“We’re playing football in December!”
Those were the excitable words of Cubs’ Head Coach Glen West, after the Cubs upset the seemingly unbeatable Texas City Stingarees in the semifinals of the Region III/4A Division II playoffs, Friday night at The Berry Center.
The Cubs (12-1) unleashed a completely new offensive attack as they came back from an 11-point deficit to beat the Stingarees, 37-34.
Texas City’s defense shut down the powerful Cubs’ rushing game as they jumped out to a 14-10 halftime lead, holding the Cubs to just 20 yards rushing in the first half.
The Stingarees (12-1) extended the lead to 21-10 after a 64-yard touchdown run by D’Onta Foreman less than a minute into the third quarter.
That’s when the Cubs became a passing team, jumping on the back of junior quarterback Caleb Hill, as the Cubs ran off the next 20 points.
“Our coaching staff did one heck of a job--offensively and defensively”, Coach West told KWHI’s Kyle Van Hook after the game. “Offensively, we could not run the ball on them, and realized we had to throw the ball and Caleb did a tremendous job.”
On the next possession, Hill, who was 8-of-14 for 79 yards in the first half, hit three consecutive passes: 42 yards to Courtland Sutton, 15 yards to James Homan and a 10-yard touchdown pass to Sutton, cutting the lead to 21-17.
Hill then led the Cubs on a 12-play 82-yard drive, ending with a 12-yard scoring pass to Homan, giving the Cubs a 24-21 lead.
After a Ryan Nunn fumble recovery, Hill hit Homan (11 receptions, 174 yards) with a 35-yard pass to the eight-yard line. Two plays later, sophomore running back Jordan Graves powered in from two yards out, extending the Cubs lead to 31-21.
Five minutes later, Graves added his second touchdown run—a 1-yard plunge—to lengthen the Cubs’ lead to 37-21 with 9:31 left in the game.
Texas city stormed back as D’Onta Foreman ran for gains of 10, 13, and 8 yards, leading to his twin brother Armanti Foreman’s 31-yard touchdown reception.
After the Stingarees blocked a Cubs’ punt, quarterback Andrew Allen hit receiver Tres Rodriguez with an 8-yard pass, cutting the lead to 37-34, with 3:38 left.
Just seconds later, Texas City seemingly had everything going their way with an interception that set them up inside the Cubs 40—but a flag for roughing the passer wiped out the pickoff and allowed the cubs to run a couple more minutes off the clock.
The Stingarees had one more shot left, but after three incomplete passes, a Desmond Lockett interception put the exclamation point on a remarkable Cubs’ win.
“Most of the credit has to go to the kids”, said coach West. “We told them going in, ‘we just want to stay close, and worry about winning the game at the end of the game. Just keep looking at each other and keep saying “we’re going to win it…we’re going to win it.”
Hill finished the night completing 22-of-30 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns.
The Stingarees held potent running back Earnest Patterson to 61 yards on 24 carries, but the rest of the offense picked the team up.
“A lot of credit goes to our coaches (offensive coordinator) Tim Oehrlein, Mike Adams, Brian Harris, Chase Wheaton, Chad Lechler and Ryan Cook—they have been working day and night on that (the offensive gameplan) and it worked!”
The Cubs took the early lead, 7-0 in the first quarter after Patterson ran it in from two yards out, following a fumble recovery by Taylon Shepherd.
But a one-yard run by Andrew Allen and an 80-yard pick-six by Zach Powell had Texas City in front, 14-7.
Tien Pham drew the Cubs to within four at the half with a 38-yard field goal with :20 left in the second quarter.
The Cubs will next face George Ranch in the Region Final, next Saturday at 1:00 at Tully Stadium in Houston.
The game can be heard live on KWHI beginning at 12:00.