ROCKDALE — Facing fourth-and-1 in overtime, Bremond football coach Jeff Kasowski called on No. 9 like he had the entire second half.
Senior running back JT Anthony got the yard the Tigers needed, then on the next play went 20 yards for his fifth touchdown of the night, sending Bremond to a 41-35 victory over No. 6 Flatonia in a Class 2A Division II regional playoff game Friday at Tiger Stadium.
FINALBremond 41, Flatonia 35JT Anthony goes around right end for his fifth TD of the game to send Bremond into the state quarterfinals.Tigers will face Falls City. See the game-winner 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/kRiUkFDQWH— Jeff Perkins (@JPerkins_Eagle) November 30, 2019
The two carries were the 36th and 37th of the night for Anthony, who rushed for 249 yards and scored all of his touchdowns after halftime to help the Tigers reach the state quarterfinals. Bremond (12-1) will play top-ranked Falls City (12-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at The Pfield in Pflugerville.
Bremond’s Chase Brewer intercepted Flatonia quarterback Juan Netro on fourth down to set up Anthony’s heroics.
“I told Coach [Kasowski], ‘Put the ball in my hands, and I’m gonna get it for us,’” Anthony said. “I was excited [when I hit the sideline]. Best feeling there is.”
The fourth-and-1 was one of four fourth downs the Tigers converted in the fourth quarter and overtime in rallying from a 20-7 halftime deficit.
Junior quarterback Seth Kasowski found senior receiver Casey Garrett to convert the first three. The duo connected for plays of 12 and 6 yards on a pair of fourth-and-5s on the first drive of the fourth quarter, which Anthony capped with a 9-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 28.
The third conversion was the most improbable as the Tigers dialed up a double-reverse pass with Garrett pitching the ball back to Kasowski and running wide open on the right sideline for a 21-yard gain on fourth-and-11. The trick play got Bremond to the Flatonia 23-yard line with just over 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter, and Anthony later punched it in from a yard out to knot the game at 35 with 36 seconds left.
The three fourth-down catches accounted for all of Garrett’s receptions. Kasowski threw for 151 yards on 16-of-24 passing, and Dalton Wilganowski caught seven passes for 72 yards.
The Tigers also got out of another tight spot earlier in the final drive of the fourth quarter when a Flatonia defender drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing with a referee after he thought he had intercepted a Kasowski pass on a third-and-6.
“Players make plays, and it just tells you the kind of want-to these kids have,” Jeff Kasowski said. “We just don’t have any quit in us. Down 20-7 at halftime, we made some corrections, but mostly the kids came out and just won the dang football game.”
The Bulldogs (11-2) also had a dominant performance on the ground, led by Chris Johnston, who had 13 carries for 181 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His 57-yard touchdown run gave Flatonia a 28-21 lead late in the third quarter. Flatonia’s Erek Herrera later took a tight end reverse for a 32-yard touchdown to retake the lead at 35-28 with 5:02 left in regulation.
Flatonia rushed for 295 yards on 32 carries, but Bremond made several key plays to help turn the tide in the second half. Bremond took advantage of a Flatonia false start penalty to force a three-and-out to start the second half, and Anthony later scored on a 39-yard run to inch the Tigers to within 20-14. Anthony then stripped the ball from Johnston on the ensuing drive with Kasowski recovering it at the Bremond 25. Anthony gave Bremond a 21-20 lead on a 9-yard TD run.
“I knew I had to get the ball back,” Anthony said, “so I went in and stripped the ball, and we got the ball back. It did good things for us.”
The Bulldogs recovered a surprise onside kick to open the game and marched down the field for a 7-0 lead, capped by a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Netro.
The Tigers’ offense sputtered in the first quarter, and Flatonia took advantage as Netro hit a wide open Ricardo Olivares for a 40-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 14-0 late in the first.
Bremond found some room to run in the second quarter, putting together a six-play, 60-yard drive — all on the ground — to cut the lead to 14-7 with 6:17 left in the second. Anthony jump-started the series with a 36-yard run, and Kasowski finished it by beating a Flatonia defender to the edge and scrambling for a 10-yard touchdown.
But the Bulldogs answered with a hard-hitting run game of their own as Johnston took a handoff on third-and-4 for a 49-yard touchdown to push the lead to 20-7 with 3:31 left in the half. The Tigers avoided disaster after Flatonia recovered another onside kick as Cory Estrada recovered a fumbled snap in the red zone with 10 seconds left.