By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
Cameron Yoe and the Temple Wildcats represented Central Texas Football well, as the two teams took to the field at AT&T Stadium in Arlington at the Texas UIL State Football Championships.
Yoe’s quest for a third consecutive championship, this one of the Class 3A Division I, came against the Mineola Yellowjackets on Thursday night.
Cameron went into the game with an 11-4 record and Mineola went in at 12-3.
The Yellowjackets found out in a hurry that the bright lights of the state championship stage are not for the faint of heart. The Yoemen kicked off and a Mineola kick returner froze up, looking at the ball that rolled dead at the Cameron 17. Cameron recovered the fumble. A short time later, Traion Smith ran the ball in from four yards out. Eric Sanchez’s extra-point made the score 7-0 just 1:01 into the contest.
Stout special teams and defense gave the Yoemen offense the ball back on their own 35. Just four plays later, Traion Smith found the end zone again, once again from four yards out. Sanchez made the score 14-0.
Again, special teams and defense paid dividends for the Yoemen again, giving Cameron Yoe the ball on their own 41. In 11 plays, Traion Smith cashed in for the third time, this time from 17 yards out. Sanchez gave Cameron a 21-0 lead with 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Jeremiah Crawford, who had a great season for the Yellowjackets, put his metal on display on the next drive. Scrambling out of the pocket on the jet sweep, Crawford’s 47-yard scramble set up his own 10-yard touchdown run. Willie Tinajero’s extra-point made the score 21-7 with 6:27 remaining in the first half.
Reid Nickerson’s 63-yard pass play to Sicory Smith took Cameron’s lead back out to a 21 points at 28-7.
Crawford’s 13-yard touchdown run capped off a 67-yard, 7-play drive. However, Tinajero’s point-after attempt failed and kept the score at 28-13.
Nickerson and Aaron Sims hooked up twice in the final 58 seconds, sandwiched around a John Washington interception that set up the second score. Nickerson found Sims for a 43-yard strike making the score 35-13. Crawford’s pass attempt to Michael Drennon was intercepted by Washington on the Mineola 39. Nickerson’s Hail Mary attempt went into quadruple coverage. Sims hauled the ball in on the goal line with no time remaining in the first half to make the score 42-13. The Cameron Yoe faithful were elated with the effort from the Yoemen and gave the team a standing ovation as they left the field.
Mineola’s defense stepped up huge on Cameron’s first drive of the third quarter. Noah Sneed picked up a Yoeman fumble and raced 61 yards for a defensive touchdown. Tinajero’s extra-point made the score 42-20.
Cameron put the game out of reach on the next three drives, as Nickerson hit Sims with a 47-yard touchdown pass and Traion Smith scored his fourth and fifth touchdown runs on 19 yards and one yard respectively Drennon hauled in a 7-yard pass from Crawford for the lone offensive touchdown of the quarter for Mineola. Cameron Yoe led 63-27 after the third quarter.
Nickerson tossed his fifth touchdown of the game on Cameron’s first foray into the Yellowjackets’ territory in the fourth quarter, as he hit Jordan Wells for a 23-yard score to give the Yoemen a 70-27 lead.
Chantz Perkins scored twice in the final 50 seconds for Mineola, as he posted touchdown runs of 47 and 8 yards. The second touchdown the run ended the game, with Cameron winning the state championship by a score of 70-40.
Washington received the Defensive MVP award with his two interceptions, three tackles and two tackles for loss.
Sims received the Offensive MVP award for his six receptions, 153 yards and three touchdowns. Nickerson and Traion Smith were also candidates for the award, as Nickerson was 15-of-21 passing for 311 yards and five TD passes, and Traion Smith had 22 carries for 154 yards and five TD runs.
“I am so proud of these kids and what they accomplished,” Cameron Yoe head coach Rick Rhoades said. “The 2010 team set the bar for us to reach (Cameron Yoe lost to Daingerfield 34-27 that year) and we use it as the benchmark. It takes a lot of work to win and even more to win three straight.”
Temple’s foray into Jerry World was on Saturday as they took on the 2013 Class 4A-Division II Champion Aledo Bearcats.
