VICTORIA -- Much like their first encounter this season on Halloween night, Friday night’s playoff rematch between the Shiner Comanches and the Falls City Beavers quickly turned into a defensive struggle.
But unlike that first game, which ended in a 7-0 Beaver victory, turnovers and field position gave the Comanches the edge as they prevailed for a 16-14 win in the Class-A state quarterfinals.
Turnovers played a part early in the game, when the Comanches forced Beaver quarterback B.J. Sixto to fumble on the third play of the game. Linebacker Steven Evans pounced on the loose ball at the Falls City 1-yard line. On the next play, quarterback Garet Pustka followed center Kevin Berger into the end zone to give the Comanches a lead they would never relinquish. Backup kicker Ryan Kloesel’s extra point put Shiner up 7-0 just 37 seconds into the game.
Shiner extended its lead to 13-0 on Pustka’s 24-yard run at the 11:52 mark of the fourth quarter. The Beavers blocked Kloesel’s extra-point attempt, and after the ensuing kickoff, the Beavers rallied.
They quickly marched 78 yards to the end zone, cutting the Comanches’ lead to 13-7. Sixto got the drive started with a screen pass to Joe Theis that went for 41 yards to the Shiner 37. After three incompletions, it appeared the Beavers’ drive would end there. But on fourth down, Sixto found Derek Sturm open in the middle of the field for a 37-yard touchdown. Jim Ed Baugh’s extra point made the score 13-7 with 11:01 remaining.
Chris Baer returned the ensuing kickoff 27 yards to set Shiner up at its own 44-yard line. Runs by Baer and Quentin Wright moved the Comanches to the Beavers’ 43. On third-and-8, Pustka completed his only pass of the game for a key first down. Flanker Nick Evans took Pustka’s short pass and turned it into a 30-yard gain and a first down at the Beavers’ 13-yard line. Although Shiner’s drive stalled at the 5, Kloesel kicked a 22-yard field, which would stand up as the game-winning score.
Falls City narrowed the gap to 16-14 after Sixto capped a 72-yard drive with a 1-yard quarterback sneak. Sixto set up the score with a 26-yard strike to wide receiver Joey Wiatrek, who made a diving catch at the 1- yard line.
Although the Comanches’ next drive stalled at their own 41, they would use field position to their advantage, punting the ball away to the Falls City 17. Two penalties pushed the Beavers back to their own 7. The Beavers reached their own 28, but defensive pressure resulted in two sacks against Sixto and an incompletion to end the game.
The Beavers’ finished the season with a record of 13-1. Shiner improved its record to 13-1 and will play the winner of the Chilton-Bosqueville game in the Class-A state semifinals.