STORY BY: BOB WRIGHT
THE WOODLANDS — A&M Consolidated didn’t completely shut down Klein’s 1,000-yard-plus rushing duo, but the Tigers slowed ‘em down enough while playing smash-mouth defense and cashing in on a couple of fumbles to advance to the Area Playoff round next week against Austin Westlake.
Coach David Raffield’s Tigers defeated Westlake this season in non-district action. Sometime it’s tough to get past the same club twice in the same season, but you can bet your pigskin that Raffield and staff are mindful of this and will spend a few days warily setting the trap for the Chaparrals when it counts in the Area round of playoffs. That opportunity comes next Friday afternoon at 1 o’clock on the turf of Waco ISD’s Stadium.
A&M Consolidated earned the right to stay in the playoffs with a 42-24 victory over Klein. The win pushed the Tiger record to 9-2 for the season, in which Consol shares the District 14-5A Championship with Lufkin and The Woodlands. Consol defeated The Woodlands, but lost to Lufkin, enroute to a 4-1 mark in district. Klein dropped to 6-5, including a 5-3 record in District 13-5A.
The Tigers might have preferred a return visit to Shenandoah in the Woodlands (Conroe ISD), since three visits to Woodforest Bank Stadium have resulted in three victories this year for Consolidated. However, the stadium inWacois a fine venue and Consol will be prepared to advance even further into the 5A state playoffs with another win over Westlake.
Friday night against Klein, the super quick Bearkat runners David Hamm and Othello Gibson had some good runs, but the tough Consol defense got in some heavy licks against the Klein club. The Tiger defense was outstanding except for a couple of chinks in the secondary armor on three occasions. However, some big hits by the Tiger D came from D.J. Jackson (scooped up a fumble and sped in from 28 yards out for a touchdown with 6:08 remaining in the second period), Cory Harris, Jimmie Gilbert, Josh Hailey, Danny Ochoa and Coleman Dennis. Linebackers Kyle Chism and Michael Clouston many times stopped the Klein offense dead in its tracks.
Also in with notable plays for the Tiger D were Randy Whited, Corey Stoll, Jalyn Williams (also in the linebacking corps) and Riley Garner.
In addition to Jackson’s fumble recovery and subsequent score, the other Klein turnover led to another TD. With 5:02 left in the game, Jimmie Gilbert recovered a Bearkat fumble at the Klein 20. The Tigers didn’t mess around, converting that bobble into another touchdown on the first play. This time it was Brandon Jackson who went the distance for the payoff. Dillon Moore was perfect on his extra-point kicks.
The third and final fumble for Klein came in the fourth quarter at the 3:24 mark when D.J. Jackson recovered at the Consol 29. It was his second recovery of the cool, crisp evening.
Consol struck first after winning the toss and electing to receive. The Tigers scored on that first possession, completing a 65-yard drive with 8:54 to go in the quarter when quarterback Weston Garner hit Kerry Thomas on a 15-yard pass. Moore kicked the point.
The only turnover of the evening for the Tigers was a fumble at the Consol 34. It proved to be the catalyst for a Bearkat score on a five-yard run by Othello Gibson with a minute and 46 seconds remaining in the opening period. The score came on the fifth play of the drive. Kyle Pfau booted the extra point.
The first-quarter score was knotted at 7-7 and the halftime score was deadlocked 21-21. Consol took the lead for good in the third quarter, which ended 28-21.
The Tigers used a duo of quarterbacks, with Weston Garner getting the starting call, but with fine backup by Gus Miller. Both drilled some good passes to some excellent receivers – Tyler Spaw, Daniel Hulse, Kerry Thomas, Derrick Dick, Josch Motley and Josh Stewart.
After Klein had tied the score 7-7, then went ahead 14-7, on the ensuing kickoff, the Tigers got a big return from Kerry Thomas, using that as a springboard for another score in the second period. First, Gus Miller hit Hulse on a 15-yard aerial before Brandon Jackson broke for seven yards. Garner then drilled a pass to Xavier Jones for 14 yards to the four. Jones then legged it over from the four as Consol tied it 14-14 at the 7:08 mark in the second quarter. It culminated an eight-play, 53-yard march.
Then came the D.J. Jackson recovery returned for a TD as Consol went ahead 21-14.
Klein jumped in front before halftime on an 89-yard drive with seconds remaining as David Hamm zipped in from the Consol eight.
In the the third quarter, the Tigers went ahead to stay after a fourth-down gamble backfired on the Bearkats. The punter tried to run for a first on a fourth-and-one. The Tiger defense stuffed him at the Bearkat 26. QB Gus Miller hit Tyler Spaw with a nine-yarder then roared down to the 14 on a keeper. Garner then connected with Derrick Dick on the next play for the score.Mooreagain kicked the extra point, putting Consol up 28-21.
Consol, on its ensuing possession. got a 15-yard gain on a pass from Garner to Kerry Thomas. After the drive stalled, Moore missed a 41-yard field goal.
Klein pulled to within 28-24 on a 22-yard field goal by Pfau one minute and six seconds into the final period.
Derrick Dick, back into Wildcat formation, sped to his right and right into the end zone from the four with 6:39 left, pushing the Consol lead to 35-24 on a 10-play, 68-yard drive.
At the 4:55 mark, Consol put it away after getting a fumble (the second recovery by D.J. Jackson). One play was all that was needed as Brandon Jackson shot up the middle for the score from the Klein 22.