POST — After Post quarterback Pake Jones took a knee with just under 30 seconds left, he flipped the ball to a referee just as he would after any other play.
The referee handed the ball back to Jones. The quarterback might want to hang on to that piece of Antelope history.
Jones’ knee in the Victory formation ended a 21-14 Post win against Abernathy, giving the Bold Gold football 21-14 win at Jimmie Redman Memorial Stadium and the District 2-2A, Division II championship — the first Post district title since 2004.
“It felt amazing,” Jones said about the end of the game. “All that hard work paying off. It means a lot, it’s all that hard work we put in during the offseason. Our JV, our scout team was just making it better.”
Post has undergone one of the biggest turnarounds in the state, building off last season’s 2-8 year under first-year coach Steve Smith to an impressive 9-1, 5-0 in district.
Although Post and Abernathy (8-2, 4-1) both were in the playoffs before Friday’s game, Post battled its way to a district championship and bye week behind a strong running game and opportunistic defense.
“It’s awesome,” said Smith, who came to Post after seven years at Archer City. “I’ve coached a lot of playoff games and won a lot, but this one may be the biggest one ever. It’s just validation for the program, to come in there and see the kids to do this, work hard, do things right and trust us. This was a result of it.”
Abernathy turned the ball over five times, leading to 10 precious points in a game that saw both offenses struggle to move the football.
Post took a 13-0 lead into the half thanks to a pair of Aaron Lopez field goals (23 and 48 yards) and a D.J. Brown fumble recovery in the end zone after Jones dashed 39 yards to the 2 and fumbled the ball into the end zone.
After a pair of botched Post punt attempts in the third quarter — including one that Baylor Smith took 15 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 13-7 — the Post defense came up big on one of three lost Abernathy fumbles.
Abernathy quarterback Garrett Royal fumbled the ball inside the Post 2, with Paden Babb alertly falling on the ball. Five plays later, fullback Bryan Smith had two consecutive 23-yard runs, the second one finishing in the end zone to finish the Post scoring.
Abernathy added its final score on a 6-yard Royal to Cassius Cunningham pass with 1:56 left, but the Post running attack finished off defending district champ Abernathy.
“Post played better than we did,” Abernathy coach Darrell Daily said. “When we had chances, we’re down on the 1-foot line and we drop a snap. Things just didn’t go right for us tonight.”
Post also had a handful of turnovers: three lost fumbles and an interception.
Post has gone behind in most of its games this season, so it is used to fighting through adversity.
“We’ve done it all season,” Smith said. “We’re used to fighting back — Just no quit.”
Smith had 31 yards rushing (although the two punt mistakes ate into that total), and Jones rushed for 91 yards. Brown was the workhorse on Friday, carrying 20 times for 165 yards. Brown had a 68-yard run that set up the first Lopez field goal, and a 17-yard run that set up Post within Lopez’s range with six seconds left in the half.
Abernathy struggled to get much going offensively, with Royal finishing 5-for-21 with two interceptions and 129 yards. He also led Abernathy with 51 yards rushing, mostly scrambling as Abernathy had trouble running up the middle with running back Tyler Cooper.
Cooper finished with 16 carries for 42 yards.
The loss gives Abernathy the No. 2 seed in the district and a first-round match against Spearman.
“We’ve won eight games, we’re 8-2,” Daily said. “Hopefully this stung a little bit tonight, but we’ll prepare just like we always have, and we’ll get after Spearman next week.”
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POST 21, ABERNATHY 14
Abernathy 0 0 7 7 — 14
Post 3 10 8 0 — 21
POST — Aaron Lopez 23 FG; 2:57
POST — D.J. Brown fumble recovery in end zone (Lopez kick); 11:47 POST — Lopez 48 FG; 01 Third Quarter ABE — Baylor Smith 15 fumble return (Zach Tovar kick); 8:25 POST — Bryan Smith 23 run (Brown pass to Paden Babb); 1:58 Fourth Quarter ABE — Cassius Cunningham 6 pass from Garrett Royal (Tovar kick); 1:56
First downs 11 12
Rushes-yards 37-115 44-280
Passing yards 129 8
Comp.-att.-int. 5-22-2 1-4-1
Punts-avg. 2-42 4-95
Fumbles-lost 4-3 5-3
Penalties-yards 2-5 6-35
RUSHING: Abernathy, Garrett Royal 16-51, Tyler Cooper 16-42, Cassius Cunningham 1-6, A.B. Cantu 3-2, Aaron Rosas 1-(-14); Post, D.J. Brown 20-165, Pake Jones 9-91, Bryan Smith 12-31, Dalton Holly 2-(-5), Team 1-(-2).
PASSING: Abernathy, Royal 5-21-2—129, Clayton Lewis 0-1-0—0; Post, Jones 1-4-1—8.
RECEIVING: Abernathy, Cunningham 1-48, Nate Horne 1-35, Lewis 2-31, Baylor Smith 1-13; Post, Holly 1-8.