Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Football: Pilot Point runs away with state title
SAN MARCOS -- Henry Melvin Davis is smiling somewhere.
And he is smiling with a lot of Pilot Point football players and fans.
Before Davis died of cancer two weeks ago he told his sons -- Pilot Point running back Jarman Johnson and safety Willie Davis -- to win a state title for him.
His wish was his sons' command on Saturday during the Bearcats' Class 2A Division I championship game against Kirbyville at Bobcat Stadium.
Led by Johnson's four touchdowns and 242 yards rushing, Pilot Point won its first state since 1981 by beating Kirbyville, 35-18.
"This one is for you. This one is for everyone," Johnson said while pointing to the sky. "My dad, I love him. And right now he is probably dancing in his grave."
Enter Willie Davis.
"This is an amazing feeling," he said. "My dad would have loved to see this right now. I know he is smiling right now. During halftime we chanted his initials, 'HMD, HMD.' We did it for him."
The win also completes a perfect season for Pilot Point (15-0), whose 2008 campaign ended in the state semifinals.
"Ever since we lost last year, our team has had great focus of getting to this game and winning it," said Pilot Point head coach Blake Feldt. "I can't tell you how proud I am of these kids. They deserved this."
The game was a battle of two of the best running backs in the state -- Johnson and LeFredrick Ford from Kirbyville, who rushed for three touchdowns and 276 yards.
"He was good, and I wasn't worried about what he was doing, though," Johnson said. "I was just thinking about what I needed to do to win."
Pilot Point did just about everything right in the second half to claim the trophy.
After Kirbyville cut the lead to three, at 21-18 early in the third quarter, Pilot Point was shut down on offense and the Wildcats had the ball near midfield with a chance to take the lead.
Then the Bearcats defense made its first key stop by forcing a three-and-out to get the ball back.
"At halftime we talked about having better intensity," Feldt said. "I told them we have two more quarters left to win a state title, so we just had to go play with what got us here."
After the stop, Pilot Point drove 62 yards in almost six minutes to take a 28-18 lead on a Johnson 1-yard rushing score late in the third quarter. All five of Pilot Point's scoring drives took six plays or more, as the offense concentrated on the running game that had paved the way all season.
"We wanted to control the ball on the ground," Johnson said. "We knew we could run on them."
Kirbyville had a chance to cut the lead to single digits again, but Ford was stopped on the ensuing possession on fourth-and-2 at Pilot Point's 15.
"We made stops when we needed to make stops," Davis said. "When it counted we made the stops. [Ford] was a load but we stopped him at the right times."
Pilot Point wasn't finished scoring after that.
Johnson scored his final touchdown of his career to checkmate the Wildcats on a 20-yard run with a little more than six minutes to play. In the final minute, he also had a 77-yard touchdown called back because of an offensive penalty. The run would have put him over 3,000 rushing yards for the season.
"I don't care about 3,000 yards at this point," he said. "Sure it would have been nice, but winning is always what I wanted."
The 5-10 senior finished the year with 2,981 yards rushing and 41 rushing touchdowns.
"He is unbelievable," Feldt said. "The whole season he has been outstanding. You can't say enough about him."
Kirbyville had two more chances to get in the end zone late in the game, but Pilot Point's defense stopped Ford again on fourth-and-goal at the 1. The final stop came when Tyler McNairy intercepted a pass to seal the win in the closing seconds.
"I thought in the second half our defense did a super job of making plays," Feldt said. "They made some big, big plays."
Pilot Point got off to a quick start on offense and defense to open the game. The Bearcats scored on their opening drive by going 74 yards on six plays capped by a Johnson 43-yard touchdown run.
On Kirbyville's first play from scrimmage, Ford fumbled and Justin Chambers recovered the ball for the Bearcats. Six plays later the Bearcats found themselves already up 14-0 after quarterback Seth Tilley rushed in from 4 yards out.
"That is what you want to do in a state title game," Feldt said. "We kind of set the tone."
But Kirbyville was quick to answer.
After a 50-yard kickoff return by Caleb Cucanic, Ford took the handoff at the 42-yard line and raced untouched on a sweep play to get Kirbyville on the board with 6:33 left in the first frame.
The extra point failed on a bad snap, but the Wildcats cut the lead to 14-12 when Ford scored his second touchdown of the half early in the second quarter.
The two-point conversion failed to help Pilot Point stay on top.
The Bearcats remained on top at the break by padding their lead to 21-12 late in the second quarter.
They drove 66 yards in 13 plays to eat up almost seven minutes of clock. The drive was capped by Johnson, who rushed in from 1 yard out on fourth-and-goal.
"That is really when we got going," Johnson said.
And now the state title is going back to Pilot Point.
"This has been a long time coming," Feldt said. "We have had such great tradition at Pilot Point and I am so proud that the kids worked so hard for this."
MATTHEW MUENCH can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Pilot Point 35, Kirbyville 18
Pilot Point 14 7 7 7 -- 35
Kirbyville 6 6 6 0 -- 18
PP-Jarman Johnson 43 run (Ruben Martinez kick) 9:52
PP-Seth Tilley 4 run (Martinez kick) 6:52
K-LeFredrick Ford 42 run (kick failed) 6:33
K-Ford 14 run (run failed) 10:03
PP-Johnson 1 run (Martinez kick) 1:50
K-Ford 3 run (kick failed) 10:45
PP-Johnson 3 run (Martinez kick) 2:23
PP-Johnson 20 run (Martinez kick) 6:57
First downs 17 14
Rushing yards 49-303 40-349
Passing yards 103 59
Total yards 406 408
Comp-att-int 7-17-1 4-12-1
Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-2
Punts-avg 3-33.3 1-43
Penalties 5-35 7-47
Rushing : PP-Jarman Johnson 37-242, Seth Tilley 12-61. K-LeFredrick Ford 32-276, Kael Jones 1-8, Burman Ervine 3-56, Caleb Cucanic 1-4, JaMichael Ervine 3-5.
Passing : PP-Seth Tilley 7-17-1-103. K-Kael Jones 4-12-1-59.
Receiving: PP-Tyler McNairy 3-51, Gareth Gengenbach 1-17, Aaron Buckingham 1-11, J.P. Price 2-24. K-Caleb Cucanic 2-12, LeFredrick Ford 2-47.