What had been a defensive struggle turned into offensive fireworks in the last 30 seconds of regulation, but the Cleburne Yellow Jacket Major Division All-Stars fell just short of grabbing a victory, losing to the Red Oak Thunder, 14-8, in overtime Saturday as part of the Holiday All-Star Classic.

There were only seven drives in the first half, as both teams tried to run the ball against their opponent, while occassionally mixing in a pass.

Red Oak started with the ball, and were driving well, until an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a run pushed them into a third-and-24 situation.

Two Brooks Teeter passes fell incomplete, and the Yellow Jackets took over at the Thunder 34.

Thanks to rushing by Austin Martinez and Chance Porter, the Yellow Jackets found themselves in the red zone. Unfortunately, passes by Quade Coward fell to the turf in the end zone for no points. A false start on the fourth down play effectively ended the hopes for red zone points for Cleburne.

After the two sides traded possessions, Cleburne’s Conner Martyniuk recovered a fumble at the Thunder 43 with just over two minutes left in the first half. The Yellow Jackets earned one first down, but were shut down once again when Tucker Nolen was tackled behind the line of scrimmage on fourth down.

Red Oak’s Claude Person connected with Daylan Dial for a 41-yard pass on the first play of the next drive, but the Yellow Jackets shut down the red zone attempt as the clock expired, and the teams went to the dressing room in a scoreless tie.

Cleburne was unable to produce much offense on the opening drive of the second half, giving the ball to the Thunder at their 43 with just under half of the quarter gone.

Teeter connected with Tanner Hunt for a 22-yard pass on the first play of the drive, and running by Casey Gonzalez got the Thunder into the Yellow Jacket red zone once again.

On the fourth down play from the 11, the Yellow Jackets stopped Gonzalez short as he fumbled the ball out of bounds to end the third quarter.

Cleburne proceeded to chew all but 25 seconds off of the clock on their next drive, traveling 91 yards in 17 plays to score. Cleburne was 3-of-3 converting third downs on the drive, which had been the downfall of most of their drives on the evening.

Martinez punched the ball into the end zone from five yards out, and rushed for the two-point conversion as well, giving the Yellow Jackets an 8-0 lead.

The Thunder started their drive with 16 seconds left at their own 28. A Person pass fell incomplete, before he connected with Hunt for a 72-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline as time ran out.

Dylan Morales squeezed through the line into the end zone for the two-point conversion, forcing the game into overtime.

Unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets, the rushing attack that had given them the lead was snuffed out, and a fourth down pass fell harmlessly to the turf.

The Thunder needed only three of the four downs given to them to score, as Morales ran in from six yards out to put the game away.

Martinez was the game’s leading rusher with 76 yards on 25 carries.

Josh Manck can be reached at 817-645-2441, ext. 2335, or sportsreporter@trcle.com

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