It was a magical run while it lasted!
No. 5 Strawn (9-5) had no answer for No. 3 Richland Springs (12-0) as the Coyotes’ lightning-in-a-bottle offense fed by Greyhound turnovers led to a 62-14 loss via the 45-point mercy-rule Friday in the Class 1-A D2 state semifinal game at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene.
The hoped-for classic game never unfolded, and when the Coyotes took an ominous 28-8 lead, there were shades of how Strawn jumped out in front of Gordon by the same score a week before.
Unlike that game against the Longhorns, Strawn allowed Richland Springs to extend their lead to the point where it appeared the game would be over by halftime when the Coyotes established a 56-8 lead.
A 60-yard scoring pass between JW Montgomery and Luke Eli with 26 seconds left before halftime was the only thing that allowed the concession stands to turn a profit.
In the first half, fans stayed glued to their seats on both sides of the field as Richland Springs fans celebrated touchdown after touchdown. The Strawn faithful kept hoping Coach Dewaine Lee would be able to pull a rabbit out of his hat.
Slurping coffee and hot chocolate while trying to keep their extra cheese nachos edible -- the chilly 45-degree temperatures did little to soothe fans’ moods.
Those who had watched the Greyhounds capture two straight state titles were in shock. When Texas Football predicted you would win by 10 points because the Coyotes had played a “weaker” schedule, it was a hard blow for Strawn fans to take.
The game’s tone was established early on during Richland’s Springs’ opening possession. A long pass and Strawn getting hit with a personal foul facemask penalty in the red zone led to a quick touchdown.
The quick touchdown ignited Richland Springs’ sideline and was only the start of an avalanche of points, turnovers, and penalties that curbed any chance the Greyhounds had of mustering a rally.
The Greyhounds were stopped on downs on their first possession. Strawn turned the ball over when Montgomery was pressured into tossing an interception that the Coyotes turned into their third score of the game -- with only 3:55 expired off the clock.
Trailing 22-0, Montgomery eluded defenders and found a streaking Marco Lopez on the fly for a 50-yard strike. Alex Hernandez’s extra-point kick made it a 22-8 game.
From that point on, Richland Springs seemed to have an answer for everything the Greyhounds tried and picked off three passes that were converted into scores.
“I lost a lot of sleep this week, knowing I was going to be going up against Coach Dewaine Lee,” Coach Jerry Burkhart said. “When you are up against Lee, you know you are in for a fight. Strawn is always well-coached, and you know they Greyhounds are never going to give up.”
Strawn did fight to the final minute and also hampered itself at the same time as the Greyhound were penalized seven times for 95 yards. Yellow hankies put Strawn in first-and-30 situations twice on drives where the Greyhounds had started to gain momentum.
“They (Richland Springs) did a good job. I am proud of them,” Lee said. “I told our boys to keep their heads up, and this is part of life. We got beat today. They got after us, and they did a good job.”
When the dust had settled, the Greyhounds ended up allowing 340 total yards while gaining 215. The Greyhounds pounding ground attack was held to 79 rushing yards with Lorenzo Lopez turning seven carries into 46 yards, and Lopez’s four carries were good for 43. Montgomery’s six pass completions netted 134 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Eli’s 60-yard touchdown reception was Strawn’s longest play of the contest, and Lopez led Greyhound receivers with two receptions for 58 yards and a score. Montgomery’s 13 tackles led the defense while David Shugart had seven.
The win assured that either Strawn or Richland Springs would be in the state title game for a stunning fifth-year in a row. The loss also denied the Greyhounds from becoming one of only three teams to win three straight titles.
Richland Springs advances to play Motley County in the state championship. The No. 6 Matadors defeated No. 8 Blackwell 56-44.