WOODROW — After Stratford running back Colten Rendon broke a 46-yard run and place-kicker Gonzalo Eizmendi added the extra point, the Elks led the Anson Tigers by 18 points and appeared to be on their way to an easy victory.
However, the Tigers rallied, and the Elks needed an interception by Rendon, who also plays defensive back, with 18 seconds left to preserve a 21-16 victory in a Region I-1A Division I area playoff Friday night at Pirate Stadium.
Stratford (10-1) advanced to face Panhandle, a 33-16 winner against Seymour, in the next round at a time and site to be determined. Anson, 0-10 a year ago as a Class 2A school, finished 10-2.
“We’d been working so hard this year that I knew it wouldn’t be the end for us,” Rendon said. “I just put it in God’s hands.”
“Anson has a great team,” Stratford head coach Eddie Metcalf said. “They tried to make the play, and we ended up making it.”
Anson, which never led, pulled within 21-16 on quarterback Jalen Garza’s 49-yard touchdown run with 10:16 left to play. Anson failed to score on the two-point conversion attempt.
Stratford went on a time-consuming drive. The Elks picked up five first downs on the drive, but running back Christian Martinez fumbled. Garza, who also plays defensive back for Anson, recovered at the Anson 11 with 4:56 left to play.
Garza kept for 14 yards on first down. Two plays after that, he found receiver Stetson Meek for 17 yards and a first down on the Anson 38.
Stratford appeared to be close to a stop as Anson faced fourth-and-8 on its own 40. After a timeout, Garza found Meek for 10 yards and a first down at midfield.
Four plays after that, the Elks forced Anson into another fourth-down situation, and consecutive false start penalties on the Tigers meant a fourth-and-15 from the Anson 45. Garza kept the drive alive with a 16-yard pass to receiver Hayden Stovall to the Stratford 39.
Anson drew closer with an 11-yard Garza keeper. Garza completed a 12-yard pass to receiver Isaiah Garcia for a first down on the Stratford 12.
Anson drove to a first down at the Stratford 12. But Elk defensive lineman Trevor Melton batted Garza’s first-down pass away. Garza’s next pass went off Stovall’s hands. On third down, Garza’s pass sailed past Meek. Rendon intercepted on fourth down.
“All you can do is hope your kids can rise to the occasion,” Metcalf said. “They (the Tigers) made two fourth-down plays in that last drive, so give them credit.”
The Tiger defense corralled Alex Chavoya, Stratford’s leading rusher, to 64 yards on 15 carries. However, running Kelby Hartman helped pick up the slack as he rushed 16 times for 126 yards and scored on runs of one and 25 yards. Rendon scored the other touchdown on his 46-yard run.
As for Anson, running back Mitchell Hudson rushed 15 times for 157 yards and scored on a two-yard run. Garza ran 17 times for 152 yards and scored on a 49-yard run. Stovall scored the remaining points on a 28-yard field goal.
With Anson out of the way, Panhandle awaits.
“This time of year, that’s a great thing,” Metcalf said. “For the kids and the coaches, there’s nothing better in my mind.”
- 12/7/12 - Wellington wallops Sudan
- 12/7/12 - Follett advances to state title game
- 12/7/12 - Bulldogs take bite out of Elks
- 12/1/12 - Stratford too strong for Panhandle
- 12/1/12 - Skyrockets thump Springlake-Earth
- 12/1/12 - Booker QB Lile breaks 2 passing marks in loss
- 11/30/12 - Follett routs Matadors
- 11/24/12 - Skyrockets zoom past Bovina
- 11/24/12 - Canadian takes out No. 9 Cisco, 27-20
- 11/24/12 - Wheeler falls to Wolverines
Stratford 21, Anson 16
Stratford 7 7 7 0 — 21
Anson 0 3 7 6 — 16
STR—Kelby Hartman 1 run (Gonzalo Eizmendi kick)
STR—Hartman 25 run (Eizmendi kick)
ANS—FG Hayden Stovall 28
STR—Colten Rendon 46 run (Eizmendi kick)
ANS—Mitchell Hudson 2 run (Stovall kick)
ANS—alen Garza 49 run (pass failed)
First Downs 16 15
Rushes-yards 44-260 33-306
Passing yards 29 72
Passes 3-5-0 6-21-1
Punts 3-31.3 3-34.6
Penalties 3-25 5-30
Fumbles 2-2 1-1
RUSHING: Stratford: Hartman, 15-126; Alex Chavoya, 15-64; Rendon, 4-48; Christian Martinez, 5-29; Tanner Wright 4-(-7); Anson: Hudson, 15-157; Garza, 17-152; Tyler Jimenez, 1-(-3).
PASSING: Stratford: Wright, 3-5-0-29; Anson: Garza, 6-21-1-72.
RECEIVING: Stratford: Rendon, 1-19; Chavoya, 1-7; Hartman, 1-3; Anson, Stetson Meek, 4-36; Isaiah Garcia, 2-20; Stovall, 1-16.