SAN MARCOS -- Just call the Pilot Point Bearcats a team of destiny.
The Bearcats came into Saturday's Class 2A Division I state championship game with fate and emotion on their side. It showed early and often as Pilot Point claimed its third state title, the first since 1981, with a 35-18 win over Kirbyville at Texas State University's Bobcat Stadium.
The win capped Pilot Point's season with a perfect 15-0 record while it was the second year in a row that Kirbyville (12-3) fell short in the state title game.
"I am so proud of our football team. This is something we have been working for since we got beat in the semifinals last year against Muleshoe," Pilot Point head coach Blake Feldt said. "It's just unbelievable what they have done and I can't tell you how proud I am of this football team. It really was a storybook season."
It was also a fitting end for Pilot Point senior running back Jarman Johnson, a young man, who along with his brother Willie Davis, had to deal with the loss of his father three weeks ago. Their father's last request was for the Bearcats to win a state title, one which Johnson helped fulfill with an outstanding effort against Kirbyville. Johnson scored four touchdowns and rushed for 242 yards on 37 carries in the victory.
"This one was for my dad up there," Johnson said pointing to the sky. "He told us to go out and win state for him and we did it. Not just me, the whole entire team did this for him."
The contest featured two of the state's top 2A running backs in Johnson and Kirbyville junior LaFredrick Ford as both combined for 500 yards on the ground.
Ford racked up 276 yards on 32 carries but it was Johnson's ability to pound the ball into the end zone with four touchdowns that put the Bearcats on top.
"Jarman Johnson, what else can you say about him? He has been tremendous all year long and was unbelievable tonight," Feldt said.
Luck was on Pilot Point's side early on as the Bearcats jumped out to a quick lead by scoring on their first possession and taking advantage of an early Kirbyville turnover.
The Bearcats capped a quick, six-play drive with Johnson's 43-yard touchdown three minutes into the game.
Pilot Point got a huge gift on Kirbyville's first play from scrimmage when Ford coughed up the ball and Justin Chambers recovered. Six plays later the Bearcats were on the board again as Seth Tilley carried the ball in on a four-yard play-action keeper that gave Pilot Point a 14-0 lead.
"I was really proud of the way we played today and how we got after it from the get-go," Feldt said.
Kirbyville put itself back into the game immediately following the ensuing kickoff when Ford scored on a 42-yard run. The Wildcats tried for two when holder Justin Keen picked up the ball and rolled out to pass, but he was wrapped up by Mason Guthrie behind the line of scrimmage, allowing the Bearcats to hold a 14-6 lead with 6:33 remaining in the quarter.
Kirbyville turned up the drama when the Wildcats scored early in the second quarter as Ford escaped for a 14-yard tally, capping a six-play, 83-yard drive.
But the Wildcats' attempt for two was snuffed out by Jeremy Jackson, who brought down Kirbyville quarterback Kael Jones at the three-yard line with 8:08 left in the half.
Johnson then had 11 carries on a 13-play drive, which ended with his one-yard touchdown to the Bearcats a 21-12 half-time.
Kirbyville scored on the opening drive of the third quarter on a three-yard run from Ford. But Wildcat kicker Matt Russell's shot was off the mark, allowing the Bearcats to hold on to a 21-18 lead.
Pilot Point answered with another touchdown from Johnson, this one from three yards out, and his fourth score -- a 20-yarder -- sealed the deal with 6:57 remaining.
Pilot Point came through when needed with two goal-line stands. The first was in the closing seconds of the first half with the latter coming late in the fourth.
"We played well all year, but it really seems like we stepped it up a notch this last month and through the playoffs," Feldt said. "I just can't say enough about this football team and what they have accomplished this year."