China Spring quarterback Major Bowden scored four rushing touchdowns to help the Cougars collect their third win over a state-ranked opponent this postseason with a 31-13 victory over No. 9 Sealy Friday afternoon at College Station High School Stadium.
The Tigers weren’t able to score on their first three possessions while China Spring cashed in on its first two drives then answered Sealy’s first score, a 21-yard connection from D’vonne Hmielewski to Jakobe Davis, by scoring at the end of the first half and again to open the second half.
Trailing 24-6 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Tigers put together a drive that started on their own 2-yard line and took seven and a half minutes off the clock with three fourth-down conversions, including one inside their own 10-yard line. However, a fourth consecutive fourth-down conversion could not be made on the 24-yard line and Bowden quickly responded with a 52-yard score, his fourth of the afternoon, to increase the Cougars’ lead with only 2:24 remaining in the game.
Sealy senior running back Alvin Nunn provided the answering score with a bruising 28-yard touchdown run where he dragged three China Spring defenders into the end zone with him with just over a minute left to play.
Although offensive coordinator Chris Carruthers knew the Cougars’ defense would be a challenge to attack, he was proud of the effort the players gave for all 48 minutes.
“They don’t blitz so they don’t have to bring pressure, they’re able to out-man you on the perimeter and deep and they’re good enough up front where they have four guys rushing,” Carruthers said of China Spring. “I think our kids fought as hard as they could and I’m proud of them for that, everybody across the board fought their tails off we just ran into a really good team”
Head coach Shane Mobley agreed the Tigers never gave up even when things looked dim in the second half with the Cougars leading 31-6.
“We were able to end the season by teaching the seniors – all of the players – but especially the seniors a life lesson: They could have folded; they could have given up,” Mobley said. “These kids fought all the way through and there were sometimes when some of them got their heads down and started looking around but you don’t let them quit and we didn’t.”
After a 9-3 overall record with a second outright district title, bi-district championship and area trophy in the last three years, Mobley said that’s exactly what the team had visions of from day one.
“To make it as far as we did, there was nobody in our locker room that doubted that because they didn’t know any better,” the head coach said. “We’re going to fight every single time, as far as playing China Spring in this round, my hat’s off to them. They’re a great football team and there is nothing these young men need to hang their heads about. They fought their tails off, coaches had a great game plan but those guys will make you miss.”
Members of the Class of 2021 played their final football game for the Sealy Tigers and Mobley said there were so many whose impact will live on with the younger teammates through the program.
“With this group of seniors, who do you go to first?” he posed. “Do you go to Jakobe Davis who has just blown up this year, do you go to Draper Parker that was all over the place, do you go to Kade Killough who had to fight through an injury for four years of high school football, Tyler Hennessey who came out of nowhere the be the leader?”
The greatest token of appreciation he could hand over was personally telling everyone who won an all-district award.
“When we go back, we’re going to announce the district awards now that we’re out,” Mobley said. “We got a lot of honors, there’s a lot of great things they did this year that are exactly what a coach wants in a season. If it’s all about the wins and losses, then I’m in the wrong profession.”
Hmielewski finished with 20 completions on 31 passing attempts for 195 yards and totaled 29 rushing yards on 18 carries where eight went for negative yards. Junior receiver Connor Krenek led the receivers with seven catches for 81 yards and had the senior Davis behind him with six catches for 68 yards and the touchdowns. Classmate Draper Parker hauled in five passes for 33 yards and junior Graham Samonte registered 13 yards on two catches.
Nunn led the Tigers’ run game with 89 rushing yards on 12 carries and the touchdown, Krenek ran twice for seven yards and sophomore A’vonte Nunn carried once for three yards.
Junior Thomas Clark led the charge defensively for Sealy and collected nine tackles with senior Tyler Hennessey right behind with eight. Seniors Lane Holley and Clayton Prazak as well as junior Callen Rabius all contributed six tackles and senior Jackson Osborne registered four tackles.
Sophomore Mason Klotz and Krenek recorded three tackles and a trio of Tiger defenders had two tackles including senior Chris Price, junior Brooks Redden and sophomore Haden Wernecke.
The Cougars took down No. 4 Jasper in the bi-district round and No. 2 West Orange-Stark in the area round and after beating No. 9 Sealy in the regional quarterfinals, China Spring draws No. 1 Carthage in the regional final to determine who goes to the state semifinals.