Friday’s Class 5A, Region 3 Area round game came down to two plays Angleton has converted countless times this season.
However, it takes one night for those plays not to go a team’s way, and the biggest one came in the fourth quarter.
Angleton trailed 20-13 with 8:48 remaining, facing a second and 1 from the College Station 10-yard line.
Angleton quarterback Adrian Ewells threw to Kariyen Boniaby Goins on the left side of the end zone as the senior bobbled the ball and regained control with cornerback AJ Tisdell all over him. Goins looked to land in the end zone before going out, but the referee ruled him out of bounds to force a third down.
Ewells eventually converted on fourth and 1, but a 1-yard run and three straight incompletions, two of them to Goins on the left side, gave the ball to the Cougars, who eventually came away with a 27-20 win at Cy-Fair FCU Stadium.
“We feel great about Kariyen going against anybody, and the guy covering him is going to Wisconsin. He’s a Division I talent,” Angleton coach Jason Brittain said. “We felt great about that matchup. They were giving us single coverage, and when they do that, we will bet on our kids, and we always bet on our kids.”
The Cougars capitalized on the turnover on downs, marching 91 yards in 4:49, capped by Tony Hamilton rushing it in from 6 yards out, to lead by two scores.
The Wildcats still had time with 2:08 left and 52 yards to pull the game within one score. Six plays later, Ewells ran it in from 3 yards out, and Shaun Neibert’s extra point made it a 27-20 game with 50 seconds left.
However, the Cougars made the final play when running back Aydan Martinez-Brown recovered the onside kick, muscling it away from Ronald Washington to end the game.
“They are ranked No. 10 in the state, we are ranked No. 11, and these playoff games always come down to a few plays,” Brittain said. “They made the plays on third and fourth downs to pick up the first downs, and we had a touchdown called back in the end zone — I don’t know if it was or not.”
The Wildcats (9-3) finished a season that saw them come out on top of the District 10-5A, D-I gauntlet to claim their first district crown since 2017. The season began with a season-opening loss, a change at quarterback, seven consecutive wins and a bidistrict championship for the Wildcats.
Meanwhile, College Station (10-2) advances to the regional tournament to face Georgetown in the quarterfinal round.
“I am so proud of the fight the kids had,” Brittain said. “Football can bring the worst out in you, and it can bring out the best. We had a tough district schedule, and in a lot of those games, we came back and won against good people. It shows you the integrity, toughness and mentality of these kids and coaches have.
“Sometimes, it doesn’t bounce your way, but our coaches and kids left it all out on the field.”
The Wildcats overcame a 17-point deficit in the second quarter and came within 9 yards of tying the game.
After Brown scored on a 14-yard run to make it 20-3 with 7:56 left in the first half, the Wildcats received a boost when Myalek Woods returned the ensuing kick 60 yards to set up shop at College Station’s 32-yard line.
Ewells needed one play to get Angleton back in the game when he found a wide-open Ernest Rodriguez for a 32-yard catch-and-run touchdown to pull within 20-10 with 7:35 remaining before intermission.
The Cougars started their next possession in great field position and were looking to answer Angleton’s score, but Woods intercepted College Station quarterback Arrington Maiden’s pass at the Wildcats’ 4-yard line.
Four plays later, Goins snatched Ewells’ pass with one hand and scamped down the sideline as a part of a 51-yard reception. However, College Station’s defense sacked Ewells on back-to-back plays to end the threat.
College Station kicker Conner Young missed a 40-yard field goal to keep the score at 20-10 at the half.
Angleton’s defense forced back-to-back punts on College Station’s first two drives of the second half, and the second punt eventually yielded points for the Wildcats.
Angleton converted on three third downs and eventually settled for a Neibert 38-yard field goal to pull within one score, 20-13, with 35 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats’ attempted comeback was made possible because of their defense, which forced three punts in the third and opening seconds of the fourth quarter and Woods’ interception to keep points off the board in the second stanza.
“They (College Station) have been running the zone all year, and nobody has been able to stop it, but we did,” Brittain said. “They were able to just make some plays on third down, and we have been great on third downs all year, but they made some plays to help them extend drives.”
Although Brittain showed confidence in his offense, such as the throws to Goins in the end zone in the fourth quarter, the Cougars lucked out instead.
Another example was a fourth-and-2 play in the first quarter from the Wildcats’ 41 when running back Deseahn Thomas was stopped when he took the snap in the wildcat. College Station converted the turnover on downs into points when Maiden scored on a 10-yard touchdown run seven plays later to give the Cougars a 14-3 lead.
“Majority of times this year, those plays have worked out, and this time it didn’t. That’s just the way it goes,” the coach said.
The Wildcats got on the board first on their second offensive drive of the night when Neibert made a 33-yard field goal with 6:44 left in the opening quarter.
College Station then scored 20 unanswered points to grab the largest lead of the night, 20-3.
Thirty seniors played their final game in an Angleton uniform, led by Goins, who finished with 11 catches for 183 yards. The junior Ewells went 19-of-32 passing for 276 yards, one passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown.
“This is an unbelievable senior class as far as leadership,” Brittain said. “I told them after the game that I never had a more fun group of kids to coach. They came to work, and they worked hard every day. They showed up every day wanting to win.”