In a back-and-forth scorefest last year on “Monday Night Football,” the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams rolled up over 1,000 total yards, and the Rams held off the Chiefs in a thriller some people are still talking about nearly a year later.
On Friday the 13th, Kilgore and Pine Tree collectively said, “Hold my beer.”
The Bulldogs and Pirates played to a triple-overtime, knock-down, drag-out non-district battle Friday night here at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium, a game Kilgore finally won, 64-62, when Pine Tree couldn’t tie the game again on a two-point conversion.
Kilgore quarterback Dalton McElyea, already getting word-of-mouth after just two games at the varsity level, threw five touchdown passes in the game, but his biggest pass was at the end, good for just two points.
With the game tied at 56 on the high side of 10:45 p.m., and after 77 points had been scored in the second half alone, KHS running back Kennieth Lacy broke the plain of the end zone for a 6-yard scoring run to give Kilgore a 62-56 lead. At that point, UIL rules require teams to go for two, rather than kick the extra point.
McElyea and his offensive line strode to the Pine Tree 2-yard-line and when the ball was snapped, Donovan Adkins cut across the end zone. McElyea hit Adkins on the pass for the two-point conversion and gave Kilgore the eight-point lead.
But the Pirates, with a scrappy Johnny Manziel-esque quarterback named D.J. Freeman, would get another chance, and they’d score, too,
On the two-point conversion, though, the Pirates’ comeback finally ended. The pass was incomplete, and Kilgore – seemingly all of it, at least the thousands there at the stadium – erupted in celebration.
Coach Mike Wood’s Ragin’ Red lost to Pine Tree last year, the first Kilgore loss to Pine Tree in 29 seasons, but straightened that painting once again Friday night. And now the Bulldogs, now 3-0, will host Texas High for Kilgore’s homecoming game next Friday, Sept. 20.
The overtime period, combined with an earlier deadline in 2019, meant that, for the first time ever, the Kilgore Bulldogs outlasted the Kilgore News Herald. The News Herald’s print deadline came and went with the teams tied, and hopefully, those readers journeyed to kilgorenewsherald.com for this story.
If the overtime periods were eclipsed, it was only by the finish of regulation itself.
Kilgore led 42-28 with just over 7 ½ minutes left, only to see Pine Tree get two quick scores and tie it. The Bulldogs fumbled the ball back to Pine Tree, and the Pirates scored with 43 seconds left, a touchdown catch by Keelan Turner, a trick play on a pass from Corey Thomas Jr., who rolled out as if he were going to run, then stopped and threw it downfield to Turner. It was Turner’s third touchdown catch of the night, and it looked like the end for Kilgore.
The Ragin’ Red, though, wouldn’t be denied.
Kilgore received the kick and drove downfield quickly. Finally, with nine seconds left, McElyea connected with Adkins to tie the game at 49. Kilgore kicked off, the regulation clock ran out, and off to overtime we went.
The Pirates’ two-touchdown comeback was something to behold, even if it was scary.
Pine Tree tried to take the home crowd out of the game early with a quick six-play touchdown drive. Freeman went 3-of-3 on the drive, completing passes to running back T. Sheffield, Nikema Williams, and Torrell Collins before Sheffield got free for a 26-yard touchdown run. The Pirates led early, 7-0, and then stunned everyone by doubling it.
Pine Tree’s defense held the Bulldogs to a three-and-out, and after taking over for a second possession at their own 31, Freeman connected with Adams for a 52-yard pass. Three plays later Freeman and Turner hooked up for the first time on the night for a 16-yard score. The Pirates looked upset-minded again.
But Kilgore scored 28 consecutive points. McElyea found B.J. Owings on a pass that Owings took 57 yards for the score, and then Kilgore tied the game on a 38-yard run by Epps.
The Bulldogs took the lead on a 14-yard pass from McElyea to Brian Brown (21-14), and then extended it to 28-14 on an 18-yard pass from McElyea to DaVondrick Crowe, McElyea’s third touchdown pass of the half, in part helped by a pass interference call the play before on the Pirates.
Freeman and Turner would add a PT score with just three seconds left in the half, and Kilgore led at halftime, 28-21.
Little did everyone know what was in store in the second half.
Owings brought the crowd to their feet on the very first play of the third quarter, giving the Bulldogs a 35-21 lead on a 42-yard kick return for a touchdown, but scrappy Pine Tree just would not go away.
The Bulldogs got a pair of turnovers that stalled Pirate drives, and blocked a field goal. But Freeman finally got them into the end zone with 1:52 left in the third quarter, and pulled PT within a touchdown, 35-28.
Kilgore scored again, taking a 42-28 lead with 7:44 left in the game – McElyea converted a key fourth-and-inches sneak behind a surging Bulldogs’ offensive line on the drive, and with Brown making a couple of big catches on the drive, Trey Epps got the ‘Dogs into the end zone.
But the Pirates again punched back, and twice. Turner returned the kickoff, bobbing and weaving, for an 82-yard touchdown to get within a touchdown again (42-35), and then the Pirates recovered a Kilgore fumble.
Freeman found Gabrell Adams inside Kilgore’s 10-yard-line and with 4:05 left, Pine Tree tied it up at 42. That set the wheels in motion for the final marathon of regulation, and well into the night in triple overtime.
Pine Tree, for many years a district rival to the Bulldogs, has now lost to Kilgore every meeting except twice since 1991: a tie in ’91, and Pine Tree’s win last year.
According to the official statistics from the game, McElyea went 23-of-30 for 315 yards and the five scores, to four different receivers: Adkins caught two, and had five total catches for 57 yards. Brown had a breakout night, with seven catches for 108 yards and a score.
Crowe had five catches for 48 yards and a touchdown; Cade Pippen had three for 18 yards; Billy Bell had two for 25 yards; and Owings had the 57-yard touchdown catch in the first half.
Epps had 114 yards on 14 carries, and Lacy had 17 carries for 55 yards and the go-ahead score in the third and final overtime.
The Ragin' Red had 490 total yards.
Chris Baldazo went 8-for-8 in extra points, and Jose Jaime punted just twice, but averaged 41 yards a punt.