Senior Analyst, TheOldCoach.com
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CLEBURNE - It's been an odd season for the Everman Bulldogs as they've battled through a lot of obstacles and adversity in 2011. Factor that in with a visit to venerable Yellow Jacket Stadium in Cleburne where strange things always seem to happen and throw in the Halloween vibe for good measure and it gives you an example of the kind of game fans were treated to Friday night in downtown Cleburne.
After missing a 32 yard field goal to win the game in regulation, Everman senior kicker Daniel Cruz kicked the game winning extra point in overtime as Everman (5-3, 4-2) knocked off the Cleburne Yellow Jackets (4-5, 3-3) 35-34 in a District 7-4A thriller. Everman senior running back Devin Walker scored from one yard out on Everman's possession in overtime to set up Cruz's winning try. Earlier in the overtime Cleburne would score on a two yard run by Quade Coward, but the point after try was missed and that miss gave Everman the winning margin.
Everman got a big game from senior Horace Richardson who ran for 87 yards on just eight carries and he hauled in a 24 yard touchdown pass from Devynn Birdow. Andy Anderson ran for 110 tough yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns to pace a balanced Cleburne attack.
Cleburne would jump out to a quick 7-0 lead after a good kickoff return out past midfield set up CHS in outstanding field position. Coward would cap the drive 10 plays later on a one yard scoring run. Everman would answer quickly moving the ball down the field behind sophomore RB Reggie Kincaid who was called up from the JV this week, Kinkaid would finish with 18 carries and 83 yards in his varsity debut. The drive would be capped by a 28 yard field goal by Cruz cutting the edge to 7-3 for Cleburne.
Everman would take a 9-7 lead early in the second quarter as Richardson scored on a five yard run, the PAT however was blocked by Cleburne's Conner Martyniuk, it was Martyniuk's eight kick block of the year which could possibly be a state record. The theme of Martyniuk blocking kicks would be repeated later on in the game. After an exchange of punts and an interception by Cleburne, Everman would extend the lead to 15-7 at the half as Richardson would haul in a 24 yard scoring pass from Birdow. The PAT was partially blocked, by guess who…Martyniuk for Cleburne and at the half the Bulldogs led 15-7.
Everman would take the opening kick of the second half and immediately march down the field, this time scoring on a one yard run by Kincaid to make it 21-7 Bulldogs. Cleburne appeared to be on the ropes as they were facing a 2nd and 24 from their own 24, but Coward hooked up with WR Cooper Walls for sixty yard pass down to the Everman 16 and from that point on the game was a shootout. CHS would cap the drive a few plays later on a one yard plunge by Anderson making it 21-14 Everman.
Everman's offense would hit a lull late in the third as they fumbled and threw an interception on their next two drives. The interception set Cleburne up deep in Everman territory, but the Bulldogs defense held Cleburne on downs inside their ten to start the fourth and keep the lead at 21-14. After taking over on downs deep in their own territory the Bulldogs were unable to move the ball and went three and out. On the punt however, that man appeared once again for Cleburne as Conner Martyniukblocked the punt giving Cleburne the ball back on the Everman eleven. Martyniuk would get it done on offense to cap this drive as he cut the Everman lead to 21-20 with a seven yard pass from Coward, the PAT was no good however and Everman held their one point edge. Everman would answer with a big time drive of their own scoring with 3:53 remaining on a 3rd and 18 play Birdow hooked up with Quantence Walker for a 35 yard touchdown pass, the PAT was good and Everman led 28-20.
Cleburne would have an answer as they'd get a 39 yard touchdown run from Anderson on fourth and one to make the score 28-26 with 1:59 left, Cleburne benefitted from a key facemask penalty on Everman that negated a loss on a running play. The two point try was successful after the touchdown as German Hernandez made a leaping grab in the end zone from quarterback Quade Coward to tie the game up at 28. That would set up the events in overtime, where Everman escaped with just their third ever win in Cleburne.
Neither team has clinched a playoff spot in what has turned out to be a wacky playoff race in 7-4A, Everman can wrap up their 13th straight trip to the playoffs next week with a win at home against winless Joshua. Cleburne will visit Arlington Seguin next Friday, Cleburne will need a win and a little help to get into the playoffs.