SAN ANTONIO - Entering the playoffs with five starters sidelined due to injuries, the Shiner Comanches knew they would need some of their younger players to step up.
Enter sophomore quarterback Matthew Hibbs.
Making his first varsity start in place of injured Kyle Condel, Hibbs rushed for 121 yards and one touchdown and was one of four Comanches to reach the end zone Saturday night in the Comanches' 27-0 victory over the Ben Bolt Badgers in a Class 1A, Division I bi-district contest at Harlandale Memorial Stadium.
"I was very proud of Matthew and the guys around him," said coach Steven Cerny, whose Comanches improved to 7-4 and will face Brackettville (6-4) in the area round Saturday at 6 p.m. at New Braunfels Canyon High School. "Matthew is a true veer quarterback with his quickness."
Hibbs had long runs to set up a touchdown and added a 14-yard score on an option keeper just before the half as the Comanches took a 21-0 lead into halftime.
"It was a little scary," Hibbs said of his first start. "I was a little nervous at first, but the team really helped me out. No matter what, they were always encouraging me."
The Comanches scored 21 points during a 7 1/2-minute span of the second quarter to pull away from the Badgers.
Hibbs had runs of 17 and 31 yards to spark an eight-play, 65-yard touchdown drive that was culminated by Dexter Mayberry's 6-yard touchdown run on third-and-goal. Kyle Patek's first of three first-half extra points made it 7-0 with 9:14 left in the second quarter.
The Comanches forced a Ben Bolt punt, which was fielded by Cody Franke at the Shiner 24. Franke ran into a wall of Badgers at the 27 before breaking loose down the right sideline for a 76-yard touchdown return with 6:37 remaining until halftime.
"I ran into a bunch of people and after I came out, I opened my eyes and saw open field," Franke said.
After Ben Bolt, which ended the year at 6-5, went three-and-out, the Comanches put together an eight-play, 78-yard scoring march to extend their lead to 21-0. Hibbs had a 29-yard run and Mayberry gained 15 yards on a fourth-and-6 from the Badgers' 29 to set up Hibbs' 14-yard touchdown run on the next play.
Shiner put the game away late in the third quarter with a seven-play, 63-yard touchdown drive that was kept alive on a Ben Bolt roughing-the-kicker penalty. On third-and-8 from the Badgers' 18, reserve running back Adam Kahlich scored on a sweep to the right to make it 27-0.
The Comanches' defense allowed Ben Bolt to cross midfield only three times. The Badgers managed only 9 yards rushing and Shiner sacked quarterback Alex Mejia four times for minus-36 yards.
Derick Richter and Kevin Blaschke both intercepted Mejia passes.
"Our defense has played so good the past four or five games," Cerny said. "I told the kids, to win in the playoffs, you have to start with the defense."
The Comanches appeared to survive the game without suffering any serious injuries, which was also reason to celebrate after the game.
"With all the injuries, we've had to stay focused more than ever," Franke said. "We've had to come together as a team. I think we're more together as a team now than we've ever been."
GAME STATISTICS: Shiner Ben Bolt First Downs 12 11 Yards Rushing 41-241 24-9 Yards Passing 0 128 Passes 0-2-0 12-20-2 Punts .-. .-. Fumbles-lost .-. .-. Penalties-yards .-. .-. INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS: Rushing: Ben Bolt, J.T. Lopez 9-20, Chris Zarate 1-1, David Ramirez 1-0, Alex Mejia 12-(-6), Adam Hernandez 1-(-6). Shiner, Matthew Hibbs 16-121, Dexter Mayberry 15-71, Lance Otto 3-21, Adam Kalich 2-17, Gabriel McAfee 4-9, Kevin Blaschke 1-2. Passing: Ben Bolt, Mejia 12-20-2, 128. Shiner, Hibbs 0-2-0. Receiving: Ben Bolt, Tommy Cadena 4-42, Adrian Hernandez 2-22, Ramirez 2-22, Oscar Rivera 1-18, David Hinojosa 1-8, Adam Hernandez 1-8, Zach Garcia 1-8. SCORING SUMMARY: 1 2 3 4 F Ben Bolt 0 0 0 0 -- 0 Shiner 0 21 6 0 -- 27 SCORING DETAILS: First Quarter S - Dexter Mayberry 6 run (Kyle Patek kick), 9:14 Second Quarter S - Dexter Mayberry 6 run (Kyle Patek kick), 9:14 S - Cody Franke 76 punt return (Patek kick), 6:37 S - Matthew Hibbs 14 run (Patek kick), 1:51 Third Quarter S - Adam Kalich 18 run (kick failed), 3:38 Fourth Quarter no score