WACO - Gridiron weather, bad calls, turnovers, hard nosed football and quadruple overtime - what more could you want on a Texas Friday night?
The Ennis Lions had all that and more, when they sent Waco High home from the playoffs with a 37-34 quad-overtime win.
The Lions began the game by digging themselves a huge hole. After the opening kick sailed into the end zone for a touchback, Ennis took the field at the 20. Deonte McDade zinged a pass over to Jeremy Smith, but the ball fell harmlessly to the turf for an incomplete pass. No whistle blew and Waco’s Josh Hicks picked up the pigskin to run into the end zone with the officials, Bobby Bruce and his crew from the Houston chapter of the Texas Association of Sports Officials, indicating a touch down. The play was clearly an incomplete pass and the Ennis fans looked on in shock. Despite protestations the play stood and with just nine seconds having expired off the game clock Waco led 7-0.
Still in shock, the Ennis offense was unable to move the ball after the ensuing kickoff. A short 21 yard punt against the wind gave Waco possession at the Ennis 42. But, the swarming Ennis defense stopped the vaunted Waco running attack cold, to force a punt that pinned the Ennis Lions back at the 9-yard line.
Deonte McDade took off to be finally brought down at the Waco 44. Ennis coach Sam Harrell went to his bag of tricks when he had Lee King pull up for the half back pass. King’s spiral found Michael Guinyard for the score. Ivan Solis tied the game when his extra point kick sailed true. With 9:43 to play in the first quarter the game was tied and showed signs of becoming a high scoring affair.
Ennis attempted an on-side kick that gave Waco possession with a very short 37 yard field.
A fired up Ennis defense took the field. Sam Pettigrew tackled Jarred Salubi for a 4-yard loss. Andy Laza brought down Bronsha Dugas after a 1-yard gain. Waco then went to the air. Laza almost came up with the interception, but the ball fell incomplete. Waco’s punt then rolled into the end zone for a touchback.
Harrell added a new wrinkle to his Ennis offense when he sent sophomore DJ Betik in at quarterback, moving McDade to tailback or slot receiver. McDade’s carry picked up 2-yards. Lee King burst up the middle for 10-yards and a first down. The drive stalled and Colby Threet came on to punt the ball away.
On first down, Pettigrew and Jyavon King stripped the ball from Salubi for a big turnover.
With a little over four minutes left in the first quarter, Ennis had held the high-octane Waco ground game to a total of two yards total offense.
Ennis had great field position at the Waco 39. Three runs by McDade netted a first down at the 31. On the next play, Waco’s Jamar Walker recoved a loose ball giving Waco possession.
Once again the Ennis defense rose to the occasion stopping Waco at the 42. Collin Taylor’s punt went out of bounds at the Ennis 18.
With the score knotted at 7-all, the first quarter ended as the game settled into an intense defensive battle.
After Ennis went three and out, Waco begin its first sustained drive of the game. Behind the running of Salubi, the Lions moved down the field. Laza, Reagon Walker, King, Solis and Jose Sanchez all had tackles on the drive. Then facing third-and-11 at the Ennis 27, Waco’s Clarence Willis dropped back to pass. LaQuardia Williams applied the pressure and Willis watched as his pass settled into the arms of Randall Tarrant for the interception.
Ennis was unable to move the ball and Threet came on to punt for the fourth time in the first half.
The E-town defense returned the compliment forcing Waco into a three and out series.
Beginning at the Ennis 18, the Lions picked up 11 yards up the middle by Lee King. King then carried for three. McDade turned the corner to be forced out at the 46, a pickup of 14. Bettik was sent into the ball game with 39 seconds left in the half. His fijrst play was a handoff to King that picked up 10-yards. Then from the 44, Bettik hit Cortney Brooks with a dart that gave Ennis a first down at the 18 with 25 seconds to play. King then went around the right side to cover the distance for the score. Solis added the esxtra point and E-town led 14-7 at the intermission.
