For the second year in a row the Chilton Pirates (11-2) had a stellar season--and a state title run--come to a screeching halt at the hands of the Shiner Comanches (13-0).
THE AGONY OF DEFEAT - Chilton coach Robert Little and senior offensive/defensive lineman Pete Rodriguez console each other following the loss to Shiner Saturday night. Coach Lucky Gamble summed up the Pirate's season saying, "I'm proud to be a Chilton Pirate, and you ought to be, too!" (Photo by Paul Romer)
Four turnovers and four turnover-on-downs proved too much for the Pirates to overcome as Shiner, led by senior running back Chris Baer, ran off with a 24-7 victory in the Class 1A Region IV semifinal Saturday in Round Rock's Dragon Stadium.
Shiner will play Bracketville this week in the state semifinal round.
The Pirates trailed 14-0 at the half thanks in large part to Baer, who ran for an eight-yard score and threw a 31-yard halfback-option touchdown pass to tight end Bucky Boehm.
Despite being down two touchdowns to a very good football team, the Pirates had reason to hope for a second half comeback.
On their last drive before the half, the Pirates had enjoyed their best offensive series of the night with sophomore Josh Landrum leading the way by catching two passes for 37 yards and running a reverse for eight yards.
The second half, however, started slowly for the Pirates as Shiner strong safety Kevin Berger ended Chilton's first drive with an interception.
Shiner then took its first possession of the third quarter all the way to Chilton's eight-yard line before fumbling it away.
Chilton senior Corey Potts, who missed most of the first half after injuring his left knee early in the first quarter, dove on the loose ball and recovered it for the Pirates.
Perhaps buoyed by Potts' gutsy performance--he was noticeably limping during the second half--Chilton marched straight down the field, stuffed it in the end zone and made the extra point to cut Shiner's lead in half at 14-7.
Sophomore running back Travis Landrum did all the work on the 97-yard drive. He started the drive with a 30-yard jaunt and ended it with a bruising 57-yard run for the score.
The Pirates kept it close for the entire third quarter with a defense that was bending but not braking.
After the Landrum score Baer took Shiner's next handoff 43 yards, and Shiner looked primed to score again; however, Chilton junior Alejo Gomez recovered a Shiner fumble.
Shiner again moved down the field with its next possession, but failed to score a touchdown when Potts had just enough spurt left in his injured leg to break up another halfback-option pass from Baer to Boehm.
One play later Josh Landrum burst around the left end and blocked a Shiner field goal attempt to keep Chilton within seven.
Chilton had kept Shiner scoreless for nearly two quarters, momentum had shifted, and the Pirates seemed poised for a game-tying drive.
But Chilton's first possession of the fourth quarter handed back all the momentum that had swung their way in the third quarter.
On the first play after Landrum's block, a muffed quarterback-center exchange gave Shiner the ball back on the 11-yard line.
Chilton's defense again held Shiner out of the end zone, but this time kicker Scott Shimek extended Shiner's lead to 17-7 when he booted a 33-yard field goal.
On its next possession Chilton again marched down the field thanks to strong running from Landrum, who finished 151 yards on 19 carries.
But Shiner got the ball back when it stopped running back Darvis Brandon on fourth and six at the 11-yard line.
Baer then iced the game with a 78-yard touchdown run with 3:52 left in the game-he finished with 233 yards rushing.
At the end of the game Chilton coach Lucky Gamble stood on the field, encircled by his weeping team.
"I'm proud to be a Chilton Pirate, and you ought to be, too," he said.
Then he told the seniors and the team that he loved them.
He finished his comments, called the team in closer and had them announce a goal for 2005.
"Get better! Win state!"
These are the words the Chilton Pirates, with arms raised, shouted before walking off the field together for the last time in 2004.