No. 9 Abernathy fends off upset attempt by Ballinger

Paul Harris
San Angelo Standard-Times
Abernathy’s Jess Hoel (5) looks to pass the ball against Roosevelt on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Eagle Field in Lubbock, Texas.

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 coach Chuck Lipsey talks to his players about enjoying the win but looking toward the playoffs after Friday's 21-13 win at Clyde. Sept 17 2021

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.