ARLINGTON, TX — The Texas High School State Championship started off with a bang on Wednesday. Blum and McLean went back and forth from the opening kickoff and stayed within two possessions for the most of game.
McLean running back Ben Crockett came out of the gate determined to defend last year’s State Championship.
The senior accounted for three scoring plays and 195 total yards in just the first quarter. On the Tigers’ first possession, he capped a 1:46 second, 60 yard drive with a 43 yard pass to junior Keaton Helton.
Blum then marched right down the field thanks to a 44 yard run by Coltin Gonzales, McLean linebacker Kade Reichman ended their chance to tie it up. Reichman jumped up and intercepted Dylan Vardeman’s pass at the 2 yard line.
Backed up in the shadow of their end zone, Blum stacked the line of scrimmage with all six of their defensive players. McLean called a pitch to Crockett, and he found a hole on the left side and raced untouched 78 yards to other end of the field.
After spotting McLean 14 points early, Blum started to get going through the air. Koby Clinksales reeled in two touchdowns from Dylan Vardeman on their next two possessions. The first was a 28 yarder with 3:53 in the first, and the second was a 53 yard pass that was thrown as the clock struck 0:00.
Crockett had a 42 yard run to score in between those Blum possessions. It was 22-16 McLean after one.
Gonzales was the only player to score in the second quarter. He capped a six play, 18 yard possession with a one yard run up the middle after a Tiger turnover on downs. Blum went into the locker room with a 24-22 lead.
That touchdown started the Coltin Gonzales show. The senior was named the Offensive Player of the Game because of his dominance in the second half. He finished the game with 26 carries for 232 yards and 5 touchdowns. He only had 71 of those yards in the first two quarters.
Blum received the opening kickoff and went 59 yards in eight plays. Gonzales hit the Tigers with back to back runs of 17 and 11 yards to end the drive with his second TD.
Koby Clinksales then intercepted Crockett on the third play of their next drive to give the Bobcats the ball at their 23. Gonzales ran it in for his third straight touchdown, this time of 13 yards.
The kick was good, and Blum had the largest lead of the game up 40-22 with 1:32 in the third quarter.
It would not last long, and the game began to get wild. Crockett marched his Tigers 60 yards in three plays and 49 seconds. He completed two passes to senior Dalton Abshire for a combined 52 yards, then ran it in himself to make it 40-30.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jackson Rainer squibbed it short and to his left left, it may have been an onside kick but went well past ten yards. Bullard picked it up off a bounce, found an alley, and streaked down the right side of the field for a touchdown.
The PAT was no good, so it was still a two possession game. 46-30 Blum with 35 seconds left in the third.
The fourth quarter was a replica of the first, only flipped.
McLean answered the kickoff return with a 3:54 long drive. Crockett was lethal through the air. His ability to scramble and keep plays alive while looking down field was fantastic.
The scoring play came on 4th and 5 from the Blum 11. Crockett rolled to his right and threw it back to Jacob Watson who was tackled near the goal line but reached the ball over for the score. The PAT was no good, and McLean was still down two scores.
Blum turned the ball over on downs, and gave McLean the ball back with 4:19 to play in the game.
Crockett threw it deep to Caysen Carter on first down for 43 yards. He then found Helton in the end zone on the next play to bring it within two. 46-44 Blum with 3:49 in the fourth.
One minute later, Gonzales was in for his fourth TD of the game. Once again, the PAT was no good and it was still a one possession game, 52-44.
Everyone in the stadium knew McLean would score, and it only took them 36 seconds to do so. A horse collar tackle extended the drive, and Crockett took a handoff 8 yards to the left pylon.
Rainer's kick went through the uprights, and the game was tied at 52 with 2:15 left.
Gonzales solidified his Offensive Player of the Game award with a 29 yard rushing score with 58 seconds. The PAT was missed again, and McLean was given a great opportunity to win the game on their final drive.
They made it to the Blum 30, but a deep shot to the end zone sailed over Carter's head, and they only had one chance left with three seconds to go.
The Tigers called a timeout and ran a hook and ladder that was quickly blown up by two Bobcats after the initial pitch.
Final Score: Blum 58, McLean 52.
Crockett finished the game with 227 yards rushing and 254 yards passing. He had 7 total TD's, 4 rushing, 3 passing. He was also named the Defensive Player of the Game. He had 14.5 total tackles, 13 solo.
This is Blum's first state championship is school history.