No. 9 Abernathy fends off upset attempt by Ballinger
Jess Hoel ran for four touchdowns and passed for two more to lead No. 9-ranked Abernathy to a 45-26 win over Ballinger on Thursday in their Class 3A Division II area-round playoff game in Andrews.
Ballinger trailed only 28-20 after the third quarter, but Abernathy put the game away from there, punctuated by Hoel's 62-yard TD run that extended the Antelopes' lead to 42-20 midway through the final quarter.
Abernathy improved to 10-1 and advances to the regional semifinals next week against Sonora or Canadian.
Ballinger's season ended with a record of 6-5. The Bearcats' season was highlighted by an overtime win over Llano in nondistrict play and a first-round playoff upset over District 1-3A champ Crane last week.
Ballinger hung with heavily favored Abernathy for much of Thursday's game.
The Bearcats were down 14-13 in the second quarter after a 1-yard TD run by Zach Canada. An interception by Nathan McDuffee late in the first half kept Abernathy out of the end zone and had Ballinger within 21-13 at halftime.
After falling behind 28-13, Ballinger responded with a drive that included a third-and-17 conversion on a pass from Carter Arrott to Martin Quiroga.
Arrott then punched in a 4-yard TD run to cut Abernathy's lead to 28-20 with 1:22 left in the third quarter.
Arrott found Blake Collom for a late TD pass to get Ballinger within 42-26, but an ensuing onside kick failed, and Abernathy tacked on a field goal with 2:32 remaining for the game's final points.
Abernathy is coached by Ballinger graduate Justin Wiley, who was the head coach of the Bearcats from 2012-14.