HEWITT — Gatesville scored on offense, defense and special teams — all in the final five minutes and 21 seconds.
Tied with Alvarado 28-28 in the fourth quarter, the Hornets went ahead on a 57-yard touchdown pass before recovering an onside kick, taking an interception in for a score and recovering a fumbled kickoff in the end zone to secure a 48-28 Class 3A bi-district victory and keep their undefeated record intact.
Following the wild finish at Waco Midway’s Panther Stadium, Gatesville quarterback Cole Edmiston, who threw 250 yards and five touchdowns, could hardly believe what he witnessed.
“I don’t even remember all of the last five minutes,” the quarterback said. “We just came out on top.”
While he could not remember how, Edmiston knew exactly why his team was victorious.
“Every single person on the team is resilient,” he said. “They are passionate about the game and put in so much hard work. And when you put in that much hard work, you are going to play your guts out and you are going to lay everything you have out on the field. And every single one of our players did that tonight.”
The teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 28 and exchanged unproductive possessions until the momentum began swinging in Gatesville’s direction. First, Alvarado receivers dropped consecutive potential first downs catches on both third and fourth down, turning the ball over at the Gatesville 43-yard line.
It took one snap for the Hornets to find the end zone as Edmiston found Connor Watson for a 57-yard touchdown to put Gatesville ahead 35-28 with 5:21 remaining.
On the ensuing kickoff, senior J.D. Nolte recovered an onside kick by Sebastian Corrales to give the team a huge surge of adrenaline.
“I was excited. I wanted him to call it,” Nolte said of head coach Kyle Cooper’s decision. “We were up one touchdown, and if we got the ball back, maybe we could put up another one and get a lot of momentum, and probably end the game right there.”
It did not work out exactly as planned because the Hornets turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert on fourth-and-inches at the Alvarado 13-yard line. Two plays later, however, senior defensive back Tyler Jaynes intercepted Kenny West’s pass and took it 30 yards for a touchdown and a 41-28 advantage after the extra point was missed.
Jaynes also caught three passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns.
“It makes me feel great to know I did my part to help the team out,” Jaynes said. “That was the best experience I’ve ever experienced in football.”
On the ensuing kickoff, the Hornets struck again as Colin Magee recovered a fumble in the end zone to provide the final points of the evening.
“The ball was on the ground and nobody picked it up, so I just went after it,” Magee said.
The victory sends Gatesville (11-0) into the area round, where it will face Vernon (9-2), who defeated Springtown 55-28. The game is Friday at Weatherford.
“It will probably be very similar (to this game),” Cooper said of Vernon. “It is going to be a tough, physical football game.”
Gatesville fell into an early hole as Alvarado needed just six plays to score on the game’s opening possession. Senior running back Lee Hardy capped off the 82-yard drive with a 49-yard run into the end zone.
The Hornets responded on the next drive, converting a fourth-and-7 en route to a 26-yard scoring pass from Edmiston to J.D. Nolte with 6:34 left on the clock.
Gatesville’s defense made a stand on the ensuing possession, forcing the Indians to punt, and the Hornets claimed their first lead of the game with 9:33 left in the second quarter, when Edmiston found Tyler Jaynes for a 35-yard touchdown and a 14-7 advantage.
The lead would not last, however, as Hardy scored on a one-yard, fourth-down run with 3:04 remaining before halftime.
Edmiston almost engineered a scoring drive in the final minutes of the half, accounting for all of the team’s yards while leading the Hornets to the Alvarado 12-yard line, but a chop block penalty negated a touchdown pass with 10 second remaining, and the Hornets failed to convert a fake field goal as time expired.