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Mart Outshines Refugio 34-21

Kevin Hoffman Takes Mart Back to Promised Land

AT&T Stadium - The Refugio Bobcats (13-1) returned the state championship game after winning it last year 23-20 over Crawford. The Mart Panthers (14-1) return for the first time since 2012 when they lost 35-28 against Stamford.

This is just one of the phenomenal lineup of great matchups in the state championship games this year. These two blue blood programs have 17 state championship appearances between them and they have won a total of 7.

The Refugio sideline was wildly waving their REFUGIO STRONG towels (a reference to the devastation caused this season by Hurricane Harvey) and We ARE the STORM shirts as they waited to receive the opening kickoff.

The first play from scrimmage Jared Kelly tossed to Jamel LaFond in the flat who raced all the way down the right side for a 76 yard score and a 7-0 Refugio lead. Mart responded by going nowhere on three plays and punting the ball back to the Bobcats. Three plays later, Kelly hit Jake Tinsman in stride for a 42 touchdown strike. Refugio led 14-0 with 8:15 left in the first quarter.

Mart's next drive was altogether different as Shatydrick Bailey and Tyrek Horne had some impressive runs and Jalon Kirven a big gainer through the air. It was a drive that featured their first third down conversion of the game and ended when four plays later they faced 4th and 8 at the 21 but came up a few yards short. With the ball back in Refugio's hands on their own 14, the Bobcats dug out of the shadow of their own endzone with a couple of gainers to Ysidro Mascorro and Daryon Ramirez before the Mart defense stepped up forcing a 4th and 2 for the Bobcats. Lined up to go for it at their own 37, they didn't like the defense they saw and took their first timeout of the half with just 43 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Back from the timeout, Refugio elected instead to punt the ball.

Mart took over at their 27 and drove into the second quarter despite Refugio's Armonie Brown playing havoc applying quarterback pressure. From their 44, Baily burst into the open and sprinted untouched for the first Mart score. With 11:20 to go in the half, the Refugio lead was 14-7. Refugio's response to the Panther's new life was a drive that went no where. Refugio again punted the ball away giving it back to Mart at their 14 down by just 7.

The Bobcat defense stepped up big early in allowing only -2 yards before a third down toss for 12 to Anthony Sauceda that resulted in a big hit on him and a first down for Mart. Jace Terry did his best impersonation of Roger "the dodger" Staubach as he scrambled forward, backward, hither and thither turning a sure sack into a 4 yard gain. From there, Mart continued to pick apart the Bobcat defense until again looking like he would be sacked, Terry launched a prayer to Horne that he caught at the Refugio 28. Horne followed that with a tough run around the left side down to the 6 yard line for a 1st and goal. After Bailey was stopped near the goal line twice in a row, and Horne on third down, the Panthers faced 4th and goal at the 2. Mart called a timeout to think over their choice - 4th and goal at the 2 with 2:43 to go in the half, down by 7. What to do? Mart chose kick the field goal and Refugio responded by using a TO to ice the kicker.  Mart's response? A FAKE FG and pass in the end zone to Bailey for the game-tying TD. The 15  play drive covered 86 yards and left the score 14 all with 2:36 to go in the half.

Refugio was unable to get much going on their next drive and the wheels fell off when facing 4th and 8 from their 42, Kelly was sacked giving the ball to Mart with 41 seconds left in the half. Terry hit a wide open Kirven at the 1 yard line. One play later, Bailey punched it in for his second score and Mart's first lead 21-14 with 16 seconds still left before the break. Refugio would go into the half stunned to be down 21-14 after the Panthers reeled off 21 unanswered points.

Mart began the second half with the lead and the ball. This time they started driving but an interception by LaFond gave the ball back to Refugio. The Bobcats started strong but stalled at midfield. Mart took over at their own 7 with 8:07 to go in the third. Mart was unable to make anything happen with the ball as Refugio went back to a heavier rush that seemed to do the trick for the Bobcats. A shanked punt gave Refugio the ball on the Mart 36 with just over 5 minutes to go in the third. The great field position ended up in a turnover on downs on the 7 yard line that Mart was unable to advance.

The fourth quarter started with Mart still leading 21-14. The clock was down to 9:22 before Mart scored again. This time a 29 yard strike to Kirven for the 28-14 lead. From there, Refugio looked at time to be mounting a comeback when Kinsman scored on a 23 yarder to make it 28-21, but it wasn't to be as Mart scored again when Terry busted one for 64 yards to put the nail in the coffin with 6:24 to go in the game 34-21. Refugio was unable to mount anything else offensively and the Panthers salted away the clock to earn their 6th state championship and first for Head Coach Kevin Hoffman who took over the Panthers in 2015 after being the team's Offensive Coordinator.

by Chris Doelle

Offensive MVP: Shatydrick Bailey (Mart)
Defensive MVP: Jermaine Madkins (Mart)

Attendance: 7,431

18First Downs11
232Rushing Yds27
254Passing Yds246
486Total Yds273

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