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Chargers roar past Calallen, land first trip to state semifinals


Boerne Champion football coach Keith Kaiser knows it sounds trite, but it’s the only way he can explain it.

No matter the odds, no matter how dire the situation appears, the Chargers seem to thrive in adverse conditions.

Saturday was a prime example.

Against a nemesis who had ended past promising seasons, Champion rose to the occasion and outlasted Corpus Christi Calallen 49-42 in a Class 5A Division II state quarterfinal contest at the Alamodome.

The Chargers (13-1) advanced to the state semifinals for the first time and will play Fort Bend Marshall at 3 p.m. Saturday at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field in College Station.

“This is a special group,” Kaiser said. “I know I said it over and over, and it probably sounds redundant and silly, but they believe in each other so much. They kept bailing each other out. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Sparked by a swarming defense and big plays in the passing game and on special teams, the Chargers had a reply for everything that Calallen (12-2) threw at them. It allowed Champion to overcome an early two-touchdown deficit.

The pivotal moment came during a seven-minute span in the fourth quarter.

Boerne Champion WR Davis Pike heads in for a late fourth-quarter score that all but put the game away.

Boerne Champion WR Davis Pike heads in for a late fourth-quarter score that all but put the game away.

Photo: Billy Calzada /Staff Photographer

Photo: Billy Calzada /Staff Photographer

Boerne Champion WR Davis Pike heads in for a late fourth-quarter score that all but put the game away.

Boerne Champion WR Davis Pike heads in for a late fourth-quarter score that all but put the game away.

Photo: Billy Calzada /Staff Photographer

Chargers roar past Calallen, land first trip to state semifinals

Champion took the lead for good when junior running back Tamari Jenkins raced untouched for a 20-yard touchdown, giving Champion its first lead at 35-28 with 11:53 left in the game.

The Chargers earned the cushion they needed to hang on a few minutes later when defensive lineman Walker Scott recovered a fumble in the end zone to make it 41-28 with 4:52 to play. Teammate Landon Eades stripped the ball from Calallen quarterback Jarrett Garza.

It was an exclamation point on a defensive performance that saw Champion limited Calallen’s run-oriented attack to 171 rushing yards on 48 attempts. The Wildcats entered the contest averaging 338.5 yards a game.

“As a defensive lineman, I love when they run,” Eades said. “When we were watching film, we knew what we had to prepare for, and we executed. I think it was a team effort, the offense scoring every chance they got; just everybody making great plays.”

The offensive highlights included two long passes from quarterback Luke Boyers to sophomore wide receiver Davis Pike. The second was a 96-yard scoring strike on third-and-10 with 3½ minutes remaining. The first was an 89-yard TD on third-and-14 that jump-started the Chargers, who had punted three times and lost a fumble on their first four drives up to that point.

“The makeup of this team, that hasn’t bothered them,” Kaiser said after Champion defeated Calallen for the first time in four meetings. “You believe, you believe, and all of sudden something happens, and they go ‘There it is, now let’s roll.’”

Wide receiver Ryan Brandon returned a kickoff 86 yards for a TD in the third quarter and caught a 24-yard scoring toss in fourth down with 1:41 left in the first half to tie it at 14 at halftime.

Limited to no first downs and only four yards in the first quarter, Calallen found its groove in the early in the second quarter. The Wildcats led 14-0 halfway through the second stanza when Garza scored on a 1-yard run. They took a 7-0 advantage 62 seconds into the second quarter when running back Jeremiah Earls scored on a 26-yard run.

Earls rushed for 178 yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Stephen Paul had three receptions for 77 yards, including a 7-yard TD with 58 seconds that pulled Calallen within 49-42.

Champion, however, recovered an ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.

tthomas@express-news.net

Twitter: @en_terrence

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