By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
On heart, determination and everything else you want in a football team, Frost beat Tenaha on Friday night.
Only the scoreboard didn't show it.
Frost fumbled a snap on the last play of the game, with a second left and with a second-and-goal at the Tenaha 2, allowing the Tigers to sneak out of Van Memorial Stadium with a 34-30 victory over the Polar Bears in Friday night's Region III-1A DII final.
Frost equaled the 1989 Polar Bear team's 12-2 record and regional final appearance for the deepest trip in the playoffs in school history. Tenaha advances to the state semfinals, where the Tigers will face Falls City.
Frost needed to drive the ball 64 yards in 5 minutes, 13 seconds to win the game and finish off perhaps the best comeback in school history. The Polar Bears trailed 26-8 late in the first half before briefly taking a 30-26 lead in the fourth quarter.
Tenaha's Chavis Gregory scored on a 17-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers back the lead at 34-30, setting up the dramatic finish.
The Polar Bears, with three timeouts, methodically moved the ball down, using 16 plays to get to the Tenaha 2. Frost converted two fourth-down conversions. The Bears ran a statue of liberty play for a first down. Danial Steels was stopped at the 2 with a second left as Frost coaches frantically called their final timeout. Time actually ran out, but the officials but a second back up, setting up an unbelievable finish.
Frost had the play called for Steels on a cross lead to the right behind the strong side of their line, Cody McGill and Joshua Frazier. Fullback Woody Woods crossed over the line got the push. The seam appeared there for Steels to score. But quarterback Jacob Stroder, who played valiantly, couldn't get the handle the snap, the ball kicked away from him at the 5 and he fell on it at the 12 with no time on the clock.
Several Frost players fell to the ground while Tenaha, the defending 1A DII state champions, celebrated its narrow escape.
It looked in the first half like Frost wouldn't get in a position to win the game. Tenaha jumped out to a 20-0 lead as Gregory, who finished with 125 yards, crashed through the secondary and also threw a touchdown pass to quarterback JR Hill, who threw one himself too.
The final minute of the first half changed the game. Stroder hit Worley on a post for 46 yards to the Tenaha 6. After a false start, Stroder threw a perfect fade pass to Josh Riojas for an 11-yard score. Riojas also caught a pass for a 2-point conversion to make it 20-8.
Tenaha then appeared to score a crushing touchdown as Hill found Keontas Davis for a 51-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds left to give the Tigers a 26-8 lead.
Steels made the big play of the half though, breaking loose for a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, breaking two tackles at his own 40-yard line and sprinting in for a score. Another two-point conversion, this one by Steels made it 26-16 at halftime.
Frost took advantage of a fumbled punt by Davis early in the third quarter to inch closer. Steels scored on a 1-yard run to make it 26-22.
The Polar Bears then took their first lead on a vintage Frost drive, going 85 yards in 13 plays and running off 7:32 off the clock. Steels capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run and scored on a two-point conversion for a 30-26 lead with 10:07 left in the game.
Tenaha produced a championship drive and used up valuable time on the clock. The Tigers marched 75 yards and took 4:49 off the clock, some valuable seconds that maybe haunted the Polar Bears at the end.
Still, Frost did what does, plowing right into the heart of the Tenaha defense, taking the Tigers to the limit.
The Bears just couldn't make that one last play.
Tenaha 34, Frost 30
Frost 0 16 6 8 -- 30
Tenaha 6 20 0 8 -- 34
T -- Chavis Gregory 9 run (run failed), 9:40
T -- JR Hill 17 pass from Gregory (kick blocked), 11:19
T -- Keontas Davis 26 pass from Hill (Tyre Barnes pass from Hill), 1:41
F -- Josh Riojas 12 pass from Jacob Stroder (Riojas from Stroder), :37
T -- Davis 51 pass from Hill (kick failed), :19
F -- Danial Steels 91 kickoff return (Steels run), :05
F -- Steels 1 run (run failed), 7:23
F -- Steels 10 run (Steels run), 10:07
T -- Gregory 17 run (TJ Thomas pass from Gregory), 5:18
First downs 16 18
Rushes-Yards 46-188 34-235
Passing yards 70 61
C-A-I 3-7-0 4-10-0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 4-3
Punts-yards 4-29 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-35 3-20
Rushing -- F: Danial Steels 21-83, Woody Woods 15-85, Robert Worley 8-29, Jacob Stroder 3-(-9). T: Chavis Gregory 20-125, JR Hill 10-76, Cobe Caraway 4-34.
Passing -- F: Stroder 3-6-0-70, Worley 0-1-0-0. T: Hill 2-6-0-33, Gregory 2-4-0-28.
Receiving -- F: Worley 1-41, Cody Campbell 1-17, Josh Riojas 1-12. T: Keontas Davis 2-33, Hill 1-17, D'Andre Thomas 1-11.