By TONY EIERDAM
HICO – With 3:45 left to play in an exciting and furious six man Division I state semifinal game Saturday night at Tiger Stadium, the Gordon Longhorns, trailing 66-60, were poised to take the lead after stopping Abbott for the first time in the second half.
The ‘Horns and Panthers were engaged in a see-saw affair that saw Gordon come back and tie the game on two occasions early in the third period after taking three one-touchdown leads in the first half.
But after Abbott got a stop in the third quarter and scored twice to stretch its lead to two touchdowns, the Longhorns were playing from behind and unable to stop Panthers running back Tyler Russell, who would find the end zone on the ground nine times in this contest.
But after making up one of the scores and executing the big stop, the ‘Horns found themselves just 56 yards away from a chance of taking the lead and giving themselves an opportunity to advance to the state championship game.
However, it was not to be. A touchdown called back on a penalty and an incomplete pass on fourth down wiped out the best opportunity of the second half for the ‘Horns to take a lead.
Russell put the nail in the coffin with a four-yard blast into the end zone as the Panthers advance to the state title game after a 74-60 win over the Longhorns.
The ‘Horns finish a successful season with a 10-4 mark. Abbott advances to the state championship game and will face Throckmorton.
“I am extremely proud of our accomplishments,” Longhorns head coach Shane Mallory said. “Very proud.
“This season we never were entirely healthy, but our depth kept us alive. We just kept plugging in new people and rolled on.
“We had a big chance to win this game – it was within our grasp.
“We just didn’t get the breaks at the end that we needed.