By Dave Wagner
CMI sports writer
CANYON, Texas — The Farwell Steers thought if they could contain Wellington’s big plays, they could give the unbeaten Skyrockets a run for their money in a Texas Class 1A Division II regional game on Friday at West Texas A&M’s Kimbrough Stadium.
Two-thirds of the time, they were successful — 26 plays for 54 yards. Unfortunately, the other 13 plays produced 405 yards and the experienced Rockets rolled to a 50-14 victory.
Senior running back Terry Gilbreath was simply too much to handle, scoring five touchdowns for the Rockets (11-0), who were eliminated in the state semifinals by Munday each of the last two years.
Gilbreath rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries, including an 82-yarder. In the final three minutes of the half, when he turned a screen pass from senior quarterback Klark Ashmore into a 54-yard score and returned a punt 88 yards for another TD, making it 28-0 and breaking the game open.
For their part, the Steers (7-5) had 255 total yards and a 21-13 edge in first downs, with junior quarterback J.J. Herrera completing 25-of-38 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Curt Langford finished with eight catches for 78 yards and junior wide-out Chase Mitchell caught six for 63.
“We gave up big plays and gave up momentum,” second-year Steers coach Taylor Read said. “We got the wind in our face in the first quarter and that really made it tough, field position-wise.”
Senior Lazaro Velasquez and sophomore Gerardo Martinez teamed up for a 9-yard sack of Ashmore on Wellington’s first play from scrimmage, and the Steers forced a three-and-out. But Kelton Long’s punt with the wind went 47 yards and out-of-bounds at the 5.
Farwell got one first down, but a 3-yard punt gave the Rockets the ball at the 25. On fourth-and-9, Ashmore found senior wide receiver Trey Long for a 24-yard touchdown near the right pylon.
Gilbreath then scored his first touchdown on a 14-yard run around right end with 6:05 left in the half, and Wellington’s second two-point conversion made it 16-0. After scoring on the punt return and the screen pass, Gilbreath opened the third quarter with a 55-yard blast up the middle for a touchdown on Wellington’s third play.
Down 42-0 late in the third quarter, Farwell went 67 yards in seven plays with Herrera finding Langford in stride on a 37-yard TD pass. Herrera added a 13-yard scoring toss to junior Pedro Ruiz with just under 1 1/2 minutes left.
“We were worried that their big offensive line might wear us down,” Wellington coach Wade Williams said. “They had a good game plan, but we’ve got some older kids and they’ve been there before.”
Williams said the Rockets are used to teams trying to play ball-control to slow them down.
“We expect that,” he said. “When they get behind a little bit, sometimes they get a little desperate.”
While the Rockets are senior-laden, the Steers lose only a handful of players to graduation.
“The kids will (eventually) look back and smile about this year,” Read said. “They did a lot of things people said they couldn’t do. We’re very young, but we understand we’ve got to work hard to get better.”
Wellington will face either Seagraves or Booker, who play today, in next week’s quarterfinal round.