By Evan Ren
Killeen Daily Herald
The road to the Sweet 16 was filled with early potholes for the Ellison Eagles, who rallied from a 1-4 start to win six of seven games.
Here is a look back at the path the Eagles have taken, with a brief synopsis of each game thus far:
n 5A Buda Hays 56, Ellison 25 At Leo Buckley Stadium, Amadeus Waters rushed for 161 yards on 24 carries and scored six touchdowns to lead the Rebels over Ellison.
Hays went on to win its first nine games before losing to Austin Westlake in Week 10. The Rebels finished at 11-2, falling to Lufkin (45-30) last week in the 5A Division II area round.
Ellison sophomore quarterback Ivan Delgado was 12-of-20 on the evening for 193 yards and one touchdown in his varsity debut. But a pair of interceptions proved costly.
n 5A Shoemaker 45, Ellison 28 At Buckley, Keith Smith completed 10 of 18 passes for 192 yards while guiding the Grey Wolves to the win.
SHS tallied more than 400 yards in total offense, as did Ellison. But three first-half Eagle turnovers proved their undoing.
Smith went on to verbally commit to Purdue as a quarterback; Shoemaker went on to finish at 6-4, but out of the playoffs.
n 5A Cedar Park 20, Ellison 15 At Buckley, Cedar Park quarterback Tyler Watson scored on a 30-yard option keep with 6:07 left to play to drop the Eagles to 0-3 on the year.
Ellison had taken its only lead of the game just one possession earlier on a 2-point conversion run by Michael Hollowell. This, after Delgado found Ceasar Cobb with a 17-yard touchdown pass with 10:17 left in the game.
The Eagles had two opportunities to reclaim the advantage, only to be halted by a pair of turnovers.
n Ellison 27, Taylor 18 At Taylor, the outer fringe of Hurricane Rita pushed wind speeds up to 35 mph as Ellison corner Terrance Monroe provided the play of the game.
With the Eagles leading 20-18 with 16 seconds to play, Monroe picked off Taylor quarterback Braedon Lawhon and returned the ball 65 yards to clinch Ellison's first win of the year.
Delgado rushed for 84 yards and threw for 135 more to lead the Eagles offense, which ironically, finished with a perfect balance of 135 yards rushing and 135 passing.
n Austin LBJ 30, Ellison 15 At Austin, LBJ receiver/quarterback Terrence Perkins caught two passes for 88 yards and a score. He also hit John Bookman and Desmond Hill with touchdown passes off trick plays to lead the previously winless Jaguars to an upset of Ellison.
For the Eagles (1-4) the loss represented a low point, giving them their ninth loss in 10 games and the 12th in their last 15.
Delgado finished 21-of-45 for 227 yards, but threw an interception to LBJ's Tay Nickerson which he returned 24 yards for a touchdown. Ellison finished with a dismal 16 yards rushing on 23 carries.
n Ellison 13, Lampasas 3 At Buckley, Michael Holloway rushed for 84 yards and Tom Santos booted two field goals to lead Ellison (2-4, 1-0 District 16-4A), which snapped a three-game losing streak to Lampasas with the win.
Entering the contest averaging more than 32 points and 400 yards a game, Lampasas was limited to just 258 yards on the night. On six separate occasions the Badgers had the football inside the Ellison 40, but failed five consecutive times to come away with points after scoring on their second possession.
Rediscovering a running game which was held to just 16 yards at LBJ, the Eagles pounded out 167 yards on 37 carries, including an 83-yard rushing night by Delgado.
n Hewitt Midway 51, Ellison 34 At Hewitt, the lack of a ground attack, turnovers and big plays, proved deadly for the Eagles.
With the loss, the Eagles, who had five turnovers and just 84 yards rushing, fell to 2-5 and 1-1.
Ellison led 10-0 early on and had the opportunity to expand it to 17-0, but Midway's Brian McDaniel intercepted Delgado at the Panther 3 to end the threat.
n Ellison 48, Brownwood 34 At Buckley, Delgado rushed for 139 yards as Ellison (3-5, 2-1) stunned perennial power Brownwood.
Eddie Frazier emerged from the junior varsity ranks to add 129 yards rushing for Ellison, which suddenly became a playoff contender with the win.
Brownwood fell to 2-6 and 1-2 with the loss, but recovered to win its final two games and reach the playoffs.
n Ellison 38, Waco University 28 At Buckley, Frazier rushed for 185 yards and three scores to lead Ellison (4-5, 3-1) which moved into a first-place tie with Midway with the win.
Overcoming four turnovers, Ellison pounded out 322 yards rushing on the night the second straight week the Eagles had rushed for more than 300.
Delgado finished 6-of-12 for a season-low 51 yards passing, but rushed for 128 yards on 20 carries.
n Ellison 16, Killeen 14 At Buckley, facing a fourth-and-3 on the Ellison 17 with 1:30 remaining, Killeen coach Sam Jones opted to go for the first down and was thwarted in the attempt giving the Eagles (5-5, 4-1) their first playoff berth in seven years.
Delgado finished with 93 yards rushing and another 93 yards through the air to lead the Eagles' offense.
The Eagle defense held Killeen to 39 yards rushing on 26 carries.
n Ellison 23, Alvarado 20 At Ennis, Eagle place-kicker Santos hit three of three field goal attempts, including the game-clinching 24-yarder with 4 seconds left to give Ellison a bi-district win over Alvarado.
Faced with a fourth-and-goal at Ellison's 5, Alvarado coach Jeff Dixon elected to forego a potential game-winning kick in lieu of a fake. The pass, thrown by holder David Farmer, was deflected at the line of scrimmage, giving the Eagles (6-5) the ball with less than a minute to play.
Delgado, who hit 15 of 25 passes for 273 yards, hit Bell with a pivotal 55-yard swing pass to set up Santos' game-winner.
n Ellison 38, Corsicana 21 At Waco, Frazier rushed for 147 yards and two scores to lead Ellison (7-5) to an area championship win over Corsicana in Baylor's Floyd Casey Stadium.
Delgado had one of his best games to date, hitting 15 of 19 passes for 163 yards. Bell finished with nine catches for 112 yards.
With the loss, Corsicana finished the season at 8-4.
Contact Evan Ren at firstname.lastname@example.org