SHINER - Shiner quarterback Trey Curtis had no words of inspiration for his teammates when he went into the huddle after the Comanches had gained possession of the ball at their seven-yard line with 4:16 left in the fourth quarter.
Shiner running back Chris Baer twists into the end zone with the Comanches' game-winning touchdown in their 21-17 Class 1A semifinal win last week against Big Sandy. Shiner faces Stratford on Saturday for the state title. photo by Kerri Besio, Victoria Advocate
With Shiner trailing Big Sandy 17-14 in its Class 1A semifinal game on Saturday night at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, there was very little for Curtis to say.
"I think everybody was a little scared," Curtis said. "We knew we had to come through big time or it would be the end of our season."
The Comanches responded with their most impressive drive of the season, culminating in a 2-yard touchdown run by Chris Baer with 25.2 seconds remaining that produced a 21-17 win and sent them to the state final for the second consecutive season.
Shiner (15-0) will go after its first state championship since 1986 when it meets Stratford (13-2) on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls.
"We knew we could do it," Curtis said of the winning drive. "We just had to be consistent."
The Comanches had a difficult time moving the ball against the Big Sandy defense until the game-winning drive, accounting for 155 yards and turning the ball over four times.
Shiner's touchdowns came in the first quarter on a 42-yard pass from Curtis to tight end Chase O'Connor, and an 88-yard kickoff return by Nick Evans.
"We had struggled all through the game," Curtis said. "But we just had to cross it out of our minds. We couldn't think about it because we knew we had just that drive."
Shiner set up the winning drive by using two of its timeouts before holding the Wildcats on downs and forcing a punt from the Big Sandy 37-yard line.
Shiner coach Steven Cerny elected to go for the block and sent all 11 defenders after the punt. The strategy backfired when Zach Massingill's kick got a good roll and went for 56 yards.
"The guy hadn't been punting that well," Cerny said. "I felt like we needed the block because we hadn't been moving the ball offensively and overloading the line was our best shot."
Drive to state:
Following is the play-by-play description of Shiner's game-winning, 93-yard touchdown drive against Big Sandy:1-10 SH 7 Chris Baer halfback pass to Nick Evans for 46 yards 1-10 BS 47 Baer runs left for 5 yards 2-5 BS 42 Baer runs left for 4 yards 3-1 BS 38 Baer runs left for 1 yard 1-10 BS 37 Baer runs left fumbles, recovered by Chase O'Connor for 4 yards 2-6 BS 33 Trey Curtis passes incomplete 3-6 BS 33 Baer runs right for 17 yards 1-10 BS 16 Baer runs left for 5 yards 2-5 BS 11 Shiner penalized 5 yards for illegal substitution 2-10 BS 16 Baer runs right for 12 yards (Baer hurt, leaves game) 1-G BS 4 Curtis runs right for no gain 2-G BS 4 Ryan Kloesel runs right for 2 yards 3-G BS 2 Timeout Shiner with 29.6 seconds left 3-G BS 2 Baer runs right for 2 yards and game-winning touchdown
Cerny may have regretted his decision on the punt, but he made up for it on Shiner's first play from scrimmage. He called a halfback pass for the second time in the game, and Baer took the pitch from Curtis and threw to Evans, who had beaten his man deep, for 46 yards. Evans would have scored on the play, but he fell down after catching the ball.
"I thought we needed something quick," Cerny said of the halfback pass. "If we waited until third down, they would have been looking for the pass. It was do or die. I have to give credit to Chris and Nick. There are not too many running backs who can throw a 50-yard pass, although that thing seemed to be up in the air forever."
With a first down at the Big Sandy 47, Shiner went back to its running game. Baer got the ball four straight times and produced 14 yards and a first down.
"We had time and I felt like the momentum had swung our way because we had the big play," Cerny said. "We had our best blocks all night. I have to give credit to our guys for stepping it up."
Shiner also had some good fortune when Curtis and Baer missed connections on a handoff from the Big Sandy 37 and O'Connor fell on the ball at the 33.
"That could of killed us right there," Cerny said of Shiner's sixth fumble. "We had a lot of things go against us, but we had some good fortune work for us as well. You've got to get some breaks if you're going to have a season like us."
After the fumble recovery, Curtis' pass intended for O'Connor fell incomplete before Baer gained 17 yards for a first down at the 16.
Baer gained 5 more yards, but the Comanches lost the yardage before the next play when they were penalized for breaking the huddle with 12 players.
Baer ran for 12 yards to give the Comanches a first down on the 4 with his seventh carry of the drive. But Baer fell on the ball when he was tackled, had the wind knocked out of him, and had to leave the game with 1:00 remaining.
"We called two plays," Cerny said of the time while Baer was being attended to and walked to the sideline. "We ran Trey on the keeper and (Ryan) Kloesel, (who had replaced Baer), on the sweep."
The two plays produced two yards and Shiner called its final timeout with 29.6 seconds left. Cerny sent Baer back in the game and called a sweep to the right side. If Baer was unable to score, Cerny planned to attempt a field goal to tie the game.
"We felt like our best chance was to run and to get the ball in Chris' hands," Cerny said. "He had done this time and again. You've got to make a decision and go with it. There can be no second guessing."
Baer was met by a pair of defenders near the line of scrimmage, but bulled his way into the end zone for his 38th rushing touchdown of the season.
"There was no way we wanted to play for a tie," said Baer, who carried 21 times for 118 yards. "I just drove my feet and got into the end zone."
As a result of its game-winning drive against Big Sandy, Shiner faces another long drive this weekend. But it's one the Comanches are looking forward to making.
"We have confidence that we can do it," Curtis said. "We just have to get everything straight. We want to come out better than we did last year."
NOTES: Shiner will be the home team in the state final game to be held at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls (about 100 miles northwest of Fort Worth) ... maps are available online ... Tickets will be $5 for students and $10 for adults and will only be available at the gate ... Chartered buses will be available to take Shiner fans to the game and back. The fee is $42 per person. The buses will leave Saturday at approximately 9 a.m. from the Spoetzl Brewery parking lot in Shiner. The deadline for reservations is today at noon. To make reservations, phone Janie Boehm at 361-594-2462, Denise Sandelovic at 361-594-2800, or Sandra Kloesel at 361-293-1249.