FORNEY — Kevrin Justice rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown and the Kilgore defense shut down previously unbeaten Gainesville in the second half as the Bulldogs came away with a 30-14 Class 3A Division I Region II victory on Friday night at City Bank Stadium.
The Kilgore defense, anchored by A.J. Davis, LaDarrin Anthony and Josh Daniels limited the Leopards to just 90 yards in the second half and came away with three picks, one each by Benny Colbert, Hector Peralez and Q. Brewster as the 11th-ranked Bulldogs improved to 11-1 and set the stage for a Division I semifinal showdown against Stephenville, a 45-28 winner over Abilene Wylie. The game is tentatively set for Friday in Mansfield.
Gainesville ends its season with a 12-1 record.
With the win, Kilgore’s third in a row since its only loss of the season to Gilmer on the final week of the regular season, the Bulldogs reach the state semifinals for only the second time in modern history. Kilgore won the Class 4A championship in 2004.
Justice, only a sophomore, enjoyed his best rushing night of the season at the Leopards’ expense. JuJu Brown followed with 72 yards on 11 carries. Kilgore rushed for 297 yards on 44 carries and finished the contest with 408 as quarterback Cooper Coldiron completed 7 of 14 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.
Gainesville, which had eliminated Princeton last week to reach this round, was held to 249 yards. Denzel Johnson was 8 of 19 passing for 178 yards. Johnson’s favorite receiver was David Moore, who had six catches for 115 yards and both touchdowns, covering 58 and 28 yards.
Johnson was pressured all night and continually had to scramble for his 43 yards. Late in the game, the telling blow were back-to-back sacks by Daniels.
Gainesville won the pre-game coin flip and deferred to the second half.
Kilgore made the most of its first possession, driving 59 yards in 48 seconds to a 7-0 lead coming on a 50-yard scoring strike from Coldiron to Brewster.
The pass and run was Coldiron’s 12th pass for a touchdown this season and came on the Bulldogs’ second offensive play of the contest.
The Leopards answered, though, on their first possession, driving 74 yards to the tying touchdown on a 58-yard Johnson completion to Moore. The catch for a score was Moore’s ninth of the season and came with 9:19 remaining in the first quarter.
Kilgore’s go-ahead touchdown followed on a typical Bulldog possession in which the Ragin’ Red drove 87 yards in 14 plays and Cornelius Bell scored on a 1-yard run with 11:17 left in the second period.
The Bulldogs would add a 23-yard scoring run by Justice with 10:32 left in the half and a 34-yard Hector Peralez field goal as time expired to end the half.
Kilgore was 4 of 10 on third-down conversions and 1-for-1 on fourth-down attempts, while Gainesville was 2 of 8 on third down conversions and 1 of 3 on fourth-down attempts. The Leopards’ second touchdown came on a fourth-down conversion.
Brewster led the Kilgore receiving corps with three catches for 56 yards.
Class 3A Division I Regional
Kilgore 30, Gainesville 14
City Bank Stadium, Forney
Gainesville 7700 — 14
Kilgore 71706 — 30
KIL: Cooper Coldiron 50 pass to Q. Brewster. Hector Peralez kick. 11:12
GAI: Denzel Johnson 58 pass to David Moore. Hector Sagrero kick. 9:19 Second Quarter
KIL: Cornelius Bell 1 run. Peralez kick. 11:17 Kilgore 14, Gainesville 7
KIL: Kevrin Justice 23 run. Peralez kick. 10:32. Kil 21, Gainesville 7
GAI: Johnson 28 pass to Moore. Sagrero kick. 5:40. Kil. 21, Gainesville 14
KIL: Hector Peralez 34 field goal. 0:00. Kilgore 24, Gainesville 14 Fourth Quarter
KIL: Bell 1 run. Kick failed. 7:00. Kilgore 30, Gainesville 14
First Downs 719
Rushing yards 29-7144-297
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-1