• Breckenridge kicker Jose Escobedo splits the uprights on a game-winning kick to give Breckenridge its first district title since 1999.

Buckaroos knock off Brock for district championship (full story)

First title in 12 years

The Breckenridge High School Buckaroos pulled off arguably the most surprising regular season upset in school history after knocking off 2016 state runner-up Brock, thanks to a field goal by senior kicker Jose Escobedo in the final seconds of regulation.

The Buckaroos won their first district title in 12 years after Escobedo split the uprights with 6 seconds left in regulation, then junior corner back Kevin Franco sealed the victory with an interception during the Brock Eagles’ final offensive possession.

“I was a little nervous. When [Brock] called a timeout, the only thing that went through my head was this is just a regular kick and do it for the team,” Escobedo said. “This is senior night, my last year, I have to make it memorable. I was a little scared. The wind was blowing toward me. I wanted to put it on the right (hash). I thought the wind was going to help me. My farthest kick was 40 yards.”

Brock came into the game ranked sixth in 3A and favored by Dave Campbell’s Football Magazine 2017 to repeat as state champion. After jumping out to a 9-0 lead on a touchdown and a safety on the Bucks’ second offensive possession, the Eagles seemed on their way to a fourth consecutive district title, but the Buckaroos scored 21 unanswered points beginning with an 85-yard kick return by junior receiver Angel Ruiz.

“I had good blockers and as soon as I saw the hole I hit it,” Ruiz said. “It’s was all a team effort. My kick return sparked us, but if it wasn’t for my blockers I would not have done it.”

A 3-and-out by the Eagles on the ensuing drive  set up a 56-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Owen Woodward. A fumble recovery by sophomore middle linebacker Jake Escalon gave the Bucks the ball back on their own 6-yard line, but the Buckaroos quickly changed their fortunes with a 31-yard run by senior running back Zach Willis. Four plays later, Willis reached the end zone on a 42-yard run that capped off a 94-yard drive.

“I have to give all of the credit to my line,” Willis said. “Without them, I’d be nothing. They were moving them. They were working harder than those big boys, moving them and making holes.”

A pair of Brock TDs before halftime gave the Eagles a 22-21 lead, but it was evident they were in for their first true challenge of district play after previously outscoring their 3A District 4 foes by 168-23. The Eagles and Bucks found themselves in a defensive stalemate until the fourth quarter, when Willis picked up his second touchdown of the night one play after a bad Brock snap on fourth-and-7 gave Breckenridge the ball back on Brock’s 24-yard line. With just under 10 minutes left in regulation, the Eagles regained the lead once again after a 10-yard TD run by junior running back Toby Morrison. The Bucks’ offense stalled on the next drive, giving Brock the ball. The Eagles passed midfield and a score would seal the game, but a sack on fourth-and-8 by senior outside linebacker Warren Hardy gave the Buckaroos the ball back on their own 18-yard line with just 2:50 left in the game.

“It opened up and I saw it. I did my job, I had been working on it all week and executed,” Hardy said. “... No one is invincible. We just had to come out and work harder than them and that is what we did tonight. We just played physical ball and shut them down a little bit.”

The game seemed all but lost after a Bucks’ incomplete pass set up fourth-and-8, but a defensive hold call breathed new life into the Buckaroos. Woodward then hit Escalon and Franco on passes to put them on Brock’s 18-yard line, which set up Escobedo’s kick.

“We just had to get physical and never give up. It feels great and definitely something I’ll remember down the line,” senior defensive end Terrance Roberson said. “If you don’t stop them, then they will keep running it. If you don’t hit them, then they are definitely going to hit you. They are a really hard, physical running team.”

With the win the Buckaroos end the regular season at 5-5 with all five wins coming in district play. The Texas High School Coaches Association recently slotted Breckenridge sixth in its recent 3A Region 1 poll following the upset. The Bucks will next face the Merkel Badgers at a neutral field at Brownwood High School. The Badgers come into the game also sporting a 5-5 record, but finished third in the 3A District 3 standings following last Friday’s 14-7 loss to Jim Ned. On offense, the Badgers typically run with two or three backs in a shotgun formation focusing on misdirection plays. With senior quarterback Cole Wilkerson struggling at times, completing just over 50 percent of his passes for 958 yards, nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions, the Badgers tend to focus on their running game. Expect multiple players back to carry the ball, but senior 5-10, 210-pound running back Brady Bilbrey will receive the most touches and currently has 738 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. The Buckaroos will also have to contend with speedster receiver and wildcat quarterback Jonah White, who clocked a 4.4 40-yard dash before the season and scorched opposing defensive backs for 566 yards on 32 receptions for six touchdowns. On defense, the Badgers typically run from a 3-4 system similar to what they faced last Friday against Brock.

Breckenridge coach Casey Hubble said a district win is great for the community, but his team has much higher aspirations and after seeing what they did to last Friday a state championship run is not out of the question.

“As a community, district championships used to be the thing ... A district championship is nice,” Hubble said. “I knew [Escobedo] had no doubt. He stepped in and put it through like a clutch player. Players make plays and if you’re going to win big games like this players have to make plays. We had many guys make plays.”

Kickoff for Friday is set for 7:30 p.m.

 

Breck 14    7   0  9  -  30 

BHS     9  13   0  6  28

 

First Quarter

5:49: Brock safety, Woodward -2. 3:05: Kayden Hendrix 60-yard run, extra point by Noah Nye good. 3:01: Ruiz 84-yard kick return, Escobedo XP good. 1:12: Woodward 56-yard run, XP good.

 

Second Quarter

8:58: Willis 57-yard run, XP good. 6:01 Tanner Patino 30-yard run, XP. 8:58 Willis 42-yard run, XP good. 0:46: Tommy Merrill 10-yard run, XP good.

 

Fourth Quarter 

11:34: Willis 24-yard run, XP no good. 9:46: Hendrix 6-yard run, XP no good. 0:06: Escobedo 35-yard kick.

 

Individual Stats

PASSING — Woodward, 8 of 18, 170 yards.

 

RUSHING — Willis 20-186, two TD, Woodward 10-68, 1 TD. Roberson 3-7. Ruiz 1-50. Kyler Knight 1-10. 

 

RECEIVING — Escalon 2-23, Knight 2-22, Franco 1-13. Aaryn Medina 1-18.

The Breckenridge American

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