McLean’s Ben Crockett get swallowed up by Blum’s Blain Garza in the Class 1A Division I state championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Wednesday. [Matt Smith/ For Press Pass Sports]
ARLINGTON— McLean and Blum opened the 2019 UIL State Football Championships on Wednesday the way a state title game should be played.
The two best teams in Class 1A Division I slugged out a four quarter brawl that left a crowd of 3,925 fans at AT&T Stadium on the edge of their seats.
Unfortunately for McLean, Blum was the one left standing in a 58-52 thriller.
Blum made the most of its first ever appearance in a state championship. The Bobcats (13-2 overall) earned their first title in program history as well as spoiling a repeat for the Tigers, who end another great year at 13-2.
Blum’s head coach Cooper Thornhill talked about his team’s monumental victory during his postgame press conference.
It’s unreal,” said Thornhill, who is 42-8 in four seasons as the Bobcats head coach. “Blum’s football program has been around for fifty years. This community deserves this.”
No doubt the Bobcats earned their win in the state championship. This game had everything fans could want including a dramatic finish.
Blum broke a 52-52 tie with 58 seconds to play in the game when running back Coltin Gonzales broke loose from 29 yards out. However, the extra-point kick was wide right, giving Blum just a 58-52 lead.
The game set up perfectly for McLean to drive down and punch in a game winning score with 58 seconds and a time out.
With the ball at their own 23, Ben Crockett went to work from the quarterback position dumping off a 13-yard pass to Kade Reichman. The following play Crockett found Abshire on a 42-yard hookup to the Bobcats 22-yard line with 24 seconds to play.
Coach Clint Linman elected not to use his timeout. On the next play, Crockett snapped the ball with 14 seconds left, scrambled and threw an incomplete pass. By the time the play was over there were only three seconds to remaining. On the final play of the season Crockett again dropped back and dumped a pass off to Abshire, the ball then found Jacob Watson on a desperation lateral. Watson was immediately wrapped up to end the game.
“We tried our best to get chunk yards early and get out of bounds.” Coach Linman said about the team’s final drive. “We just needed to get our yards and get out of bounds, but we just ran out of time.” Linman finishes his third year as Tiger’s head coach in Arlington for a second consecutive season. “We didn’t finish where we wanted this year, but it’s not because of lack of effort or want to, these guys have always worked hard and done what’s asked.”
McLean exploded in the first quarter for a 22-8 lead over the Bobcats. Soon after however, the Blum defense was able to stall Crockett and the Tigers, and take advantage on the offensive end with a 32-0 run over the second and third quarters.
The Tigers fought back from a 46-30 late deficit in the third quarter, led by Crockett. Crockett hit passing touchdowns to Watson and Keaton Helton for scores to cut the lead, 46-44. With just under three minutes left to play Blum drove quickly scoring a touchdown but with the missed extra point after and 2:51 left on the clock, giving Tigers justenough time to tie it up, 52-52.
That’s exactly what McLean did on the ensuing drive. The kickoff was returned by Watson all the way down to the Bobcat 17-yard line. Crockett cut the lead to two with an 8-yard sweep and Jackson Reiner tied it on the extra point.
“We knew they were capable of scoring and we were confident we could score ourselves.” Coach Thornhill said of the last few minutes of the game. “We told our boys they had to force them to maintain a drive.”
Blum’s Coltin Gonzalez earned Offensive MVP accumulating 232 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 26 carries. Despite the loss, Ben Crockett earned Defensive MVP with 13 solo tackles and 14.5 overall.
Crockett also led McLean with 215 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He added 254 yards through the air with three more scores.
Wednesday’s defeat says goodbye to a nine game postseason win streak for McLean dating back to last season.
McLean is an impressive 39-4 over the last three years with a Class 1A Division I state championship last year, a runner up finish this season, and a state quarterfinal finish in 2017.
The Tigers say goodbye to one of the best Six-man players of the decade in Ben Crockett. Crockett ended his season with 2,965 rushing yards, 27 rushing touchdowns, 799 passing yards, 23 touchdowns through the air, and 113 tackles.
“The last four years at McLean have been a blast for me,” Crockett said. “My sophomore year we could see we were building something special. Then coach Linman came in. His style fit our team and we’ve had great success with that.”
Blum 58, McLean 52
McLean 22 8 22 — 52
Blum 16 8 22 12 — 58
M—Keaton Helton 43 pass from Ben Crockett (kick failed)
M—Crockett 78 run (Jackson Rainer kick)
B—Kody Clinkscales 53 pass from Dylan Vardeman (Harley Martindale kick)
M—Crockett 42 run (Rainer kick)
B—Clinkscales 53 pass from Vardeman (Martindale kick)
B—Coltin Gonzales 1 run (Martindale kick)
B—Gonzales 11 run (Martindale kick)
B—Gonzales 13 run (Martindale kick)
M—Crockett 8 run (Rainer kick)
B—Trey Bullard 42 kickoff return
M—Jacob Watson 11 pass from Crockett (kick failed)
B—Gonzales 11 run (kick failed)
M—Crockett 8 run (Rainer kick)
B—Gonzales 29 run (kick failed)
First Downs 16 15
Rushing Yards 229 296
Passing Yards 254 145
Total Yards 483 441
C-A-I 13-21-1 6-9-2
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-0
Penalties-Yards 4-31 5-31
Rushing— McLean: Crockett 27-215, Dalton Abshire 1-8, Jacob Watson 1-3. Blum: Coltin Gonzales 26-232, Brian Garza 8-34.
Passing— McLean: Crockett 13-21-1-254.Blum: Dylan Vardeman 5-8-2-143.
Receiving— McLean: Abshire 4-71, Keaton Helton 3-63, Cayson Carter 2-57. Blum: Koby Clinkscales 3-111, Martindale 1-18.