Beavers advance to state championship
Falls City Head Coach Steve Marbach hoists the state semifinal trophy and celebrates with his Beaver football team. Falls City will now advance to the Class 1A DII State Championship game.
Falls City 36
WACO -- Three years after winning the school’s first-ever state championship, the Falls City Beaver football team has the opportunity to do it again. The Beavers held off a second-half surge by the Tenaha Tigers last Friday night, and in doing so, earned a trip to the state championship.
Falls City had very little in the way of trouble, as the team made its way through postseason play. In their first three playoff games, the Beavers earned three shutouts, and outscored their opponents by a combined score of 151-0. That all changed in the state semifinals, though, as Falls City was tested until the very end, but still picked up a 36-34 victory.
Tenaha received the opening kickoff to get things going, and had decent field position out around the Tiger 30-yard line. The Beaver defense showed its strength early, though, and Tenaha was forced to punt on a three-and-out.
The Beavers gave the ball to Justin Twine on their first offensive play of the game, and the senior picked up 29 yards to instantly put the ball in Tiger territory. Twine picked up another first down at the Tenaha 20-yard line, and then punched it in from there to go up 6-0. The Beavers failed to convert on the 2-point play, but held a 6-0 lead with nine minutes to play in the first quarter.
Tenaha started its second possession around the 30-yard line again, and quickly moved into Beaver territory with a nice passing play. A couple of plays later, Tiger running back Chavis Gregory found a chink in the Falls City armor, and rumbled 41 yards for a touchdown. It was the first touchdown Falls City had allowed in five weeks.
With the game tied at 6-all, the Tigers sent their kicking team onto the field, and a Javier Uribe extra point put Tenaha on top of Falls City 7-6 with 7:26 still remaining in the first quarter.
Things settled down a bit from there, and each team had a three-and-out. Falls City was later pinned back at its own 3-yard line, and senior Dean Gaskamp had to punt from his own end zone. The Tigers were able to take over at midfield, and had driven down to the Beaver 24-yard line as the first quarter came to an end.
Out of field goal range, but deep in Falls City territory, Tenaha elected to go for it on fourth-and-10. The Tigers took a shot at the end zone, but great defense prevented the score, and Falls City took over at their own 24.
On the Beavers’ first play from scrimmage, Twine took the ball and did what he does best, as he made defender after defender miss him en route to the end zone. Twine ran from sideline to sideline as he eluded would-be tacklers, and scored on what was officially a 76-yard touchdown. Quarterback Gaskamp then ran in the 2-point conversion, and Falls City reassumed the lead at 14-7.
The Tigers looked as though they would respond to the score, as Tenaha took the ensuing kickoff and returned it out to their own 48-yard line. The Beaver defense shut down the Tigers, though, and forced a punt from the 50.
The teams traded possessions without scoring, and time was winding down in the half. The Tigers punted the ball away and Falls City returned it to the Tenaha 49-yard line with 2:47 left to play in the half. The Beaver offense began to move the ball and was mindful of the clock as it did. Twine hit Gaskamp on a passing play to the 22-yard line, and the Beavers missed a golden opportunity as a Gaskamp pass was dropped at the goal line. After driving to the 1-yard line and mere ticks remaining on the clock, the Beavers got the snap off and Twine took the ball into the end zone to score with no time remaining on the clock. Connor Jendrusch came in for the extra point, and the Beavers took a 21-7 lead into halftime.
Falls City received the kickoff to start the second half, and the team drove down into Tenaha territory. Falls City settled for a field goal attempt, but came up short, giving the ball to Tenaha just inside the Tiger 10-yard line.
The Tigers put together a good drive from there and eventually scored with a 1-yard run from Gregory. The extra point made it a 21-14 game, but that is where disaster struck.
On the ensuing kickoff, confusion by the Beavers and a heads-up play by the Tigers resulted in an immediate Tenaha touchdown. With the game tied at 21-all, it got even worse for Falls City as the offense gave up an interception on its next offensive possession, and the Tigers turned it into 7 more points. In less than three minutes of game clock, Tenaha scored 21 points and was ahead of Falls City 28-21.
The Beavers took the kickoff to start the fourth quarter of play and made something happen in a hurry. A pair of big runs from Twine, including a scamper of 46 yards into the end zone, brought the Beavers to within a point. Jendrusch then booted the extra point, and with 10:56 to play in the state semifinal, things were all tied up at 28-all.
Beaver Head Coach Steve Marbach decided to roll the dice a bit from there, and his kickoff team went for an onside kick of sorts. The Beavers played the ball perfectly, and recovered the kick at the Tenaha 32-yard line. A few plays later, Gaskamp found a seam right up the middle of the field and sprinted 21 yards for a touchdown. Twine then connected with David Brodsky on the 2-point conversion, and Falls City led 36-28.
Tenaha started its next possession at its own 36 and drove down to the Falls City 35. The Tigers faced a fourth-and-5 from there, and the Beaver defense came up with a big stop to kill the drive and put Falls City’s offense back on the field.
The Beavers eventually punted the ball away and a big return to the Falls City 30-yard line looked to spell trouble for the Beavers. Tenaha scored on a 30-yard passing play to pull to within 2 points at 38-36, and the Tigers had no choice but to go for the 2-point conversion.
In what may have been their biggest mistake of the night, the Tigers had continued confusion on the 2-point attempt and burned their final two timeouts. They eventually went with a passing play, but came up short.
With two minutes to play and a 2-point differential, everyone knew an onside kick was coming up. The Beavers played it perfectly, though, and Austen Camber recovered the kick for Falls City. The Beaver offense went out onto the field and needed to burn 2:11 off the clock. Falls City stuck to its game plan, and the Beavers earned their toughest win of the season by the final score of 36-34.
“I am extremely proud of our boys, not just for winning against a great Tenaha team, but for battling through some very adverse circumstances at the end of the third quarter,” Marbach said. “We stayed together as a team and stayed positive, and that mindset allowed us to overcome and find a way to win.”
Twine led the Beaver ground game with 253 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries. Gaskamp ran 19 times for another 112 yards and a touchdown. Twine and Gaskamp each completed one pass for a combined 57 yards. Gaskamp reeled in a 37-yard completion from Twine, and senior Stephen Harlos had a 20-yard reception from Gaskamp.
Defensively, senior Eric Wiatrek remained the heart and soul of the Beaver defense, and tallied 19 tackles on the night. Tyler Malcolm had a stellar game with 15 tackles, and Harlos was good for another 12 tackles and a sack. Jendrusch had nine tackles.
The win advances the Beavers to the Class 1A DII UIL State Championship game to be played this Thursday, Dec. 19, at 1 p.m. The Beavers will face the Wellington Rockets inside AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Class 1A DII State Championship
Falls City vs. Wellington
Thursday, Dec. 19, at 1 p.m.
AT&T Stadium in Arlington