HILLSBORO — After falling behind 21-7, things didn’t appear headed Godley’s way, but the Wildcats persevered and closed the game on a 25-0 run for a 32-21 win Friday over Hillsboro to secure the No. 2 seed out of District 4-4A Division II.
Godley concluded the regular season at 8-2, and the Wildcats will face Aubrey (4-6) in the Class 4A Division I Region I bi-district playoffs. Hillsboro finished the regular season with a 4-6 record as the Eagles will play Graham (6-4) in the playoffs.
Godley scored a pair of late touchdowns in the second quarter to pull to within one point, and the Wildcats entered the fourth quarter facing a one-point deficit before scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
“I was really proud of our kids,” Godley coach Curtis Lowery said. “All year long, our kids don’t have any quit in them. They just kept plugging along and believing in each other. Never on the sidelines did they feel like they were going to lose. They battle every play. It takes a lot of heart to stay positive, come back and pull out a win like that.”
The Eagles opened the scoring on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Thomas Pratt to Tyson Simmons, then Godley answered on a five-yard touchdown pass from Ethan McBrayer to Brenen Hawkins.
But the Eagles made it 21-7 midway through the second quarter on a 10-yard Pratt run and an eight-yard Brandon Montoya run.
Instead of letting the game get out of reach, the Wildcats buckled down and pulled together. Godley got back in it with two late scores in the second quarter — a 45-yard touchdown pass from McBrayer to Caden Midkiff with 3:28 left, then a 16-yard McBrayer run with 1:00 left until halftime to pull to within 21-20 after a missed extra point.
Facing a 21-20 halftime deficit, the Wildcat defense shut down the Eagles the rest of the way. Following a scoreless third quarter, including a crucial fumble recovery by Godley’s Joe Gutierrez, the Wildcats scored on the first play of the fourth as Kolby Bartlett punched it in from two yards out for a 26-21 lead after the failed two-point conversion.
“Our coaches made good adjustments [defensively] at halftime,” Lowery said. “They changed some things up in areas [Hillsboro] was hurting us. Our coaching staff did a great job and our kids went out and executed the adjustments.”
Then Hawkins helped seal the win with a breakaway 51-yard reception that set up a two-yard touchdown run by McBrayer for a 32-21 lead with 4:11 left.
Godley punter Isaac Paniauga played a crucial role as he averaged 43 yards on five punts as he consistently flipped field position for the Wildcats.
Godley closed the game on a 25-0 run.
McBrayer went 12-for-22 for 194 yards and four total touchdowns while Bartlett rushed for 104 yards, helping eat up the clock in the second half. Hawkins finished with four receptions for 74 yards.
Montoya led Hillsboro with 192 rushing yards on 32 carries.
At 8-2 and winning two big games in a row, Lowery said he likes the confidence level his Wildcats are carrying into the playoffs.
“It’s big. It’s one of those deals where you want to be playing your best football at the right time and you want to be playing with confidence,” Lowery said. “That win [over Hillsboro] was big. Although we didn’t play perfect, coming back and winning against good football team like Hillsboro was huge. Our kids are playing with a lot of confidence. I think it’s important to finish strong like that going into a new season.”
Godley and Aubrey are set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday from Brewer’s Bear Stadium in a bi-district playoff game.
Mark Nobles contributed to this report.