The Wildcats went into the ballgame at 14-1, with the lone blemish a 49-48 tough loss at Austin Westlake. The Bearcats’ lone defeat was a 42-7 loss to Bishop Amat (Calif.).
Temple jumped on the board first, as Davion Curtis broke away for a 48-yard touchdown reception from Chad President. Cole Martin’s extra-point made the score 7-0 just 1:34 into the game.
Aledo answered with a 55-yard, 3-play drive, as Jess Anders’ three-yard run made the score 7-7 with 6:44 to go in the first quarter.
Marques Hatcher gave the lead back to Temple, capping an 8-play, 80-yard drive with a four-yard run to make the score 14-7.
Luke Bishop executed the jet sweep perfectly, as he pulled the ball in and ran 55 yards for Aledo’s tying score. Larry Brown intercepted President’s next pass attempt and raced in from 31 yards out to put the Bearcats on top 21-14 as the quarter expired shortly thereafter.
Anders gave the Bearcats a two-score lead at 28-14 with an 11-yard touchdown run, capping a 70-yard drive that took 6:36 and 70 yards to cover.
Temple (13-2) had a touchdown called back on the next drive due to a holding penalty that turner out to make a huge difference in the outcome of the ballgame. Martin’s 35-yard field goal cut the Wildcats’ deficit to 11 points at 28-17.
Aledo quickly took advantage of Temple putting three points on the board by putting seven points up less than two minutes later. Bishop hit Austin Summerhill with a five-yard touchdown pass to put the Bearcats up 35-17 at halftime.
The teams battled back and forth for the first eight minutes of the third quarter before an 11-play, 74-yard, 2:49 drive by Temple culminated in a Hatcher nine-yard run to make the score 35-24.
Martin attempted an on-side kick that was recovered on an excellent recovery by Terrell LaTouche on the Aledo 46. Hatcher’s five-yard run put the Wildcats to within four points at 35-31 going into the fourth quarter.
Anders atoned for the fumble in a huge way to start the fourth quarter. On fourth down and six yards to go on the Temple 29, Aledo rolled the dice and went for it. Bishop dropped back three steps and threw a bubble screen to a wide-open Anders on the far sidelines and raced 29 yards for the touchdown, pushing the lead back to 11 points at 42-31.
Unfazed, President made several big plays, including an athletic pass attempt racing towards the Temple sidelines. In eight plays and 72 yards, taking 2:42 off the clock, President hit a hole in the middle of the line for a six-yard touchdown to make the score 42-38.
Anders was stripped of the ball at the Temple 28 by Marquelle Davis-Ponce and the fumble recovery was made on the Temple 30.
President led the Wildcats down the field. On the Aledo 40, President threw a lateral towards the numbers to Tyler Hannon. Hannon found Jordan Lee in triple-coverage, but started to separate. Lee looked the ball in after it was tipped, he initially tipped it, never lost sight of the ball and hauled it in for a highlight-reel touchdown to put Temple on top 45-42 with 5:50 remaining. The reception will be one that will be remembered in not only the highlight reels of the 2014 championships, but may be one of the most memorable ones in Temple Wildcats’ football history.
Aledo took the ensuing kickoff 75 yards and ate up 5:03 off the clock in 13 plays. Bishop’s six-yard run with 47 seconds left gave the Bearcats a 49-45 lead.
Temple started their attempt to tie the drive on their own 24, with just 41 seconds and no time-outs. President rushed for seven yards and moved the sticks with a four-yard completion to Keion Seastrunk. Following an incompletion, President hit a pair of 15-yard passes to Aaron Freeman setting up final play pass attempt from the Aledo 35. President pass was long enough to the midpoint of the end zone, but landed in the hands of Crawford, who came in for the pass coverage of the Hail Mary attempt as time expired. The interception ended the game and the Wildcats’ title dreams, as Aledo (15-1) took home its second consecutive state championship and fifth in the last six years.
Both schools were well-represented by the players and fans. Many Belton residents took in both games, with the Cameron-Mineola game drawing 13,561 fans and the Temple-Aledo game attendance at 40,281.
Congratulations to Cameron Yoe on their third consecutive championship and to Temple on an amazing 2014 run.