WOODROW — The Colorado Wolves struck twice in the final 20 seconds to stun Abernathy 28-14 on Saturday night to move on to the Region I-2A, Division II, final.
With Antelopes holding a 14-13 lead in the fourth quarter, Abernathy’s Kyle Mills intercepted Colorado quarterback Mark Henderson at the Wolves’ 45-yard-line to give Abernathy a chance to add some insurance points.
The Antelopes marched all the way to the 13-yard line, but the Wolves made a critical fourth-down stop to keep the game within reach. Down by one with the final minutes ticking away, Colorado needed to drive the length of the field to have a chance.
Despite only gaining one first down in the half until that point, the Wolves proved to be up to the challenge.
Henderson executed the two-minute drill with precision, spreading the ball around and using a speedy offense to keep Abernathy on its heels. Henderson and Gustavo Silva got in sync at the end of the drive when Silva’s only two catches of the day became the go-ahead touchdown and two-point conversion for the Wolves.
“We’ve worked that two-minute drill just about every day since August,” Colorado coach Frank Johnson said. “The kids executed it perfectly.”
With 17 seconds remaining, Abernathy had one chance to come back. On the Antelopes’ first play, Colorado’s Josh Sutton jumped a route to intercept Antelope quarterback Nic Clarkson and took the ball into the end zone, sealing the game for the Wolves.
“With a few seconds left, they tried to take a shot down the field. I just read the flats perfectly, picked it off and ran it in,” Sutton said.
The touchdown was Sutton’s second pick of the night.
The Wolves move on the quarterfinals next weekend, where they will face Sonora, who defeated Canadian on Saturday, 24-14. The game will take place on Saturday in San Angelo at a time to be determined.
Abernathy will have to look forward to next year after being eliminated.
“The kids played hard. Colorado City though, you’ve got to give them credit. They won the game,” Abernathy coach Darrell Daily said.
The victory marked the most playoff wins in a season in Colorado history.
Before the final two minutes, though, the game seemed to be in Abernathy’s control.
The teams pummeled each other in the first half, each limiting the other to a single touchdown. The second half looked to be more of the same after multiple three-and-outs from both sides, but the Wolves managed to gain some momentum at the end of the third quarter.
After sacking Clarkson and recovering the ensuing fumble, Colorado grabbed its first lead of the night after Trinnon Jackson turned a screen pass into a 46-yard gain. A short Nathan Jackson run later, the Wolves were in the lead, but a missed extra point opened the door for the Abernathy to respond.
The Antelopes struck back quickly after Colorado botched a snap on a punt and left Abernathy with a first-and-goal on the 8-yard line. Clarkson, who was forced into action after starter Garrett Royal left in the second quarter with a rib injury, found Kevin Carlisle in the end zone to tie the score.
One extra point later, the Antelopes led the Wolves 14-13 with 6:30 remaining to set up the thrilling ending.
“Something we always talk about is keep the game close,” Johnson said, “and we have a chance to win it.”
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ABERNATHY 14, COLORADO CITY 28
Abernathy 7 0 0 7 — 14
Colorado 0 7 6 15 — 28
ABE — Tyler Cooper 1 run (Zach Tovar kick); 4:35
COL — Jonathan Jackson 16 pass from Mark Henderson (Corbin Castillo kick); 5:46
COL — Nathan Jackson 1 run (kick failed); 0:23
ABE — Kevin Carlisle 6 pass from Nic Clarkson (Tovar kick); 6:30
COL — Gustavo Silva 3 pass from Henderson (Silva pass from Henderson); 0:17
COL — Josh Sutton interception return (Castillo kick); 0:02
First downs 14 10
Rushes-yards 48-264 22-68
Passing yards 61 189
Comp.-att.-int. 5-10-2 13-25-1
Punts-avg. 2-33.5 4-38
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-2
Penalties-yards 3-30 5-35
RUSHING: Abernathy, Garrett Royal 9-115, Tyler Cooper 24-88, Nic Clarkson 13-49, Cassius Cunningham 1-13, AB Cantu 1-(-1); Colorado, Nathan Jackson 14-42, Josh Sutton 1-20, Mark Henderson 6-5, David Sanchez 1-1.
PASSING: Abernathy, Clarkson, 3-7-1—35, Royal 2-3-0—26; Colorado, Henderson 13-25-2—189.
RECEIVING: Abernathy, Clayton Lewis 3-50, Kevin Carlisle 1-6, Cantu 1-5; Colorado, Jonathan Jackson 4-84, Trinnon Jackson 1-46, Corbin Castillo 3-45, N. Jackson 2-6, Gustavo Silva 2-5, Chris Alaniz 1-3.