The Ennis defense held Waco to just 86 yards rushing and 13 yards passing in the first half. The Ennis offense picked up 126 yards rushing and 93 yards passing in the first two quarters.
Waco had the ball to begin the second half. Salubi and Willis carried the ball seven plays and Willis hit Kyle Carter with a pass on third down to pick up 15 yards for a first down. Jason Vavra nailed Salubi after a minimal 1-yard gain. Jose Sanchez took Willis to the turf after a 4-yard carry. Facing third-and-5 Salubi got the call. Reagon Walker blasted Salubi down for a 1-yard loss to set up a 40-yard field goal attempt by Ernest Guevara. The sophomore kicking specialist pushed the ball to the right to give Ennis possession at the 23.
The Ennis drive was thwarted when Terrance Adkism intercepted a pass to give the ball back to Waco at the 31.
Waco covered the 69 yards in six plays. Salubi broke free for a 53-yard dash to tie the score at 14.
The Ennis offense responded with a drive that stalled at the Waco 3-yard line. Solis’ bid for a 21-yard field goal was wide right.
With 10 minutes left in regulation time, Waco went to work. Salubi and Willis alternated carries until Bronsha Dugas got the call on third-and-6. Ennis recovered his fumble, but the officials ruled Dugas was down before the ball came loose. With 7:14 to play, Waco dropped back into punt formation. However, the ball was snapped to upback Peter Smith, who gained eight yards to pickup the first down. Willis carried to midfield and Saulbi picked up two. In illegal substitution moved the ball back to the Ennis 48 for third down. Another Waco fumble fell to the turf but, Toylon Clark recovered to keep possession. At the Ennis 45, Ivan Solis and LaQuardia Williams blasted Salubi for no gain. The Waco running back left the game with an ankle injury.
The teams traded punts before time expired with the score deadlocked at 14 all.
If great defense was the hallmark of the four regulation periods, quick scores were the norm of the first two overtime periods.
Ennis had the ball firs. McDade ran for 4-yards. Then, he took off for a 21 yard score to put Ennis on top. Solis added the extra point.
Waco silenced the Ennis fans when Clark exploded on the first play for the 25-yard score. Guevara added the point after to send the game into the second overtime.
On first down Clark ran 17-yards to the Ennis 8-yard line. Dugas carried to the 4. Then Clark went off the right side for the score. Guevara added the kick and Waco led 28-21.
Waco stopped Lee King for 1-yard. McDade ran for one. Bettik came into the game and passed to Brooks at the 9-yard line for a first and goal situation.
McDade ran left for 5-yards. King gained to the 2, and then carried the mail into the end zone. Solis added the point after and to send the game into the third overtime.
Runs by King and McDade netted zero. Betik’s pass fell incomplete and Solis was forced to kick a 43-yard field goal to give Ennis a 31-28 lead.
Clark ran three times to gain only a yard. Guevara came on to nail a 38-yard, the longest of his career, to tie the score once again.
LaQuardia Williams and Tristen Williams tackled Dugas after a gain of 2. Clark headed left but was corralled by Vavra and Pettigrew at the 21. A bad spot by the official gave Waco the ball at the 19 instead. Willis tried a shovel pass that fell to the ground for an incompletion. Guevara hit the 37-yard field goal, but the ball was moved back 5-yards because on an illegal formation. Guevara’s 42-yard attempt cleared the crossbar with just millimeters to spare for a Waco 34-31 lead in the fourth overtime period.
The Ennis offense trotted back onto the field. McDade ran for 12-yards and a first down. King picked up a yard. McDade then exploded for the 12-yard touchdown to seal the 36-34 Ennis victory.
Although exhausted at the end of the game, the Ennis defense deserved every bit of praise that it received from the coaches and fans. Offensively, the Lions put up 361 yards and 37 points the team ranked No. 3 in Class 4A.
Ennis will move on to play South Oak Cliff at Kincaide Stadium on Friday. Game time is slated for a 1 p.m. kickoff.