WYLIE — Quarterback Trey Collier rushed for 180 yards and three touchdowns — and threw for two more scores — to boost Kaufman (10-1) past Anna’s Coyotes, 48-31, in a Class 4A (I) Region II bi-district matchup at Wylie ISD Stadium on Friday, Nov. 17.
The Lions built a 41-10 early third-quarter lead then cruised to the finish as Anna (6-5), led by senior quarterback Keelan Crosby, struck for three late touchdowns. The not-100-percent Crosby, who didn’t enter the game until the second quarter, led Coyote rushers with 105 yards and two touchdowns and he also tossed a touchdown pass.
“Kaufman’s a really good team,” Anna head coach Jason Heath said. “They were picked to be in the regional finals at the beginning of the year. There’s a reason for that. They’re a very talented group. They’re going to be playing for a while. … We didn’t quit, and very easily could have,” Heath added. “I’m proud of those guys and how we played and fought.”
“Coach Heath had his boys ready,” Kaufman head coach Jeremy Burleson said. “We were fortunate enough to hang on at the end. That No. 2 [Crosby], he’s a stud athlete. When he had the ball in his hands, we didn’t like that.”
The Lions didn’t have far to go for their first two touchdowns. Jay Gasper returned Anna’s first-possession punt 51 yards to the Coyotes’ 1-yard-line and from there Collier dove in for a 6-0 Kaufman lead. After another Anna punt, the Lions moved deep into Coyote territory but were thwarted by Noah Palshaw’s interception at the Anna 3. But the Coyotes gave the ball back when a back in motion contacted a snap from center and Kaufman smothered the ball near Anna’s goal line. Two plays later, Jay Gasper found the end zone from one yard out and the Lions led, 14-0, with only 38 yards of offense expended.
The opening minutes of the second quarter proved critical as well. With Kaufman finally getting the ball somewhere other than inside Anna’s 5, the Coyotes forced a punt near midfield. Linebacker Josiah Ivery and defensive end Bubba Jones burst through to block the punt and Ivery gathered in the loose ball and took it 30 yards for a touchdown.
Down, 14-7, Anna’s fired-up defense then forced the Lions into a 3rd-and-20 situation from their 23. But on the play, Collier — after bobbling the ball on the ground — got around the left side and streaked 77 yards for a momentum-snatching touchdown.
“Anna had us dead to rights and, all of a sudden, (Collier) busted out and makes a play,” Burleson said. “A lot of times, he makes a lot out of nothing. That’s what he did tonight.”
The Coyotes responded by moving 68 yards to Kaufman’s 1-yard-line where the drive stalled after a two-yard loss on 3rd-and-goal. Gustavo Martinez came on to boot a 20-yard field goal and Lions’ advantage was 20-10.
Kaufman came right back with an 89-yard scoring march capped by Gasper’s second touchdown run, a 23-yarder two minutes before halftime. Another bad break for Anna followed as Palshaw’s ensuing 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was erased by a holding penalty.
After a Coyotes punt, Collier’s 22-yard scoring pass to Casey Smith extended the Lions’ lead to 34-10, six seconds before the break.
Collier opened the second half with a 28-yard touchdown strike to Cecil Gasper, then Crosby got loose for touchdown runs of 21 and eight yards. (The former was Anna’s first offensive touchdown since Oct. 27, after suffering two shutout losses to end the season.) Crosby’s second touchdown was set up by a Jones fumble recovery at the Lions’ 38.
Emmonte Davis’ touchdown catch for Anna on fourth-and-10 from the Kaufman 35 ended the night’s scoring.
Heath noted that the Coyotes were without four starters in the contest, and that Crosby’s and senior running back Aaron Lee’s playing time had been limited due to nagging minor injuries.
As for this group of Anna seniors, Heath said he’ll remember most that they stuck it out — most of them since seventh grade.
“It’s not easy anymore to get kids out there in August, and sweat and work and put in the time and effort,” Heath said. “I’m proud of them for persevering. The thing I told them is that I’m proud of them for the season they had, but the thing that will make our program proudest is for them to go be good fathers and husbands and be productive for society.”