Holy Cross seniors finish 35-12
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Holy Cross.
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Holy Cross finally was presented with a set of circumstances, some of its own making, that it couldn’t overcome.
From the opening kickoff Friday at Birkelbach Field in Georgetown, the Knights (9-2) found the obstacles mounting against Fort Worth Christian (10-2). By halftime, Fort Worth Christian led by more than four touchdowns and Holy Cross’ season was in jeopardy.
It ended with a 45-20 loss to the Cardinals in the TAPPS state quarterfinal game. Fort Worth Christian snapped Holy Cross’ eight-game winning streak.
“We played badly in the first half,” Holy Cross coach Mike Harrison said. “We did a lot of uncharacteristic stuff. We gave up the opening kickoff. He went by three of our kids. We just missed him.”
Fort Worth Christian freshman Cade Garcia returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. Garcia ran for two more touchdowns and finished with 110 rushing yards.
Holy Cross tied it on its opening possession with a well-executed drive. Knights senior back Greg Scott ran 11 yards for the touchdown with 9:14 left in the first quarter.
The Knights couldn’t sustain the momentum from the 7-7 tie. Meanwhile, Fort Worth Christian unveiled a spread offense it hadn’t shown in the three game films Holy Cross studied.
Two defensive offsides penalties on fourth down, including one on fourth-and-goal, led to Cardinals touchdowns. A Knights fumble set up a field goal by Fort Worth Christian. Harrison said a dropped would-be interception likely would have produced a Holy Cross touchdown.
All of that added up to first-half frustration.
“You’re talking about 24 of their 38 points came from us making mistakes and dropping passes,” Harrison said. “Their defense shut Greg down, so they took that away from us. I couldn’t tell you how many three-and-outs we had.
“They won on our defensive mistakes and their defensive line controlling the line of scrimmage.”
The Cardinals scored only once after halftime, on a 17-yard pass from Blaze Brownlow (16 of 22, 108 yards) to Kallen Walters. It came after Scott caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Holy Cross sophomore quarterback Steven Gutierrez (11 of 17, 111 yards) with 2:34 left in the third quarter.
Scott finished with 36 rushing yards on 19 attempts, but it was enough to put him over the 2,000-yard mark for the season. The senior rushed for 2,007 yards and 28 touchdowns.
David Sanchez (56 yards, 2 receptions) scored Holy Cross’ last touchdown of the season on a 50-yard pass play from Gutierrez with 8:36 left in the game.
“This is the most resillient team I’ve coached in my 27 years of coaching,” Harrison said. “We suffered numerous injuries and our kids found ways to overcome them. You lose an all-state quarterback (Cisco Flores) and go on an eight-game winning streak, that speaks pretty well of the kids.
“That’s what I’ll take away from this year’s group. They had an ability to overcome difficult situations. These kids taught me a lot about never giving up and never giving in.”
Fort Worth Christian outgained the Knights 307-167 in total yardage. Holy Cross’ defense produced three shutouts and held two other opponents to seven points.
“One of the things is that we played as a team,” Harrison said, referring to the strengh of the defense. “We had some good talent there. We had kids who had some real ability and were really tough. Our defensive line was the best we’ve had in a long, long time. Our linebackers as a whole, all four were excellent. Our secondary starrted a senior cornerback (Chris Rodriguez), who was an absolute gem, and a sophomore cornerback, who came along.
“I think the key was that the kids came to rely on each other.”
During the last four years, the Knights seniors have helped the program post a 35-12 record against a challenging schedule.
“We went into this year with a goal of making the state championship game,” Harrison said. “We had an all-state quarterback and an all-state running back (Scott). When Cisco went down (with an anterior cruciate ligament injury), we all took a collective step back. But these kids played at a level I was inspired by.
“These seniors have won four district championships, won four area championships and went to four area finals (or state quarterfinals). In most programs, that’s a pretty good run. I hope they will always be proud of what they’ve accomplished.”
Holy Cross will return six starters on offense and four on defense. The group includes quarterbacks Gutierrez and Nazario Coleman, in addition to four of the five offensive line starters.
“Offensively, we’re going to have about six kids back,” Harrison said, “but I don’t know how we’ll replace Greg Scott. But, you know what, somebody will have to step up and do the job.
“Our expectations will always be the same. Our JV was undefeated, our freshmen were undefeated and our middle school was undefeated. So, there’s some talent that’s coming up. I’m very excited about what we have here at Holy Cross and we’re going to do our very best in everything we do.”