The Stamford Bulldogs are repeat champions of Class 1A, Division I. by defeating the Shiner Comanches 41-28 Thursday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. That is the simple statement of fact but the game was anything but simple. After going down 28-7 with 7:35 left in the third quarter, the Dogs came roaring back to score the final 34 points of the game in the final 19:35.
Bo Wimberly put the Bulldogs on top 34-28 with a 12 yard run with 1:55 left in the game. This was the first Stamford lead since the first Bulldog play of the game when Wimberly found a streaking James Washington for a 63 yard touchdown. Washington added the coup d'etat with a 77 yard interception return to push the Bulldog lead to 41-28 with just 43 seconds left in the game.
Wimberly had a part in five of the six Bulldog scores -- three rushing and two passing. The senior QB had all but one of the Stamford rushing attempts as he gained 115 yards on the ground. He also had five solo tackles and eight assisted tackles, including a tackle for loss. These efforts earned Wimberly both Offensive MVP and Defensive MVP honors. Prior to 2012 when Hagen Hutchinson won both awards, that feat had not been done before at a UIL Championship. Now the Bulldogs not only repeated as team champions but with double individual honors as well.
Washington also had an outstanding game on both offense and defense. The Oklahoma State commit had touchdown catches of 63 and 60 yards as part of a 144 yard total. He also provided key downfield blocks for Wimberly runs. On defense he was credited with three solo tackles and one assist to go along with a pass break up and the interception return.
Ty McLemore led the defense in tackles with six solo tackles and eight assists along with a pass break up. In all the Bulldog defense, which Texas Football referred to as "sneaky-talented" in its summer edition, recorded 74 tackles. The regular starters -- seniors Andrew Rodriquez, Craig Oliver, Joey Aguilar, Eric Sanchez, Gus West, McLemore, Washington and Wimberly with juniors Tanner Vance, Gabriel Carrion and Eli Jimenez -- were joined by Nathan Fernandez, Tyler Neatherlin, J.D. Davis, Justin Nava, Michael Gonzales, Ligon West, Shamaki Cooper, Wes Hutchinson and Jay Jenson in the defensive statistics category for the game. Once again the defense gave up yardage but made the key stops when needed and forced three Shiner turnovers, all within the final 3:35 of the game.
Shiner's ball control offense controlled the clock for 37:24 and the Comanches led or were tied for 43:39 of the game. The Bulldogs used their quick strike offense to hit big plays and negate the discrepancy on the clock. The Bulldogs led for just 4:21 in the game with 2:26 coming in the first quarter and then the all important final 1:55 of the game. The Dogs used the same formula to beat the Comanches as they had to defeat other ball control offenses from New Deal and Hico. The defense hung tough and made the stops when the stops had to be made. The offense then took their cue and found the end zone. Once the scoreboard showed a Bulldog lead, the defense sealed the deal for the victory.
The Comanches opened the game with a twelve play drive that moved from their own 24 to the Stamford 35. The first ten plays were on the ground with QB Jacob Stafford being joined by Marcus Coleman and Chad Neubauer getting the carries. A pass for Caleb Murrile on third down and six fell incomplete. The fourth down snap hit the ground and Coleman was stopped for a two yard loss.
On the Bulldogs first offensive snap Wimberly dropped back and found Washington behind two Shiner defenders. The pass dropped into awaiting hands and Washington streaked into the end zone. The extra point gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
Shiner came back and used a big play to tie the game. Coleman broke free of tackles on a counter play and raced 54 yards with Washington in hot pursuit. Hunter Mraz added the tying point.
The Bulldogs used the air to move with passes to Ligon and Gus West moving the football into Shiner territory. Wimberly was sacked for a loss on second down but a nine yard pass to Eric Sanchez picked up a first down at the Comanche 41. Wimberly used a nice block by Nathan Fernandez to break free for six yards but three incomplete passes ended the drive.
Shiner took over and pounded the ball again. This drive went 65 yards in eleven plays. The touchdown was a nine yard pass from Stafford to a wide open Murrile.
