KILLEEN - It took only two minutes for a year's worth of blood, sweat, tears and hard work to come crashing down for the Glen Rose Tigers on Friday night when they fell to the District 8-3A champion Wimberley Texans 49-44 in the bi-district round of the 3A Division II football playoffs at Leo Buckley Stadium last Friday.
With just over two minutes to play and Glen Rose leading 44-42, junior tailback Chase Evatt ripped off a 37-yard run to the Texan 32-yard line, which appeared to seal the game for Glen Rose.
A holding call brought the run back, however, and gave the Tigers a first-and-20 from their own 21.
On the ensuing play, Evatt struck again on a screen pass for the first down but more dirty laundry brought the play back another five yards.
After a nine-yard scramble by Colt Plaster, the Tigers were 1:55 away from advancing in the playoffs.
Wimberley burned their final timeout after a one-yard pass from Plaster to Ty Taylor on second-and-16.
On third-and-15, head coach Tommy Dunn decided to run a quarterback keeper to make the clock run down before punting it away. In theory this would force the Texans to make a 50-plus yard drive with no timeouts in under a minute.
After the Plaster keeper, however, the head official allowed the clock to stop for roughly 14 seconds.
“It was tough,” said Dunn. “We just tried to keep the clock running as long as possible and the referee made a mistake. When the clock stopped, I asked him why. He told me, 'My mistake, coach. I had a brain fart.'”
The 'brain fart' forced the Tigers to punt the ball with 1:12 on the clock, as opposed to 58 seconds.
The punt traveled to the Texan 45-yard line where the Wimberley returner signaled for a fair catch – with a poorly waved signal that was questionable to a charging Tiger defender. The returner then stumbled forward for about three steps before a Tiger special teamer made the tackle.
The officials marked off a 15-yard penalty against Glen Rose, setting up the Texans on the Tiger 40 with just over a minute to play.
The Tiger defense forced the Texans into a third-and-long, but Wimberley quarterback Brooks Blakemore found his brother Brennan Blakemore on the end of a 12-yard pass for a first down.
After an eight-yard loss, Wimberley was faced with a second-and-18 with 29 seconds left from the Tiger 36.
The Tiger defense read the play and shut down Brooks Blakemore's quick-throw option to Dennis Smith in the flat and forced him out of the pocket.
Blakemore evaded a pair of Tiger tackles and took off running toward the end zone.
Blakemore's right foot appeeared to just barely cross over the out-of-bounds line, but a no call allowed the Wimberley quarterback to score the go-ahead touchdown with 16 ticks on the clock.
The Tiger offense took the field, but with no timeouts, were forced to throw it deep and Plaster was picked off for his only interception of the night. The Texans then kneeled their way into the area round of the playoffs.
Glen Rose led the entire contest until the final 16 seconds.
The Plaster-Taylor connection was in effect all night, beginning on the first play of the second series when the tandem hooked up for an 80-yard touchdown bomb to go on top 6-0.
After Immanuel Morales scooped up a Smith fumble, Tanner Tongate drilled a 39 yard field goal to make it 10-0.
Plaster and Taylor did it again, with the help of good downfield blocking from the offensive line, when Taylor took a screen pass in from 42 yards deep for a 16-0 lead.
Wimberley finally got on the board with a run from Smith, but it was matched by a one-yard keeper by Plaster to maintain the 16-point lead.
The Texans then scored 14 unanswered to bring the Tiger lead to two at 23-21.
Just before the half, Plaster hit Taylor with a pass, and after a pair of pitches, the ball ended up in the arms of Dylan Rodriguez for a 36-yard touchdown to take a nine-point lead into the half.
A Smith touchdown for the Texans and a 72-yard circus catch by Rodriguez right out of the break made it 37-28 in the third quarter.
Glen Rose posted its final score when Rodriguez took a screen pass 26 yards to the house.
But Wimberley would not be denied with a seven yard touchdown, to pull within striking distance, and the questionable game-winning run in the final minute.
Wimberley advances to face Iowa Park in the second round.
Plaster threw for 515 yards on 26-33 passing with four touchdowns and the lone pick.
Taylor snatched 223 yards and two scores in his final game with Glen Rose, while Rodriguez had a pair of touchdown catches for 98 yards.
“We got better and improved every week,” said Dunn. “During the last part of the season we were unstoppable, especially through the air. Everything came together for us.”
Plaster also led the team with 48 yards rushing.
Collin Lane and Beto Hernandez led the defense with 13 and 12 tackles, respectively.
Glen Rose finished the 2009 season with a record of 7-4 and will lose key seniors, including Plaster, Taylor, DJ Figueroa, Hunter Ratliff, Seth Mann, Shelby Junge and Reagan Rotan as well as many others.
“The hardest thing is seeing these kids go,” said defensive coordinator Todd Swearengin. “They've worked their butts off since ninth grade (Swearengin came to Glen Rose when the current seniors were freshmen). They've been a joy to be around.”
Dunn said the team will hit the weight room with very little downtime and begin rebuilding for next season.
“I told those young guys to model themselves after these seniors,” said Dunn. “They were a great group, worked hard, studied film and were up here working hard in the off-season and over the summer.”