HOUSTON — Chris Baldazo hit two big kicks late, Dalton McElyea threw two touchdowns and Dalton Smith had two interceptions as Kilgore upended El Campo, 27-14, at Sheldon ISD Stadium on Friday night, in the second round of the UIL Class 4A, Division I playoffs.
Kilgore (9-3) will face Huffman Hargrave (11-1) in a third-round game next weekend, in a setting and date yet to be determined.
The Bulldogs had to hold off the Ricebirds late.
Kilgore scored early, a 13-yard pass from McElyea to Donovan Adkins, got a touchdown run by Tray Epps, and led 21-7 at halftime. Kilgore’s defense held El Campo’s vaunted running game in check, but did give up a 93-yard touchdown run to Rueben Owens.
After that, late in the half, McElyea hit Cade Pippen on a 14-yard score, virtually breaking any momentum the Ricebirds garnered from Owens’ long scoring run.
El Campo got back into the game with a 50-yard scoring drive in the third quarter, but it almost worked against them: it ate up clock.
Kilgore fumbled the ball right back to them, and the Bulldogs, up just 21-14, had to tighten up. They did. Smith picked off the ball on the drive, and ended the threat.
The Bulldogs put together a nice drive that extended into the fourth quarter, but stalled at the El Campo 24. Baldazo hit a 40-yard field goal out of Pippen’s hold and gave Kilgore a 10-point lead with just over 6 ½ minutes to play.
The Ricebirds squashed their own hopes, though, with turnovers and penalties. A fumble on the first play of the next series gave the ball right back to Kilgore – Baldazo hit them again with a 30-yard field goal to give Kilgore a 27-14 lead.
El Campo, driving and threatening to get back into the game, was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct, and then quarterback Cullen Braden made a poor decision. Smith picked it off, for the second time in the game, and virtually ended the contest.