HERALD Photo/Tony Claxton â Garden City tailback Josh Colunga evades two Follett defenders in the Bearkatsâ 59-14 win over the Panthers Saturday in Seymour. Garden City punched its ticket to the Six-Man Division I state title game for the second season in a row.
SEYMOUR â Itâs hard to catch Garden City head coach Vance Jones without a smile on his face after the Bearkatsâ games.
It was no different after his team thwarted Follett 59-14 by halftime in the UIL Six-Man Division I semifinal in Seymour Saturday night.
Then again, it hasnât been different for the last 28 games.
âIâm still soaking it in,â Jones said, clinching his sixth trip to a state title game and ensuring the Bearkats a chance to win a second consecutive title next week. âThis is outstanding. Iâm still on Cloud 9.â
That same feeling surrounded the Bearkats as their 28th consecutive victory clinched a berth in the state championship game against Throckmorton at 7 p.m. Saturday at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene.
Far from what last yearâs playoff matchup was like between Garden City and Follett, the Bearkats were overbearing on the offensive side of the ball with Josh Colungaâs 10 carries for 170 yards and one touchdown and Blayne Batlaâs five touchdown passes.
An injured Cole Freeman, a fumble recovery by Garden Cityâs Frankie Zuniga at the 3:03 mark in the second quarter and an onside kick recovery by the Bearkats after a Reggie Halfmann touchdown with 2:05 left in the second was Follettâs undoing.
The final score may be a bit surprising to some though. Last year when these two teams met, it was a back-and-forth affair. This year, Follett couldnât keep up on offense and Garden City forced the Panthers to punt four times in the first and only half.
âI thought it was going to be a little closer than it was,â Colunga said. âWe didnât expect to 45 them at the half. But thatâs how we play. We just try to get it one play at a time, score every drive and our defense stepped up this week.â
Garden City was already up 44-14 when Zuniga recovered a fumble that dropped into his hands, leading to the Halfmann score. After the onside kick was successful, Batlaâs 33-yard touchdown pass to Brett Chudej and Colungaâs run on the point after try put the Bearkats up by 45, enacting the mercy rule if it got to halftime.
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