Something had to give on Thursday at AT&T Stadium.
Two 15-0 juggernauts in Mason and New Deal faced off for the Class 2A Division I football state title, but the Punchers left little doubt why they are ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press 2A state poll with a 44-6 victory over the fifth-ranked Lions.
It was Mason’s second state title in three championship-game appearances. The Punchers won the 2011 Class 1A Division I title before finishing as the runner up in 2A DI in 2014.
Mason (16-0) was in control from the start taking the opening kick at its own 43 yard line and scoring 6 plays later. A 35-yard pass from quarterback Otto Wofford to Zach Norman set up a 1-yard touchdown run from Wofford and a 7-0 lead with 9:30 left in the first quarter.
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New Deal (15-1) answered after a Mason miscue. A bad punt snap forced a 16-yard loss for the Punchers and New Deal took over at the Mason 11. Three plays later, Lion’s quarterback Jett Whitfield hit Kendell Dunn over the middle for a 15-yard score to cut the lead to 7-6 with 3:43 left in the opening frame.
Mason dominated on both sides of the ball after that. The Punchers scored their next 6 possessions while the defense clamped down.
The game’s offensive MVP, Jake Cockerham, capped a 15-play, 84-yard drive that took nearly 9 minutes off the clock in the second quarter. His 2-yard scoring run increased Mason’s lead to 21-6 with 3:05 left in the first half.
“We pride ourselves in physicality and so when we have those long, pound-it-out drives, we just shove it down their throat and they can’t stop it,” said Cockerham, who finished with 105 rushing yards on 11 carries and one catch for 10 yards. “It’s just a lot of fun for us because we make them quit. That’s our goal, to make every team we play quit and it started to show later on when they were physically out-matched and real tired.”
Cockerham dazzled the 7,952 in attendance with a 55-yard scoring run on the first possession of the second half to give Mason a 31-6 lead.
New Deal did not pick up a first down in the third quarter and had only 2 in the second half, the first coming with 9 minutes left in the game.
“Our defensive staff did a great job executing the game plan and the guys played tremendously,” said Mason head coach Kade Burns, whose team allowed 172 total yards with 81 coming on the ground on 25 carries.
“All the credit goes to the weight room and these seniors for always pushing us all throughout the off-season,” said Defensive MVP Slone Stultz who had 8 total tackles, 3.5 for losses and 1.5 sacks. “We wanted to do this for them one last time and get the win.”
Mason piled up 435 total yards of offense. Wofford was an efficient 13 of 16 passing for 159 yards and the senior had 71 rushing yards on 9 carries. Running back Klay Klaerner added 103 yards on the ground with TD runs of 11 and 10 yards.
Roman Coe and Tylson Keller had interceptions for Mason.