ARLINGTON, TX — It started off ugly for the 15-0 Refugio Bobcats, but senior quarterback Austin Ochoa and their defense eventually wore down the previously unbeaten Post Antelopes.
The two teams went into halftime tied at 7. Neither offense could get anything going against their opponent's stout defenses. The first six possessions of the game ended as follows: punt, punt, punt, interception, interception, fumble.
Post finally found the end zone with 35 seconds left in the first quarter after a Jordan Kelley fumble was recovered and returned to the Refugio 28.
The Antelopes capitalized on the good field position with a five play, 1 minute and 23 second long drive. All five plays were runs, and Ashton Jefferson took a read option handoff to the right side six yards into the endzone.
That short drive would be the highest point the Post offense would reach for the rest of the game.
Refugio's defense played outstanding for all four quarters. Their front seven of Thomas Keyes, Nathan Marsh, Javon Williams, Nathan Meza, Ysidro Mascorro, Zavien Wills, and Jaden Hubbard tormented Tayten Thetford and company in the backfield.
The run heavy Post offense mustered only 92 yards on 32 carries.
They were much worse through the air. Post does not have a conventional throwing quarterback, and three different players attempted a pass, although they were mostly screens. Slayden Pittman, Nathan McDaniel, and Thetford combined to go 2 of 7 for just a single yard.
Post never adjusted on offense, Refugio did.
After being shutout in the first quarter, Head Coach Jason Herring decided to start using Ochoa in the run game. On his first carry with 8:21 to go in the half, Ochoa faked a jet sweep handoff and kept it up the middle for a 28 yard gain.
They let him keep it on the next three plays, and he had another first down. On the next set of chains, Refugio went for it on 4th and 6 from the Post 19. Ochoa went through the air and threw a strike to Kelley on a comeback along the right sideline for a 9 yard gain.
Ochoa ran it to the 2 on 3rd and goal from the 9. He then went up the middle out of the shotgun to tie the game on fourth down.
Post earned one first down on their ensuing possession. They were content with a 7-7 halftime score and let the clock run out.
The second half played out like the second quarter. Post could not do anything on offense, and Refugio was effective enough to pull away.
Ochoa was the difference. Refugio had him, and Post did not. He was the obvious vote for Offensive Player of the Game and walked away with the honor.
He finished the game with 108 yards and four touchdowns on 27 carries. He also completed 9 of 14 passes for 207 yards. 93 of them were on two passes to Ethan Perez.
The rest of the Refugio ball carriers, five of them, combined for 13 yards on 12 carries. Ysidro Mascorro was the most effective of the bunch with 7 yards on 2 carries.
Ochoa's second score came at the end of a 9 play, 63 yard drive to start the second half. He punched it in on a QB sneak from the one yard line after mixing runs and passes.
After Post's touchdown, they finished their drives with a punt, halftime, punt, punt, turnover on downs, fumble, punt, and the end of the game.
They were no threat to make a game of it at the end.
Ochoa got TD number 3 on a 5 yard scamper. That run capped a 4 play, 75 yard drive that took 1:01 off the clock. The big play came on a 61 yard flag route to Perez that put them at the 13. Ochoa scored three plays later with 11:46 to play in the game.
The final nail in the coffin came on another QB sneak from one yard out with 6:55 remaining.
Final Score: Refugio 28, Post 7.
The Championship is Refugio's fifth in school history and first since 2016. They have three this decade. The other was in 2011.
Ochoa was named the Offensive Player of the Game.
Linebacker Javon Williams was given the Defensive Player of the Game award. He finished the game with 6.5 tackles (6 solo) and 3.5 tackles for loss. He was a menace all game.