WACO — Possessions were in short supply here Friday. The Paul Pewitt Brahmas made the most of their few times with the football, and the Bulls are headed to the state title game for the first time since 2005.
La-Jathan Allen continued to make big plays defensively for Omaha Paul Pewitt, and the Brahmas rallied for a 24-18 win over East Bernard in a Class 3A Division II state football semifinal at Waco ISD Stadium.
Paul Pewitt (14-1) will meet Gunter (14-1) at 7 p.m. on Thursday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington for the championship. East Bernard ends its season with a 14-1 record.
Allen, who a week ago against district rival Daingerfield had a pick six and swatted away a potential game-winning touchdown pass as time expired, came away with three turnovers on Friday against East Bernard.
The first and last proved to be fatal to East Bernard.
Paul Pewitt pinned EB down at its own 1-yard line with a punt after stalling out on its first possession of the game, and on the second play from scrimmage for East Bernard Allen tipped a pass, hauled it in and raced eight yards for his second pick six in as many weeks to give the Brahmas an 8-0 lead after Cross Holder hit Kadrien Johnson for two points.
Allen intercepted another pass late in the first half that didn’t lead to points, but late in the game he saved a touchdown and likely his team’s season with a fumble recovery.
East Bernard tied the game at 8-8 with 5:03 left in the first quarter on a 24-yard run by Devin Chapman and a two-point conversion of their own.
A 23-yard field goal by Ryan Morse put EB on top 11-8 with 8:28 left in the first half, and East Bernard later took an 18-8 lead with a halfback pass from Carson Little to Reagan Whitley that covered 27 yards with 6:20 left in the half.
Paul Pewitt kept it close at the break, driving 75 yards in 12 plays and capping things with a 24-yard TD run by Johnson. Holder kept for two, and Pewitt trailed 18-16 at the break.
In a fast-moving third quarter, both teams had possession of the ball once.
East Bernard took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove to the Paul Pewitt 40 before punting. The didn’t see the ball again the rest of the quarter as Pewitt drove 78 yards in 18 plays — all on the ground — and milked 8:01 off the clock to take the lead for good.
Johnson did the scoring honors on a 3-yard run 26 seconds into the final period, and Holder picked up a block by Keiuntray Hawkins to tack on the two-pointer for a 24-18 Pewitt lead.
East Bernard took over at its own 29 and moved crisply down the field to the Paul Pewitt 4-yard line. An illegal motion penalty moved the ball back to the 9, and three plays later Kameron Matthews appeared to be heading into the end zone before being stopped short. He landed on top of Allen and the ball popped loose into the waiting arms of Allen.
East Bernard held and forced a punt, using a good return and a 15-yard penalty on Pewitt to set up shop at the 15-yard line with 3:31 left, but a fourth-down pass fell incomplete with 1:31 remaining and Pewitt was able to run out the clock.
Paul Pewitt ran 58 plays on the night, 55 on the ground, and finished with 235 rushing yards. Allen led the way with 84 yards. Johnson picked up 67 on 11 carries and Holder 55 on 14 attempts.
East Bernard finished with 247 rushing yards on 42 carries, with Chapman carrying 10 times for 92 yards.