GATESVILLE — He’s been doing it all season long — if a play can be made, Gatesville quarterback Cole Edmiston will make it.
In the biggest game of his high school career, Edmiston repeatedly refused to go down, or lose.
“I just do my best to keep the play alive and just run away from the other team,” Edmiston said. “When I do that ... the receivers do a great job of getting open, my linemen do a great job of working and I just do my best to keep the play alive and never give up on the play.”
Edmiston ran for two scores, threw for three and the Gatesville defense held Brownwood scoreless in the second half as the No. 12 Hornets clinched their first district championship in a decade Friday with a 35-14 win over the Lions at McKamie Stadium.
Edmiston scored on 1-yard run with a minute left in the first half to give the Hornets (9-0, 4-0 8-3A) a 21-14 lead at halftime, then threw touchdown passes of 24 and 46 yards in the third quarter to Tyler Jaynes and Matthew Wallace to give the Hornets the District 8-3A championship.
It's their first title since winning three straight beginning in 2000, the year they won the 3A state championship.
“I’m extremely happy for these kids. They’ve worked hard, they’ve earned it,” said Gatesville coach Kyle Cooper. “They bailed us out time and time again. We’re really proud of them and really proud for them.”
Brownwood (5-4, 3-1) started its first two drives of the second half at or inside the Gatesville 40-yard line, but the Lions turned the ball over on downs to end their third quarter-opening drive and punted on their next offensive series.
Edmiston completed the 24-yard touchdown pass to Jaynes on a fourth-and-five play to cap the Hornets’ first drive of the second half and then evaded three sack attempts by the Brownwood defense to throw the 46-yard scoring strike to Wallace with 1:03 left in the third.
“He’s extended plays with a skill that’s rarely seen in high school,” Cooper said of Edmiston. “He did a great job. The receivers are doing a great job staying alive; the line’s doing a great job continuing to find work and they’re just making plays happen. ... It’s tough to defend.”
Edmiston completed 13 of 19 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns and ran 21 times for 93 yards and a pair of scores. Jake Kee carried 14 times for 74 yards and Jaynes finished with three catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns, including a 39-yarder that gave the Hornets an early 7-0 lead.
Brownwood quarterback Chris Keesee completed 18 of 27 attempts for 166 yards and ran six times for 2 yards and a touchdown.
Gatesville’s defense held the Lions to 87 yards and sacked Keesee three times in the second half.
“The defense stepped up tremendously,” Edmiston said. “We made some adjustments at halftime and they executed them perfectly. They came out, knew what they had to do and did it. That’s an overlooked component right there, the defense is what made this game.”
At first, it was the lone turnover.
After the two teams traded opening-drive touchdowns, Gatesville held a slim 7-6 lead but was forced to punt on it second offensive series. Brownwood’s Cooper Howey dropped the punt and the Hornets’ Colton Williams recovered at the Lions’ 8-yard line. Kee ran for 7 on first down to set up Edmiston’s 1-yard touchdown dive that gave Gatesville a 14-6 lead with 1:35 left in the first quarter.
The Lions roared right back, though, with a 17-play, 76-yard touchdown drive that consumed more than eight minutes between the first and second quarters. Kilgo capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown and Keesee’s 2-point conversion pass to Howey tied the game at 14 with just under 5½ minutes left in the second quarter.
Kee had a 21-yard run on the Hornets’ next drive to set up Edmiston’s second rushing touchdown that reclaimed the lead for Gatesville with a minute left in the first half.
“We kind of weathered the storm through the first half and then we were able to get that one (score) right there (at the end of the half),” Cooper said. “That was a big momentum swing. Then, we were able to stop them on their opening drive (of the second half), go score, go up 14 and then the kids kind of smelled blood in the water.”