebration. "It is awesome and I just can't describe it, to be honest with you. But it is a great, great moment for our kids and our school."
The two-headed rushing attack of senior quarterback Jeremiah Crawford and senior running back Chantz Perkins generated 397 yards on the ground and all five of the team's scores. Crawford won the game's Offensive MVP award with 276 of those yards and four touchdowns in addition to completing 2 of 3 passes for 17 yards.
Senior linebacker Kourtland Sinches won Defensive MVP as the leader of a defense that held Yoakum (11-5) to a net of 21 yards and no scores in the second half.
Mineola (14-2), which lost no games to 3A Division I competition all season, owned a 21-14 halftime lead and had possession of the ball for just about 16 of the second half's 24 minutes. It only benefitted from one Yoakum turnover in the second half, and the interception by Cameron Sorenson came after the Yellowjackets scored for the final time.
"Me and Jeremiah, man," Perkins said. "That's my brother right there. We just have a connection. We've been East Texas' duo for the past couple of years. You stop me from going outside, he's going to come right up the middle and take it house. You stop him from going up the middle, I'm just going to take it backside. He's a really great athlete, my brother. Great season."
Crawford and Perkins scored Mineola's first two touchdowns for a 14-7 lead around a running back pass from Yoakum's Henry Enoch to coveted junior recruit Jordan Moore.
When Yoakum answered to tie the game a second time, a 1-yard fumble recovery by Moore to end a 19-yard run by Tyron Brooks, Crawford gave the Yellowjackets a permanent lead by converting fourth-and-1 from Yoakum's 40-yard line for a touchdown.
Enoch always seemed one broken tackle away from breaking a big play against Mineola's defense early in the game. Sinches and the defensive crew tightened the screws as the first half progressed and squelched the entire running game after halftime.
A 5-yard touchdown run by Crawford around the midway point of the third quarter forced Yoakum to entirely abandon its pure I-formation offense. It migrated to adding a second fullback into the mix for a drive, only produced five yards and punted back to set up Crawford's third score of the night.
Yoakum tried the wildcat with Moore its next time out. A late hit by Mineola allowed it one first down before punting.
Crawford capitalized on that punt for the 35-14 score after burning the final 4:37 of the third quarter and the first 3:19 of the fourth quarter with a 5-yard run to end a 14-play and 75-yard drive.
The final scoring drive came in spite of a fumble recovered by Yoakum at its own 5-yard line. Moore stripped Perkins of the ball, but linebacker Ethan Owens got control the ball with a foot out of bounds to negate what otherwise would have been a 95-yard touchdown and a 28-21 game.
Down 35-21 after missing that break, Yoakum played an uptempo and pass-first series. Sorenson's pick ended the drive and allowed Mineola to gain a few first downs and kneel out the clock.
"We knew what they wanted to do," Sinches said. "We watched a lot of film of theirs. In order to be a great player, you have to watch film. We knew we had to get them out of their rhythm. They wanted to get here and run it, run it, run it. We just had to get them out of their rhythm, and we did."
That's that for that.
Mineola must replace 16 starters, including Crawford, Perkins and Sinches, in preparation for its title defense. The collective group posted a 40-7 record from their sophomore year onward with no worse finishes than the state semifinals.
But that's a story for another day.
The Yellowjackets are state champions and arguably the best pound-for-pound team in Texas.
"I'm so blessed to be from Mineola," Perkins said. "I cannot tell you enough how great our fans are and how great our community is. How they have backed us this whole way. This one is for our alumni, this one is for our coaches and this one is for our town."
Mineola 35, Yoakum 14
Class 3A Division I State Championship Game
At AT&T Stadium, Arlington
Yaokum 7 7 0 0 -- 14
Mineola 7 14 7 7 -- 35
MIN--Jeremiah Crawford 1 run (Cameron Sorenson kick), 7:13
YOA--Jordan Moore 25 pass from Henry Enoch (Jose De Los Santos), :56
MIN--Chantz Perkins 6 run (Sorenson kick), 11:53
YOA--Jordan Moore 1 run (De Los Santos), 5:09
MIN--Crawford 40 run (Sorenson), 2:20
MIN--Crawford 5 run (Sorenson kick), 8:26
MIN--Crawford 5 run (Sorenson kick), 8:41
First Downs 9 20
Total Yards 193 455
Rushes-Yards 26-148 51-438
Passing Yards 45 17
Comp.-Att.-Int. 4-6-1 2-3-0
Punts-Avg. 2-36.5 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 3-0
Penalties-Yards 3-15 5-50
RUSHING--Yoakum, Henry Enoch 14-121, Tyron Brooks 3-29, Montreal Jones 3-12, Josh Moore 2-5, Bryson Hagan 2-(-2), Jordan Moore 2-(-17). Mineola, Jeremiah Crawford 27-267, Chantz Perkins 20-121, Kourtland Sinches 2-34, Michael Drennon 1-6, JaMichael Brown 1-1.
PASSING--Yoakum, Enoch 1-1-0--25, Hagan 3-5-1--20. Mineola, Crawford 2-3-0--17
RECEIVING--Yoakum, Jordan Moore 2-34, Josh Morre 2-11. Mineola, Noah Sneed 1-11, Drennon 1-6.