ABILENE — Gatesville didn’t have a lead until it mattered most.
The Hornets fell into an early hole and trailed by 13 points entering the fourth quarter, and their undefeated season appeared to be coming to an end.
But a furious rally sent the game into overtime, where Sebastian Corrales’ game-winning field goal lifted Gatesville to 37-34 win over Monahans to advance to the Class 3A regional quarterfinals.
“There was nothing going through my mind at that moment,” said the senior, who had an extra point blocked in the fourth quarter. “There was absolutely nothing.”
After connecting on the 35-yard field goal, however, it was difficult for Corrales to gather his thoughts.
“It feels wonderful,” he said, “I’m speechless.”
The regional-round victory at Shotwell Stadium was another display of poise and determination by the Hornets, who find new ways to win every week.
“That one was definitely pushing it,” said Gatesville quarterback Cole Edmiston. “We believed in each other, believed in the team, and we believed in Sebastian at the end. That was an awesome way to end it.”
But the fairy-tale ending required another fourth-quarter rally.
Trailing 34-21 to start the final 12 minutes, the Hornets sandwiched a pair of touchdown passes from Edmiston to Matthew Wallace around a defensive stop to tie the game 34-34 with 2:28 left.
The Loboes worked the ball down to Gatesville’s 46-yard line and appeared to move into scoring position inside the 5-yard line on a pass from Hassan Walker to Freddy Garcia, but an illegalman-downfield penalty negated the play. On the following snap, Walker was flagged for intentional grounding and the drive died.
“Those were killers (for Monahans),” Gatesville head coach Kyle Cooper said of the penalties. “It is unfortunate for them, but it allowed us (another chance).”
With only 17 seconds remaining, the Hornets could not find a way to score, and the game went into overtime, where Corrales saved their season.
“We don’t quit at all,” senior Tyler Jaynes, who held the ball on Corrales’ kick, said. “We always want to come back, we are going to come back and always will come back.”
The victory propels Gatesville into a regional quarterfinal game against Graham, which sports a 12-1 record after dispatching of Midland Greenwood 41-23 on Friday. The game is tentatively scheduled for Friday at 7:30 at Stephenville.
“Our kids have a ton of heart and a ton of character,” Cooper said. “I’m just extremely proud of them. They fought back from being down, and when they had to, they stepped up and made the plays.”
Not much went right for Gatesville early, though, especially defensively as Monahans scored on three of its first four possessions.
The Hornets dug themselves an early hole after junior running back Jake Kee lost a fumble on the team’s second snap from scrimmage, setting up a 52-yard scoring drive by Monahans. Less than a minute later, however, Gatesville struck back as Edmiston, who completed 21 of 28 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns, found Jaynes for a 64-yard score, tying the game 7-7 with 3:21 remaining in the first quarter.
On the ensuing possession, the Loboes responded as quarterback Zack Navarro scored on fourth-down run from the 1-yard line. Monahans then attempted to run for a two-point conversion but was stopped short of the goal line, making the score 13-7 early in the quarter.
Gatesville’s deficit grew to 13 points after the Hornets were forced to punt, and the Loboes marched 74 yards, scoring on Walker’s 32-yard pass to Junior Morales. Despite having a mere 30 seconds to work following Kee’s 47-yard kickoff return to Monahans’ 43-yard line, Edmiston connected with Byrd on consecutive passes, including a 23-yard touchdown with eight seconds remaining, and the Hornets went into halftime trailing 20-14.
Unable to get going on the ground, Gatesville posted 26 rushing yards in the first half, but Edmiston was near flawless, completing 6 of 8 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns.
“They played their ends real wide to stop our run game,” Edmiston said. “We knew at halftime, we had to throw the ball on them. We threw a lot in the second half and picked them apart.”