FORT WORTH — The monkey of last year’s first-round playoff loss to Vernon is now off the backs of the Glen Rose Tigers.
The Tigers broke open a close game with three touchdowns in the second quarter to win the Class 4A Div. II bi-district championship with a 49-28 victory over the Aubrey Chaparrals on Friday at Brewer High School.
“That’s been on everybody’s mind. We were 9-1 last year and lost in the first round, and we were 8-1 this year. These guys had a great week of preparation,” Glen Rose football coach Cliff Watkins said. “Now, the team with the best record doesn’t always win. It’s whoever is playing the best that day. We had guys step up and make plays. We were the better team tonight.”
With their seventh consecutive win, the District 4-4A champion Tigers will meet Dalhart on Friday at 7 p.m. at Vernon High School. The Wolves (7-4) beat Snyder 26-7 on Friday night to earn a meeting with the Tigers.
The Wolves, who finished 2-2 in District 2-4A, have won two straight games and five of their last seven.
In the win over the Chaps, Glen Rose quarterback Cameron Griffin completed 9 of 23 passes for 199 yards and three scores while rushing for 178 on 13 carries and a touchdown. Running back Westen Halcolm also went over the century mark with 143 yards on 15 carries for three TDs (two rushing, one receiving).
“We knew they had a really good defensive line,” Watkins said. “They are big and strong and they got to us a little bit. I thought our offensive line did a good job overall, and Westen ran hard again, and receivers got open and Cameron made the plays he needed to make.”
Defensively, Ricky Douglas piled up a team-best 21 stops, and Davis Shackelford added 14. Austin Worthen and Braylen Meador added 11 each, and River Costello and Bryan Pounds had 10 and nine tackles, respectively.
“We knew they were going to line up and mash us,” Watkins said. “They are good at what they do. We tried some different things, and there were some things where they were getting us, and other things we’d get at them.”
The Tigers turned the ball over on downs on the opening drive, and Aubrey answered with a 10-play scoring drive to lead 7-0.
Glen Rose got on the board when Halcom scored on a 10-yard run with 4:25 left in the first quarter, but the PAT failed and Aubrey led 7-6.
On the Chaps’ next possession, Meador stood up an Aubrey ball carrier on fourth down to stop the drive, and on the Tigers’ first play, Griffin connected with Teddy Starnes for a 61-yard scoring strike. The two-point conversion made it 14-7 Glen Rose.
Aubrey tied it at 14 with a score, and after some trickeration with receiver Worthen hitting Shackelford with a 40-yard score, the Chaps tied it again at 21 with a 75-yard run on the first play from scrimmage after the kickoff.
The Tigers, who are averaging more than 500 yards of total offense a game, finally pulled away with two big scores late in the second quarter. The first came on a 37-yard pitch run from Halcom, and the second was a 40-yard pass from Griffin to Worthen on the first play after the Tigers recovered a fumbled Chaps punt.
The Tigers took the 35-21 lead into the break.
“Anytime you play a wing-T offense you know it’s going to be hard to get stops. We found a way to get enough. We knew if we could get a lead early it would work in our favor, but they kept fighting and kept it close,” Watkins said. “They started throwing it a little bit more (after GR took the lead) because they had to hurry up to catch up, and that went in our favor.”
The Chaps (3-8) cut the lead to 35-28 with 6:53 left in the third. Griffin later added a 6-yard run, and for good measure, Halcom added six more on a 32-yard pass from Griffin.
Glen Rose tallied 560 yards total offense (239 pass, 321 rush).
“We found a way to win. We had some things that went our way and didn’t go our way, but this time of year you have to find a way to win and move on,” Watkins said. “We’re happy to get the first one under our belt. I thought we got after it and kept fighting and fighting.”