Kennedale was its own worst enemy Friday night in a 21-13 loss to Abilene Wylie in a Class 4A Division I state semifinal at Birdville ISD Fine Arts/Athletic Complex.
The Wildcats (11-4) turned the ball over four times, had 12 penalties for 82 yards, failed on two fake punt attempts and had a botched snap on a punt that turned into the Bulldogs’ final touchdown. Kennedale outgained Wylie in total yards 251-165.
“Penalties and turning the ball over, you can’t do it at any time, especially in the fifth round against a team like Wylie,” Kennedale coach Richard Barrett said.
The Wildcats took the lead on their first possession. After forcing Wylie (13-1) three-and-out to open the game, Kennedale marched 44 yards, capped by quarterback Evan Jowers’ 23-yard keeper. The PAT was missed to make it 6-0.
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Later in the first quarter, Kennedale a faked a punt that came up short, giving Wylie possession at its own 40-yard line. Eight plays later, the Bulldogs took the lead on a 1-yard Nick Ortiz run. The PAT put Wylie ahead 7-6.
Kennedale answered immediately.
D.J. Kirven blasted up the middle and raced 48 yards to put the Wildcats back on top, 13-7.
Late in the first half, Kennedale again failed to convert a fake punt, giving Wylie the football at the Wildcats’ 28. Zach Smith scrambled 19 yards into the end zone and Wylie was ahead for good at 14-13.
The Bulldogs stretched the lead on their first possession of the second half. They needed to go just 32 yards in three plays after a low punt snap gave them a short field. Smith again did the damage on a 21-yard run.
“My heart goes out to our seniors right now,” Barrett said. “They’ve invested so much and to have it end this way is disheartening.”
Kirven, a sophomore, led Kennedale with 122 yards rushing and a TD on 23 carries. Junior fullback Jaden Knowles added 113 yards on 26 rushes.
Abilene Wylie meets Carthage or China Spring in the 4A Division I championship, Friday at 4 p.m. at AT&T Stadium.
The loss ends Kennedale’s deepest playoff run in school history. The Wildcats have had 22 playoff appearances since 1984.