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HOUSTON - Second Baptist School has been knocking on the door for the past three years but could never get the key to unlock it to advance to the TAPPS State Championship.
On Saturday night, with a consistent on and off drizzle falling from the Houston skies into Rice Stadium, the Eagles not only found the key but kicked in the door.
A pair of late forced turnovers, capped by Colin Hedges' fumble recovery with a minute to go, sealed a 14-13 TAPPS Division II State Semifinal win over Fort Bend Christian Academy and the first state title game berth since 1999.
"I was beginning to wonder if our team was cursed or something," Hedges said with a laugh. "But after this, I know for sure we're going to win this year. I know it. I feel it. Our whole team believes it."
Fort Bend Christian Academy ends their historic season with a 9-4 overall record and deepest playoff run in program history after winning its first-ever District Championship a few weeks ago.
Second Baptist School (13-2) moves on to face Dallas Christian (11-1) - which beat Southwest Christian School 24-14 - in next week's TAPPS Division II State Championship game in Waco on Saturday at 7 p.m.
"It feels good, we've been close," Second Baptist School coach Terry Pirtle said. "My assistant AD told me before the game that this is the hardest game to win and he's right. We haven't played well in this game for three years; we didn't play our best tonight but we still won and that's the most important part."
VYPE 🎥 presented by @Academy @SBS_Athletics leans on early offense and late defense to clinch first State Title game berth since 1999 with 14-13 win. #txhsfb (@mawalker_SBAD @KPRC2RandyMc @eli_smiith @skillerneverett @GraysonKim1 @turnermurdock5 @KyleKollmorgen @austin17c) pic.twitter.com/4cYm1sFtZa— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) November 28, 2021
After trading scores in the first quarter - a three-yard touchdown run by Second Baptist School's Eli Smith and a 14-yard pass from Brady Dever to Marcus Chretian - it was a jet sweep to JD Crisp with 4:03 left in the first half to give SBS the 14-7 halftime lead.
Following a scoreless third quarter, Dever hit Bryan Domino for an 18-yard score with 9:20 left in the game. They would miss the extra point, which would prove to be crucial, making it 14-13.
Back and forth the teams traded possessions and FBCA had some shots. One of those with just over four minutes to go ended when Karsten Chambers rose up in the end zone and picked off Dever's pass.
"They ran that same play earlier for a touchdown to almost tie it and I just read it, had him man-to-man and just went up and made a play," Chambers said.
INTERCEPTION @SBS_Athletics!!! A huge turnover for SBS as @chamberskarsten adjusts and picks this one off. Back to SBS with just over 4 minutes left and a 1 point lead! #txhsfb @mawalker_SBAD @KPRC2RandyMc @eli_smiith @skillerneverett @turnermurdock5 @CoachPirtle pic.twitter.com/ysoildQCjm— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) November 28, 2021
Second Baptist School couldn't turn the turnover into points or a game-ended drive and had to punt it back to FBCA with 1:31 remaining.
Starting from their own 24, FBCA started driving and with just over a minute left, Dever rolled out of the pocket, was hit, fumbled and Hedges jumped on it to seal the victory.
"I immediately went for it," Hedges recalled about the play. "I knew this was going to be the defining moment. So, I did all I could do and I got it. I was worried someone was going to come up and hit me, so I just curled up into a ball and it was my ball."
After the final ticks had run off the clock and the celebration subsided for a moment, Pirtle stood in front of the Second Baptist School faithful and spoke. One of the statements included "defense wins championships".
On Saturday, it was that defense that propelled SBS to its first state title bout in 22 years, against the same program they won it all against in 1999.
"They did a tremendous job of shutting down their offense," Pirtle said of the defense. "I'm very excited about how they played tonight."