Just when it looked as if the Everman Bulldogs’ playoff hopes were slipping away, they had their biggest scoring outburst of the season Friday night with the final 19 points of the game to upset Burleson, 40-35, at Burleson ISD Stadium.
With the win, Everman (2-5 overall) improves to 2-3 in District 5-5A Division II. Burleson, which lost for the third straight game, fell to 3-3 in league play (5-3 overall). While Aledo (5-0) and Burleson Centennial sit comfortably in the 1-2 spots in district, five other teams are chasing the two remaining postseason berths, including Cleburne (3-2), Midlothian (3-2), and Waco University (2-3).
Burleson led 35-21 after Jarrett Austin scored just 15 seconds into the final quarter on a 21-yard run. It was his second score of the night, adding to a 28-yard run in the first quarter for a 7-0 Elks lead. He finished the game with a yeoman performance, rushing 23 times for a game-high 173 yards.
Then, Everman’s Jyden Hollie took over on offense while the Everman defense did its part. Hollie had touchdown runs of 40 and 55 yards in the final quarter, sandwiched around a 16-yard interception return by Deandre Toliver for a touchdown.
Hollie’s first score cut the deficit to 35-28 with 9:05 to play. Toliver’s touchdown looked to tie the game, but the extra point was blocked, leaving Burleson ahead 35-34 with 8:08 remaining.
Following a Burleson punt and personal foul against the Elks, Everman got the ball at its own 45. On the first play, Hollie took off down the sideline for the game-winning TD, giving the Bulldogs their only lead of the game.
On its final possession, the Elks faced a fourth-and-13 with no timeouts and just over three minutes remaining. They completed a pass for 12 yards to turn the ball over.
Earlier in the game, Everman got another interception return for a touchdown, this one 98 yards by James Brooks, with 15 seconds left in the first half to tie the score at 21.
Everman backup quarterback Antonio Little completed three passes, but two went for touchdowns of 67 and 56 yards to Caleb Lester and Keonte Lusk.
The Everman defense also got a boost from tackle Willie Tutt, who had four tackles for loss and a sack.
Everman had scored just 50 points in its first six games.
Game was over when: The Everman defense held Burleson a yard shy of a first down on a fourth-and-13 with just over three minutes to play in the game and the Elks had no timeouts remaining.
Play of the game: James Brooks of Everman returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown with 15 seconds left in the first half to tie the game at 21.
Offensive player of the game: Jyden Hollie of Everman rushed 10 times for 125 yards, including back-to-back runs of 40 and 55 yards for fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Defensive player of the game: Deandre Toliver’s 16-yard interception return for a touchdown with 8:08 to play, though it did not tie the game because of a blocked PAT, squelched momentum for Burleson, which punted the ball on its next possession to set up Hollie’s game-winning run.
Unsung hero of the game: Burleson running back Jarrett Austin finished with a game-high 173 yards rushing on 23 carries, including touchdowns of 28 and 21 yards.
What’s next: Everman hosts Cleburne, Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m. Burleson at Midlothian, Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m.