CUERO - A dominating third quarter by Shiner on both sides of the ball broke up a tight game and lifted the Comanches to a 35-0 regional win over Flatonia Friday at Cuero High School.
Shiner gained 143 yards and scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 28-0 lead. The Comanches defense held the Bulldogs to negative 10 yards rushing and no completed passes in the third quarter.
The defense kept it up in the fourth quarter to pitch Shiner's first shutout since the opening game of the season against Industrial.
"Getting the shutout was a huge step and a big confidence builder," said defensive end Caleb Kalich. "It wasn't just one person. The entire defense made big plays in the game."
Shiner (9-3) has now advanced to the state quarterfinals for the third straight season. They will take on Thorndale (9-2) in a Class 1A, Division I matchup next week.
Comanche coach Steven Cerny was pleased with his defense, which gave up just seven first downs and didn't allow Flatonia to cross midfield until the fourth quarter.
"Our defense has been outstanding all year," Cerny said. "Our front seven is really strong. Our secondary is feisty. They came up with some big hits tonight. They aren't very big, but they play hard."
While the defense set the tone, Shiner only led 7-0 at halftime. They received the kickoff to start the second half and immediately took the momentum. Senior Marcus Coleman gained 40 yards on a pitch play on the first snap of the half. Three plays later, he scored on a 10-yard run.
Coleman was just getting started. He ran for 90 of his game-high 103 yards in the third quarter and scored on a pair of 4-yard touchdown runs.
"Marcus gave us that fresh spurt we really needed," Cerny said. "I gave him credit for stepping his game up tonight."
Flatonia (9-3) was making its first regional round appearance since 2002. They came into the game having won 9 of the past 10, but had dropped 14 in a row to Shiner in the series.
Flatonia's second play from scrimmage was a 16-yard pass from Will Bruns to Gus Venegas. The Comanche defense stiffened as the Bulldogs lost six yards on the next three plays and had to punt.
There was only one more first down the rest of the first quarter as both team's defenses were quick to react to runs up the middle and pitches to the edge.
"They were messing with us with their inside linebackers on some stunts, and we didn't pick it up early," Cerny said. "We started to get a better feel for what they were doing later on."
On its third possession, Shiner inched the ball across midfield on a 12-yard run by Tyler Patek. One play later, the Comanches faced a fourth and inches at the Flatonia 47. Cerny decided to go for it and Jacob Stafford easily picked up the first down on a 3-yard quarterback keeper.
Later on the drive, Shiner faced fourth and two at the 36. This time Stafford dropped back and found an open Patek for a 9-yard gain. Three plays later, Stafford scored on a 15-yard touchdown run.
Shiner's final score of the night came when Kalich returned a fumble 17 yards for the touchdown.
"I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time," he said. "I ran for my life. It was awesome to get my first defensive touchdown. It's something I will never forget."