CROCKETT — Down 44-27 at halftime, Normangee head football coach Keith Sitton knew his team just needed to keep up with San Augustine until they could find a stop to pull off an upset in the Class 2A Division I Area Round.
The offense kept scoring, but the stop never came, as San Augustine remained unbeaten with a 84-46 game that was much more entertaining and much closer than the score indicated.
The Panthers (6-7) unleashed every trick they had in the playbook, jumping out to early leads of 6-0 and 13-6, against a San Augustine team that had only trailed in two games all season prior to Friday. Normangee attempted onside kicks until well into the second half, recovering the opening kickoff and marching down the field for a 1-yard score by Izaha Jones out of the Wildcat formation. A Mason Hardy touchdown run retook the lead for Normangee with just under five minutes left in the first quarter.
The Wolves (12-0) only ran one of the first 20 plays of the game, but once they possessed the ball, they didn’t stop scoring.
San Augustine scored touchdowns on their first 12 possessions, only failing to score when kneeling the ball at the end of the game. The Wolves had 11 plays of at least 20 yards, including four touchdowns that covered 40 or more yards.
The Panther offense kept pace, posting 524 yards of total offense and scoring seven touchdowns of their own. Panther quarterback Mason Hardy had 474 yards of total offense, with five total touchdowns, picking up much of his 202 rushing yards by fighting for extra yards after contact and slipping out the the grasp of defenders.
Normangee came out of halftime inspired, scoring on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Hardy to Luke Yellott, who had 143 receiving yards to cut the deficit to 11. It looked as if Normangee recovered its third onside kick of the day, and would have a chance to make it a one-score game, but the recovery was erased by penalty.
Neither team found a stop in the third quarter, as the sides traded touchdowns in a game that featured over 1,100 yards of total offense. Only down 12 points entering the fourth, Normangee could not find any more points and San Augustine pulled away.
The Wolves’ rushing tandem of Kevorian Barnes, who had 321 yards and six touchdowns and Tijay Thomas-Davis, who added 143 yards and three scores, helped San Augustine to 526 yards on the ground.
“I thought our kids played about as hard, as gritty and as determined as they could play,” Sitton said. “At the end, we just ran out of gas.”