The Dogs took over and started marching. An eight yard pass to Washington and a 17 yard run by Wimberly put the ball at the Shiner 40. A pass to Ligon West was good for two yards and Hutchinson caught one for 22 yards to give Blue a first down at the 16. A pass for Washington was well defended and Wimberly gained just two yards on second down. On third down Wimberly tried to hit Hutchinson in the end zone but Tyler Patek was there to intercept for the Comanches.
The Comanche ground game went into gear. After a Neubauer run, Wimberly stayed on the ground and the heart of every Bulldog fan froze; Wimberly was helped off the field but his return was uncertain. Stafford made the big play for Shiner when he broke outside for a 33 yard gain before Ligon West made the tackle. Coleman then broke free and might have scored if McLemore and West weren't there to pull him back as the Comanche got to the one yard line. Stafford went over from there on the next play. With 2:11 left in the first half the Comanches led 21-7.
Stamford fans breathed a little easier when Wimberly came back for the next series. However, two incomplete passes and no yardage gained on a completion forced a punt. The kick died at the one yard line so Stafford just kept twice to run out the clock on the first half.
The Bulldogs were due to receive the second half kickoff but a hard line drive kick bounced off the chest of a Bulldog defender right back to the waiting arms of the Shiner kick team.
The Comanches took over at midfield and used eight plays to find the end zone. Dadrian Taylor took a reverse 22 yards for the score. When Mraz added the PAT for a 28-7, things looked bleak for the Bulldogs; the Shiner band definitely thought so as they played "good-bye" to the Dogs.
Now the heart and mental toughness of the battle-tested Bulldogs came to the fore. Passes to Hutchinson and Gus West gave the Dogs a first down at the Shiner 43. Hutchinson broke tackles with Washington blocking; net result was a 23 yard gain to the Shiner 20. Wimberly reversed his field and was finally pushed out of bounds at the one. On the play there were several good "no blocks" when veteran offensive linemen realized that a block might result in a penalty. The offensive line, with seniors Nathan Fernandez, Andrew Rodriquez, Tyler Neatherlin and Brandon Robertson and junior Tanner Vance, has provided great blocking at the point of attack and downfield to allow the Bulldog offense to click all year. Wimberly followed that line the final yard for a touchdown to cut the margin to 28-14.
Blue's defense forced a three and out by the Comanches when McLemore stuffed Neubauer for no gain on third down. Washington grabbed the punt over his shoulder to keep the ball from going deeper into Stamford territory. Even with that save the Bulldogs took over at the Stamford 15. The Shiner forced its own three and out and Wimberly punted to the Comanche 40 yard line.
Shiner tried the reverse to Taylor again but Wimberly and Fernandez were there for a yard loss. Three runs by Coleman moved the ball to the Stamford 47. After two runs by Neubauer the Comanches let the clock run out on the third quarter. The fourth quarter opened with Shiner facing a fourth and three from the Bulldog 41. Stafford tried a pass but the ball went right to McLemore instead of a Shiner receiver.
The Bulldogs took over at their own 41 and made quick work of the yardage needed for another score. Hutchinson picked up five on the ground and added another yard through the air. Then Wimberly wove his way through defenders, setting up blocks along the way; his speed cleared him the final yards in the 53 yard touchdown. Washington added the extra point kick to cut the Shiner lead to 28-21 with 10:39 left in the game.
Shiner's ground game continued to chew up yardage and clock time but the yards weren't coming in as big of chunks as before. Stafford converted two fourth and one plays to keep the drive alive. When the drive got into Stamford territory, the Bulldog defense raised their hackles. Neubauer was stopped for no gain by Wimberly on first down; Coleman gained three before being hit by Carrion and Fernandez. Wimberly and Rodriquez stopped Stafford for a three yard gain on third down and seven. Coleman got the call on fourth and four but he was stopped for only a two yard gain. Bulldog fans had a feeling of deja vue as the same scenario played out in the game against New Deal.
