CONVERSE — The No. 2 ranked and previously undefeated Shiner Comanches football team will never forget what happened to them on Friday night at D.W. Rutledge Stadium in Converse, Texas in their playoff game against top-ranked and undefeated Refugio.
After building a two-touchdown lead with just over seven minutes left to play in the fourth quarter, a series of events unfolded that led to an epic Shiner collapse and defeat as Refugio rallied late in the game to steal a 45-43 victory on a field goal just before time expired.
You had to be there to believe it.
For over three quarters, Shiner slugged it out with Refugio and had taken control of the line of scrimmage. Shiner scored a touchdown on a 38-yard run by Donyei Murray with just over seven minutes left to give the Comanches a 37-22 lead. And then the unthinkable happened.
On Refugio’s next play, Refugio quarterback Austin Ochoa hit wide receiver Jordan Kelly on a 66-touchdown pass. Suddenly, with 6:55 left to play in the game, Shiner’s lead was reduced to seven points following Refugio’s successful two-point conversion.
Shiner came right back, however, and went on what appeared to be a game-clinching eight-play, 85-yard touchdown drive. Doug Brooks carried the pigskin into the end zone from three-yards out after Dalton Brooks had ripped off a 55-yard run to put the Comanches into the Refugio red zone. Shiner missed the extra point attempt, but they had run a precious 3:50 off the clock and held a commanding 43-30 lead with just three minutes left to go.
Following the ensuing kickoff, lightning struck again for Refugio as their quarterback found Kelly again on a 68-yard lightning bolt of a touchdown. Refugio was right back in the game, trailing 43-36 with 2:35 left in the game. The extra point attempt failed.
Shiner got the ball back and was looking for a couple of first downs to run the clock out. They picked up one first down and it looked the game was over. That’s when they suffered another dagger shot. Shiner fumbled the ball with 52 seconds left, and Refugio recovered at the 49-yard line. Refugio used the sideline as a time-saving weapon as Ochoa completed four short passes in a row to conserve time. Then with 33 seconds left he found favorite target Ethan Perry from 25-yards out for a touchdown and suddenly everything was on the line as Shiner’s lead was cut to 43-42. Refugio, sensing momentum on their side, opted to go for the two-point conversion to take the lead and most likely the victory.
However, Ochoa slipped as he was sprinting out to the right and the Comanches held. The Shiner sideline took a sigh of relief because once they got the ball back Refugio could not stop the clock often enough with under 30 seconds left in the game.
And then the unbelievable happened again. Refugio tried the onside kick and recovered the football! The crowd was stunned. The Shiner sideline sat tense while Refugio was going wild. Could Shiner hold off Refugio for 27 seconds?
Ochoa hit a couple of quick passes, and with 12 seconds left on the clock they lined up to try a field goal from the 19-yard line. Refugio brought in its kicker — who had just missed an extra point try badly a few minutes before — and he nailed it to make 45-43 with only eight seconds left.
Shiner tried a trick play on the kickoff return but Refugio stopped the trickery. Just like that the game was over, No. 1 had beaten No. 2 with a miracle rally in the battle of titans, and that was the end.
Refugio started the scored first on a 16-yard touchdown by its starting halfback at 4:06 of the first, then converted the two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead.
Shiner quickly responded on its next drive as Murray carried the mail from 22-yards out. Following Connor Wiggenwerter’s extra point it was 8-7 at the 2:08 of the first quarter.
Shiner stopped Refugio on its next possession and then found lightning in a bottle as Murray scooted 76-yards for a Comanches touchdown at 10:42 of the second quarter. A successful extra point put the Comanches up 14-8. Shiner was up 17-8 when Refugio scored a touchdown in the third quarter to cut the lead 17-14. On its next two possessions Murray ripped off touchdown runs of 83- and 28-yards giving Shiner a 31-14 lead with 3:39 left in the third quarter. Austin Ochoa scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to narrow the gap to 31-22 following a successful 2-point conversion.
With the devastating heart-breaking loss, Shiner ends the season 12-1 and wondering forever what might have been.