NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — For the second time in three years, Grace Community's season ended in heartbreak at the hands of Fort Worth Christian.
The Cardinals tied the game with 23 seconds left and stopped the Cougars on a two-point conversion try in overtime to score a 35-34 win in the TAPPS Division II area playoffs Friday at Barrow Field.
"It hurts real bad," Grace coach Mike Maddox said. "The more you invest, the more it hurts."
Grace took its first lead with 7:10 to play as Kade Clayton burst in from 7 yards out, but Fort Worth Christian came back with a 13-play drive that ended on a 13-yard pass from Caleb Davis to Reese Herring to send the game to overtime tied at 28.
Cardinals senior Chase Hamilton scored his fourth touchdown of the night on the fifth play of the first overtime series. Clayton then ran five straight times and scored on a 5-yard run.
After each team called a timeout, the Cougars lined up in a two-back set to attempt to win the game.
"It was unanimous from the kids," Maddox said. "They locked in and they wanted to win it right there."
However, Grace lost the ball, Fort Worth Christian pounced on it and the Cougars' (8-3) season was over.
In 2010, Grace lost a fumble in the final minutes, allowing Fort Worth Christian to steal a win in Tyler.
The Cardinals (8-3) will play Dallas Christian next week in the regional round.
Hamilton had 80 yards to go with his four touchdowns for Fort Worth Christian, which racked up 330 rushing yards on 54 carries while completing 2 of 8 passes for 22 yards. Bomani Carter ran for a game-high 142 yards for the Cardinals.
Grace senior quarterback Blake White threw for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 10 of 15 passing while rushing for 126 yards and a score. Statler Lewis turned in six catches for 99 yards, hauling in both of White's touchdown throws.
Clayton finished with 97 yards, battling through an injury like many of his teammates. All-state center Josh Boylan was told earlier in the week he had a torn ACL, but that didn't stop the senior from playing all game against the large defensive line of the Cardinals. Senior Garrett Newman also played his 11th game of the season despite suffering from rhuematoid arthritis.
"I think it inspired us," Maddox said of the injuries. "For Garrett Newman, bless his heart, we'll never know how much pain he has endured to just stay on the field."
The Cardinals went three-and-out twice on the game's series after a Grace penalty gave Fort Worth Christian a second chance after its first punt attempt. While the first punt went to the Cougars 42, the second rolled to the 9, and on third down the Cardinals recovered a fumble at the 11.
FW Christian converted that turnover into a touchdown three plays later, the first of three Hamilton touchdowns in the first half.
The two teams then went back and forth up and down the field. Grace hit back with a 15-yard touchdown from White to Lewis on fourth-and-8.
In the second quarter, Hamilton finished a nine-play drive with a 9-yard TD, only for White to score on a 68-yard run on the next play from scrimmage.
Carter had a 67-yard run on the ensuing series to set up Hamilton again from 9 yards out. Then Lewis caught his second touchdown of the half, making a nice move to the outside to turn a short pass into an 18-yard score.
The Cardinals had one possession in the third quarter, a 14-play drive that ended in a missed 35-yard field goal. Grace then took over and drove for a 14-play drive of its own, capped off by Clayton's score.
Fort Worth Christian then milked nearly the remainder of the clock on the ensuing series. The Cardinals converted a fourth-and-2 from the Grace 8 before Carter scored from 3 yards out, however the play was called back for a personal foul. Two plays later, Davis completed his team's second pass of the game to set up overtime.
Both teams ran all five plays in the overtime period and it appeared the Cougars were looking to run on the two-point try before the ball popped loose.
"You need to tell them to get ready for the next play," Maddox said.
"Obviously the next play won't be on the field but it will be on the field of life.
"I wish Fort Worth Christian the best next week. We've all got to get ready for the next play in our lives."
TAPPS Division II Area Playoff
Fort Worth Christian 35, Grace Community 34 (OT) At Barrow Field
Grace7 14 0 76 —34
FW Christian7 14 0 77 — 35
FWC—Chase Hamilton 3 run (Andrew Castaneda kick), 6:04.
GRA—Statler Lewis 15 pass from Blake White (David Fraga kick), 1:57.
FWC—Hamilton 9 run (Castaneda kick), 9:20.
GRA—White 68 run (Fraga kick), 8:57.
FWC—Hamilton 9 run (Castaneda kick), 6:35.
GRA—Lewis 18 pass from White (Fraga kick), 3:00.
GRA—Kade Clayton 7 run (Fraga kick), 7:10.
FWC—Reese Herring 13 pass from Caleb Davis (Castaneda kick), 0:23.
FWC—Hamilton 3 run (Castaneda kick).
GRA—Clayton 5 run (run fail).
First Downs 17 24
Rushes-Yards 36-223 54-330
Passing Yards 149 22
Comp.-Att.-Int. 10-15-0 2-8-0
Punts-Avg. 0-0 1-46
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 2-0
Penalties-Yards 1-15 2-20
RUSHING—Grace, Blake White 16-126, Kade Clayton 19-97, Team 1-0. FW Christian, Bomani Carter 14-142, Chase Hamilton 17-80, Nate Albin 9-58, Jared Taylor 9-49, Caleb Davis 5-1.
PASSING—Grace, White 10-15-0—149. FW Christian, Davis 2-6-0—22, Hamilton 0-2-0—0.
RECEIVING—Grace, Statler Lewis 6-99, Lin Gillham 1-29, Jonny Spitzer 1-20, Clayton 1-3, Garrett Newman 1-(-2). FW Christian, Reese Herring 1-13, Taylor 1-9.