CROCKETT -- Two costly Tyler Grace Community fumbles helped Houston Northland Christian squeak by for a 27-24 victory Saturday in the TAPPS Division II state quarterfinals at Monte Jack Driskell Stadium.

Grace closed its season with a second-place finish in District II, a bi-district round playoff win and a 10-2 overall record.

Grace fumbled for the second time with a 24-14 lead late in the third quarter.

Northland Christian climbed back to within a possession early in the fourth quarter on the ensuing drive when quarterback Michael Masarella took it himself for a 12-yard touchdown. The point after attempt failed.

Northland Christian held defensively before Masarella found Bruce Beason from eight yards away for the game-winning score. Just 1:27 remained in the game.

Up 14-7, Grace fumbled at its own 35-yard line late in the second quarter and Masarella hit Derrick Arrington for a 25-yard tying score following the point after attempt.

Grace regained the lead on Cristian Hooper's 24-yard field goal right before the break.

Masarella played a hand in a fourth Northland Christian touchdown as well. He ran in from eight yards to tie the game, 7-7, midway through the first quarter.

Mason Dacus turned in a good game for Grace despite the outcome. He ran for two touchdowns and 174 yards on 22 carries.

Quarterback Christopher Wilhelmi completed 12 of 20 passes for 120 yards while running for a touchdown and 81 yards.

Grace's loss ended any hope of East Texas earning a TAPPS football state championship this season. The only other local team to make the playoffs was Tyler Bishop Gorman, and it bowed out last week.

Grace's 10-win year was one of the best stories of the 2015 season. With a lot of inexperienced players, picked the team to finish fifth in the eight-team district ahead of the campaign.

Wilhelmi will return next year after throwing for 2,260 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior. He also put up 1,359 yards ground yards and 14 more touchdowns through the team's 12 games.

Three of the team's four leading receivers also will be back for 2016 as will leaders in the tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, interceptions and forced fumbles categories.


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