MINERAL WELLS – The old football saying is – it’s always hard to beat the same team twice in a season. Well, Brock was able to beat Paradise for the second time this year, but it was an absolute battle.
In a defensive bout to the very end, Brock was victorious 21-7 over its District 4-3A D1 counterpart during the Region 1 final on Thursday at Ram Stadium.
Brock (11-3), #4 in the 3A state rankings, heads to its SIXTH state semifinal in 10 years of existence. The Eagles will face Malakoff in the semis for the second straight season. Malakoff beat Winnsboro in the Region 2 final 58-20 on Friday.
The two teams will meet in the semis at 7 pm Thursday from The Star in Frisco.
Brock beat Malakoff last year 21-10.
The Eagles improved to 6-3 in the regional final round all-time, reaching it in all but one year – in 2020 when they lost to Jim Ned 19-16 in the regional semis.
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Neither offense could get it going in the opening 12 minutes.
Brock and Paradise were scoreless after the first quarter. Both the Eagles and Panthers punted on their first possession. The Panthers surprised Brock with an onside attempt to open the game, which they recovered thanks to senior Callahan Moritz.
But the Eagles D stood tall and forced a punt on fourth-and-15.
Paradise then ran eight plays on its second drive, but turned the ball over on downs after Brock’s Hunter Fay stopped a run on fourth-and-inches.
But Brock would give the ball away two plays later when Conner Poe intercepted a pass attempt – giving Paradise the ball at its own 42.
But after another Paradise punt, Brock would find the end zone.
The Eagles embarked on an 11-play 84-yard drive. They nearly fumbled it away on the first play, but recovered. Then QB Brody Woods hit WR Britton Burrows for a 31-yard gain. After four straight runs, Woods and Burrows hooked up again for 37 yards to push Brock to the Paradise 5.
On fourth-and-goal from the 2, Cam Harris punched it in with on a rushing touchdown to give Brock a 7-0 lead with 9:18 left in the second quarter.
Harris also stars at linebacker and on the baseball team.
He’s committed to play baseball at Houston.
Paradise (12-2), #9 in the final 3A state rankings, was in the regional final for the first time in program history. The Panther responded on the ensuing drive, but after killing off seven minutes – they came away empty handed.
Starting at their own 28, the Panthers ran 16 plays. On third-and-10 at the Brock 28, Jesse Rusinek intercepted a pass and returned it 80 yards to the 2 before being tackled by Paradise QB Austin Iglesias.
But Brock was flagged for defensive holding, bringing the ball back for the Panthers and giving them a fresh set of downs at the Eagles 18. The Panthers did get a first-and-goal at the 6 and pushed it to the 2, but on third down, they couldn’t get a clean snap and the ball rolled back for a loss of 16.
Eventually, they would attempt a 35-yard field goal, but the try was low and wide right, keeping it Brock 7-0 with under 2:30 left in the half.
The Eagles would take that lead into the break.
Again, both defenses shined to start the third quarter until Brock scored with under three minutes left in the period. The Eagles went 80 yards on nine plays. Woods connected with Burrows for 17 yards and RB Vance Gutherie rushed for 31 to the Paradise 15.
Back to back negative plays set up a third-and-18.
Gutherie would rush for nine which would’ve set up fourth down, but Paradise was flagged for a facemask giving Brock a first-and-goal at the 7. Two plays later and the Eagles were able to tack onto the lead. Woods scored from three yards out to push the lead to 14-0 with 2:23 left in the third.
The Panthers answered the bell on the next drive with their only score.
They went 70 yards on 14 plays. After eating up five minutes off the clock, Iglesias called his own number and rushed in a 5-yard touchdown to make it 14-7 with 9:20 left in the game.
Despite the momentum sideline, Brock shut it down with its third TD four minutes later – putting the game on ice.
Woods and Burrows connected on their fourth pass of 20+ yards – 23 to be correct – and then Woods hit Brett Tutter for a gain of 22 yards to the Panthers’ 16. Woods would score his second rushing touchdown for a 21-7 lead with 5:38 to play.
Carson Finney intercepted a pass for Brock with 4:13 on the clock.
Woods later stiff armed a defender on the final drive to move the chains and Brock was able to kill the clock. Woods ran 19 times for a game-high 65 yards. He also passed for 161 yards on 9 of 11 attempts. Burrows added four grabs for 108 yards – an average 27 yards per catch.
The Brock D held Paradise to 44 yards on 29 carries and 181 yards overall.
Iglesias did all hie could – not 100% – ending with 36 yards on 16 carries and 140 yards passing on 17 of 31 attempts. Ayden Winters was his favorite target with 92 yards receiving on 11 catches.
Brock had beat Paradise 26-14 in Week 9.
The Eagles moved to 11-0 all time against the Panthers.
Brock is 4-1 in the state semifinals. Head coach Billy Mathis, who came on in March of 2021, is looking to take the team to the state championship game for the third straight season in as many years.
They lost to Lorena in the 3A D1 title game in 2021 and Franklin last season. Brock lost to Rockdale in the 2017 final and won its only championship in 2015 over Cameron Yoe in Houston.
Mathis came from Weatherford, where he spent four years as head coach. Before Weatherford, Matthis played and coached at Aledo – where he helped the Bearcats to three state championships.