Written by Corbett Smith
Poteet, injured QB Beau Nowell fall just short of state title berth
MANSFIELD - It was as if Roy Hobbs never hit his home run at the end of The Natural. Or if Rocky Balboa didn't go the distance with Apollo Creed.
Mesquite Poteet quarterback Beau Nowell, who was carried off the field with a leg injury late in the first half Friday, hobbled back onto the field near the start of the second half in a Class 4A Division II state semifinal against Aledo.
Nowell said a doctor told him his leg might be broken, but he wanted to return to the game.
"I knew we were in trouble. He's the heart and soul of our team," Poteet coach Randy Jackson said.
But there Nowell was, gutting it out after halftime. He willed his team to 14 straight points, with Poteet taking the lead into the fourth quarter.
These Poteet giant-killers, 1-19 over the last two seasons, had playoff wins this year over Highland Park and Whitehouse. Aledo is the defending 4A Division II state champion.
Alas, it didn't have a storybook ending.
Aledo, on the strength of a two-point conversion by running back Johnathan Gray and a two-point conversion stop by cornerback Connor Bradham, squeaked by Poteet, 29-27, at Vernon Newsom Stadium. Aledo (15-0) will face La Marque in the state championship game at 8 p.m. Friday at Cowboys Stadium.
Gray - one of the most highly touted juniors in the country - scored on a 7-yard touchdown run, then converted a two-point conversion with 3:44 remaining to put Aledo ahead, 29-21.
Aledo coach Tim Buchanan said that going for two late in the game wasn't out of desperation, but necessity. In its 18-10 win over Stephenville in the quarterfinals, Aledo missed all three extra-point attempts, with two misses and one block.
"I already made my mind up that if we scored again, I was going for two," Buchanan said. "Made my mind up last Friday night, I think. We were going for two."
Nowell led Poteet (12-3) back down the field after the conversion, throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Paul Kamanda with 1:57 remaining.
"Nobody has more heart than this team," Nowell said.
But Poteet's two-point conversion, a pass from Nowell to Courtland Crumby in the flat, was broken up by Bradham.
Bradham also recovered the second of two onside kicks to essentially seal the win for Aledo. The first onside kick was recovered by Poteet but was waived off for an offsides penalty.