[By Anthony Hawthorne, Special to ETSN.fm]

CARTHAGE -- Facing an opponent known largely for its defense, the San Augustine Wolves knew they would be in for a dogfight at Bulldog Stadium Friday night. They got just that.

The Wolves grinded out a 24-13 victory over the Harleton Wildcats in their Class 2A Division I Region III bi-district playoffs, advancing to play Centerville in the area round next week.

It wasn’t pretty at times, but behind the duo of Jamikel Roberts and Keonte Watts and a strong defense of their own that forced four turnovers, the Wolves took control early and held on late.

“We preached all week long that defense was going to win this game,” said San Augustine coach Donald Hubbard. “We knew the weather was going to be cold, we practiced on it, we stressed it, and these guys bought into it and played a great defensive game.”

Having built a 12-0 halftime advantage, the Wolves looked to have sealed things by the middle of the third quarter.

Three runs by Jeremy Jenkins, who finished with 56 yards on the night, moved San Augustine (6-5) past midfield where one play later Roberts and Watts connected for their first of two scores on the night -- this one coming from 45 yards out as Watts sprinted open across the middle of the field.

After punts by both teams, Kordell Parks fell on a fumble on the snap, a problem for the Wildcats throughout the night. Harleton fumbled five times, and lost three of them.

The Wolves took over at the Harleton 14-yard line and used the legs of KJ Davis to pick up a fourth-and-short, setting up the second connection between Roberts and Watts -- this time from 2 yards away.

With the Wolves holding a 24-0 lead late in the third, the Wildcats (8-3) fought back.

Harleton’s Austin O’Dell, the workhouse for the Wildcats who finished with 109 yards on 21 carries, moved the ball deep into Wolves territory with a pair of rushes.

Quarterback Will Davis found Will Tringle for his first completion of the night on fourth-and-6 for 15 yards, and one play later hit Cody Fregia for a 12-yard TD, cutting the Wolves' lead to 24-7.

The ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Wildcats' Dustin Reddock, as Harleton started near midfield.

A false start and a loss of 7 on a bad snap exchange forced the Wildcats to go deep on a double reverse pass on third-and-23. The pass was picked off by San Augustine's Daedae Edwards.

The Wolves gave the Wildcats life once again as a Roberts pass on third-and-15 was picked off by Fregia, setting the Wildcats up at the San Augustine 11-yard line.

The Wildcats didn’t waste any time as Davis found Dillon Ridgeway for an 11-yard TD pass, cutting the lead to 24-13.

The Wolves were able to use the legs of Roberts and Davis to run the clock down, sealing the victory.

“We had to grind it out,” Hubbard said. “The cold weather was messing with our receivers' hands, that’s just part of the game. They have to learn to overcome that. Our ground game came alive in the second half and was able to control the ball and keep our defense off the field.”

Roberts, the reigning Built Ford Tough Texas High School Player of the Week in 2A after his seven-TD performance last week, was held to just 101 yards through the air on 14 of 25 passes with three touchdowns. He added 55 yards on the ground.

Next up for the Wolves is Centerville (7-3).

“Centerville is a hard-nosed, smash-mouth football team,” Hubbard said. “We’ve got to buckle up our chin-straps again. They’re going to come right at us and we’ve got to be able to stop them”

The first half started poorly for the Wildcats and didn’t get much better.

The opening kickoff was fumbled by the Wildcats and picked up by San Augustine, with the Wolves taking over at the Harleton 33-yard line.

A couple of runs by Roberts set up a third-and-13 at the Wildcat 14. Roberts’s pass into the end zone fell incomplete, but a pass interference penalty gave the Wolves a first-and-goal at the 2.

Jenkins found the end zone on the next play, giving the Wolves a quick 6-0 lead.

The teams exchanged punts on the next two possessions with the Wildcats starting at the Wolves 23-yard line after a bad snap on the punt led to a 8-yard pass on fourth-and-15.

The Wildcats failed to take advantage, despite the efforts of O’Dell. The running back converted a first-and-20 by himself, with runs of 10, 7, and 4 yards setting the ball up at the 12-yard line. The drive stalled from there when the snap was fumbled and recovered by San Augustine's Yvenske’ Rushing.

The Wildcat defense forced a punt. However, they once again couldn’t take advantage.

A fourth-down fumble by the Wildcats was recovered once again by Rushing, with the big man rumbling 30 yards to the Wildcat 24-yard line.

The Wolves gave it right back with a fumble on the next play, however there was nothing doing once again for the Wildcats. A 27-yard punt gave the Wolves the ball at their own 36.

Runs by Roberts and Jenkins moved the ball close to midfield, where Roberts took a second-down handoff down the sideline for 36 yards to the Wildcats' 15-yard line. Roberts hit Chris Rodger for 8 yards, setting up a fourth-and07 at the 12.

Following a timeout, Roberts hit Ty-rae Johnson across the middle for the score. The two-point attempt failed, giving the Wolves the 12-0 halftime advantage.


San Augustine 24, Harleton 13

Class 2A Division I
Region III Bi-District Playoff

At Bulldog Stadium, Carthage

Harleton                     0     0     7     6    --    13
San Augustine            6     6   12     0    --    24

First Quarter
SA--Jeremy Jenkins 2 run (kick failed), 9:40.
Second Quarter
SA--Ty-rae Johnson 12 pass from Jamikel Roberts (two-point failed), 1:08.
Third Quarter
SA--Keonte Watts 45 pass from Roberts (two-point failed), 9:33.
SA--Watts 5 pass from Roberts (two-point failed), 3:24.
HAR--Cody Fregia 12 pass from Will Davis (Marche Zimicki kick), :31.
Fourth Quarter
HAR--Dillon Ridgeway 11 pass from Davis (kick failed), 5:26.

                                            HAR                 SA
First Downs                              10                 14
Total Yards                             183               266
Rushes-Yards                    34-125         37-165
Passing Yards                           58              101
Comp.-Att.-Int.                   6-17-1        14-25-1
Punts-Avg.                          2-28.0          2-30.0
Fumbles-Lost                           5-3              1-1
Penalties-Yards                     10-76            9-60

RUSHING--Harleton, Austin O'Dell 21-109, Joseph Earle 9-23, Dillon Ridgeway 1-0, Will Davis 3-(-7). San Augustine, Jeremy Jenkins 9-56, Jamikel Roberts 10-55, KJ Davis 18-54.
PASSING--Harleton, Davis 6-17-1--58. San Augustine, Roberts 14-25-1--101.
RECEIVING--Harleton, Cody Fregia 3-28, Jordan Tringle 2-19, Ridgeway 1-11. San Augustine, Ty-rae Johnson 4-14, Keonte Watts 3-55, Daedae Edwards 3-17, Chris Rodger 2-9, Davis 1-9, Jenkins 1-(-3).