COPPERAS COVE — Bulldawg Stadium is quickly becoming a favorite place for Harker Heights graduate Khalil Corbett-Canada.
He won a key game at the stadium in high school and finished his junior college career with a wild 48-41 win over Garden City Community College as an offensive lineman for Trinity Valley Community College.
The Cardinals scored 10 points in the final minute to pull out a crazy win that featured big plays — and not all of them on the offensive side of the ball — to win the 17th annual C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl.
TVCC improved to 9-3 for the year and Garden City fell to 8-4 with the loss.
The win was the fourth in the bowl without a loss for TVCC head coach Brad Smiley, who was coaching in his final game for the Cardinals before moving to Northwestern State as offensive coordinator.
“Our kids just kept battling today,” Smiley said. “Both teams did. ... Garden City could have given up when they were down 17-0 in the first half.”
Corbett-Canada played right tackle for most of the game. He expects to keep playing football after a couple of years at TVCC.
“I have visits planned at a couple of colleges,” Corbett-Canada said. “This was a tough game but we never flinched ... just like coach Smiley preaches.
The Cardinals did not flinch, getting off to a quick start by scoring in six plays on their first drive. Quarterback Shelton Eppler hit Tony Mullins with a 16-yard touchdown pass at the 13:08 mark. Angel Sevier hit the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Sevier connected on a 46-yard field goal for a 10-0 TCCC led six minutes into the contest.
TVCC took at 17-0 lead two minutes into the second quarter on a second touchdown pass from Eppler to Mullins.
Garden City finally put together a drive, marching 68 yards in eight plays midway through the second quarter. Nigel Kilby used his 6-foot-8-inch height to catch a 5-yard touchdown pass from Terry Wilson over the TVCC defender. James White converted the extra point for GCCC.
Garden City had a long touchdown pass called back for a holding call on its next possession and trailed 17-7 at the end of the first half.
The Broncbusters took the opening kickoff 75 yards in 10 plays. Kilby scored his second touchdown of the game on a 2-yard pass from Wilson at the 12:15 mark of the third quarter.
Eppler put the Cardinals ahead by 10 points again on a 1-yard run at the 7:52 point of the third quarter. The Cardinals were stopped three times inside the 5 before Eppler scored.
Dillon Williams intercepted a pass for the Broncbusters and rumbled 51 yards for a touchdown. He stepped in front of a possible screen pass and had an open field for the score. Garden City trailed 24-21 at the 3:13 mark of the third quarter.
But the Cardinals recovered with a 69-yard drive to regain a 10-point lead. Eppler hit Tristen Wallace for a 19-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter. TVCC led 31-21 at the end of the third quarter, setting up a wild fourth quarter.
Meiko Dotson from Garden City pulled the Broncbusters within three points with a pick-6 to start the fourth quarter. He jumped a route and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. The Broncbusters trailed 31-28 just 32 seconds into the final quarter.
Garden City stopped the Cardinals on their next possession and finally had a chance to take the lead. Remi Simmons caught a touchdown on a 14-yard pass from Wilson at the 11:28 mark for the first lead of the game for the Broncbusters. The extra point by White made it a 35-31 game.
That lead was short-lived as Prince Robinson returned the ensuing kickoff from 2 yards deep in the end zone for a touchdown. TVCC led 38-35 with that score.
Daniel Davis gave the Broncbusters the lead on a 10-yard pass from Wilson with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game. Garden City moved 53 yards in only four plays on the drive. The extra point was missed for a 3-point lead, 41-38.
Sevier tied the game for TVCC on a 42-yard field goal with one minute remaining in the game.
A pick-6 by Robinson of TVCC on the Broncbusters’ first play from scrimmage resulted in the game-winning touchdown for the Cardinals. It was his second touchdown of the game.
Mullins of TVCC was chosen as the MVP for the winning team, catching two touchdown passes in the victory. Eppler finished with 242 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Wilson was named as the MVP for Garden City, throwing for 333 yards and running for 76 yards. Daniel Davis caught 13 passes for 166 yards and one touchdown. Defensively, Andreus Price made 8 1/2 tackles and Matt Terrell added seven stops.
In the NCAA Division II nightcap, Washburn beat Angelo State 41-25.