WACO – For Kilgore on Friday, here in the Bulldogs’ return to Waco ISD Stadium, good things came in threes.
In the third-ever meeting between Kilgore and El Campo, Ja’Vorie Hamilton scored three touchdowns; Kilgore ran its record to 3-0 all-time at Waco ISD; and the Bulldogs got a win in the second, or area, round of the UIL Class 4A, Division I playoffs, beating the Ricebirds, 24-9.
Kilgore (9-3) moves on to the third round to face old rival Henderson in the third round. They'll face off for a second time this season next Friday night at 7 p.m. at Pine Tree. It'll be the second-ever playoff game between the two; Kilgore beat Henderson, 27-0, in a first-round game at Stephen F. Austin University back in 2003.
Kilgore won this regular season's meeting, here at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium, on Oct. 20, 45-35.
Regardless of the Kilgore-Henderson outcome, this current playoff run is now the Ragin’ Red’s longest since it reached the 3A DI state championship game in 2013.
In the Bulldogs' win Friday night in Waco, Hamilton’s teammate, Briant Mumphrey, got the bulk of the workload out of the backfield, and Nick Hooper had a few big plays for the Bulldogs, too. But Hamilton scored all three of Kilgore’s touchdowns in the win over El Campo (8-3), and Elivan Torres had the other points for KHS, a 20-yard field goal in the first half.
After leading 10-3 at the half, Kilgore and El Campo swapped possessions – and turnovers – throughout the third quarter; neither team scored.
But it was the last play of the third quarter, on a Kilgore punt, that was possibly the biggest play of the game.
Kilgore’s Elian Torres punted the ball and El Campo returner Donovan Holloway stood inside his own 15-yard-line ready to field it. But the ball bounced off of Holloway and Kilgore’s Sebastian Mumphrey scooped it up, finally, at EC’s 1.
Hamilton scored on the first play of the fourth quarter to give Kilgore the 17-3 lead.
The ‘Birds wouldn’t go away, though. Big running back Nery Enriquez lumbered free for a 62-yard gain, tripped up by Hooper finally at Kilgore’s 15. Enriquez scored on a 6-yard run with 9:36 left, but the extra point was blocked, leaving EC down by eight points, 17-9.
Kilgore coughed the ball back up to EC on a fumble, but two plays later, Enriquez was popped by Kilgore defenders, and the ball bounced up into the air – and into the hands of Kilgore defensive end Demorrea Richardson, who snagged it at Kilgore’s 27.
From there, it was a heavy dose of Briant Mumphrey until Kilgore got to EC’s 33. That’s when Patrick “Buddy” Jackson broke free for a 31-yard gain to EC’s 2. Hamilton scored two plays later, with a minute left, icing the contest. El Campo had one more possession, but down two touchdowns with 58 seconds left. Kilgore’s Damien Parker picked off a pass by EC’s Lynn Osian, and the Bulldogs knelt down once for the win.
The Bulldogs finished with 318 total yards, and held El Campo to just 167.
El Campo lit the scoreboard first, a 38-yard field goal by Enriquez, after he was responsible for most of the yardage on the drive. The Ricebirds took the opening kickoff and didn’t throw a single pass on their initial drive.
Enriquez got the Ricebirds a big first down on a third-and-6, a 22-yard run to EC’s own 44-yard-line. Two plays later, he ran for 14 more yards, and the Ricebirds kept things on the ground until the drive stalled out at Kilgore’s 21, courtesy of a tackle for a loss of 4 yards by Richardson. Enriquez booted the field goal to give EC the early 3-0 lead.
Kilgore’s first possession ended in a punt, but the Bulldogs put together a heck of a drive at the end of the first quarter that ate up most of the second-quarter clock, a 91-yard, 19-play drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown by Hamilton. Elivan Torres’ extra point was good, and Kilgore led 7-3 with 5:08 left in the half. One of the key plays on the drive: a loss on a run by Jackson on a second-and-long, but Jackson would be thrown down out of bounds by El Campo’s Taylor Vaclavick, a personal foul that gave Kilgore a first down at the EC 17. Hamilton would get into the end zone to put the Bulldogs in front.
Kilgore’s defense forced a three-and-out on EC’s next drive, and then the Bulldogs got the ball back with 3:30 left in the half at their own 37. The Bulldogs avoided a near-disaster on a screen pass that was dropped and almost intercepted, but ultimately got a field goal out of the drive, a 20-yarder by Elivan Torres that gave Kilgore a 10-3 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs had the ball all the way to EC’s 2, but Jackson was rushed on the third-down play – he did good to get it off to fullback Daniel Sifford, who caught it but was thrown for a 1-yard loss. Kilgore had no time outs left, and had to run the special teams out onto the field for the kick, but was able to do so – Torres’ kick was good with two seconds left. El Campo took possession after the kick resulted in a touchback, and Enriquez picked up just 1 yard on the final play of the half.