The Dogs wasted no time cashing in on the defensive stand. Washington took the long Wimberly pass and raced into the end zone on first down for a 60 yard touchdown. The PAT kick knotted the game at 28-28 with 3:51 to go in the game.
Stamford would get the ball right back when Oliver forced a fumble by Coleman. The ball sailed into the waiting arms of Gus West at the Shiner 43.
A seven yard pass to Ligon West and a 13 yard pass to Washington moved the sticks to a first down at the 23. Wimberly kept for seven yards and passed to West for four more. Wimberly kept on the next play and found the end zone from twelve yards out. The kick was blocked but the Bulldogs had a 34-28 lead with just 1:55 left in the game.
With less than two minutes and only one time out, the Comanches were forced to go to the air. The first play was a hook and lateral with Blake Michalec making the catch and pitching back to Patek. Wimberly almost picked off the next pass so Stafford kept the ball on the ground and used his 210 pound frame to push the pile for ten yards. Washington bounced the next pass attempt multiple times trying to secure it but the ball dropped for an incompletion. Stafford went Washington's way again on the next play and that was a mistake. The senior receiver picked off the ball at the 23 and started downfield; just when it looked like he would take a knee, the field opened up before him and he was off to the races. For a moment it looked like the 77 yard touchdown would be called back for an illegal block; but, after a conference, the flag was picked up and the touchdown stood. Again deja vue for Stamford fans -- a Washington touchdown with just under 45 seconds left. The PAT pushed the Bulldog lead to 13 points at 41-28.
John Louis Dyer kicked off to give Washington a breather and the Bulldog defense went into prevent mode. Passes to Michalec were good for 13 and 16 yards. With the ball sitting on the Stamford 39, Stafford went to the air again but Gus West was there to intercept for the Bulldogs.
Wimberly took a knee to run out the final seconds on the clock and the celebration began.
The Bulldogs are repeat champions of UIL football's Class 1A, Division I with a 14-1 season mark. The lone loss of the year came at the hands of the Cisco Loboes who later in the day won the Class 2A, Division II title with a 56-36 victory over Refugio.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Stamford 7 0 7 27 -- 41
Shiner 7 14 7 0 -- 28
STA - James Washington 63 pass from Bo Wimberly (Washington kick) 6:05
SHI - Marcus Coleman 53 run (Hunter Mraz kick) 3:39
SHI - Caleb Murille 9 pass from Jacob Stafford (H. Mraz kick) 8:37
SHI - Stafford 1 run (H. Mraz kick) 2:11
SHI - Dadrian Taylor 22 run (H. Mraz kick) 7:35
STA - Wimberly 1 run (Washington kick) 6:48
STA - Wimberly 53 run (Washington kick) 10:39
STA - Washington 60 pass from Wimberly (Washington kick) 3:42
STA - Wimberly 12 run (kick blocked) 1:55
STA - Washington 77 interception return (Washington kick) 0:43
First downs 13 25
Rushing yards 12-114 68-377
Passing yards 252 49
Total Offense 42-366 78-426
Comp-Att-Int 16-30-1 4-10-2
Punts 2-56.5 1-42
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 3-15 2-15
Possession Time 10:36 37:24
Rushing - Stamford: Bo Wimberly 10-115, 3 TDs; Wes Hutchinson 1-5. Shiner: Marcus Coleman 24-169, 1 TD; Jacob Stafford 25-129, 1 TD; Chad Neubauer 16-54; Dadrian Taylor 2-21, TD; Tyler Patek 1-4.
Passing - Stamford: Bo Wimberly 16-30-1, 252 yds, 2 TDs. Shiner: Jacob Stafford 4-10-2, 49 yds, TD.
Receiving - Stamford: James Washington 4-144, 2 TDs; Ligon West 5-20; Wes Hutchinson 4-54; Gus West 2-25; Eric Sanchez 1-9. Shiner: Blake Michalek 3-34; Caleb Murrile 1-9, TD; Tyler Patek 0-6.
Last Week's Games
Class 1A, Division I: Stamford 41, Shiner 28.