LUBBOCK - The stage was set. Sixteen teams clashed in the regional round of the Texas State playoffs. Only eight emerged as victors to advance to the state quarterfinals. Dumas, the No. 5 team, squared off with the No. 4 team, Decatur on Friday night, Nov. 29, at Plains Capital Field - Lowrey Field in Lubbock to move on to the next round.
The air was damp Friday and a fog hovered over the field like a wet blanket. Standing on the sidelines, it was difficult to see the opposing team's fans in the stands. Visibility was impaired some on the field, but the players made it work.
Decatur won the toss and deferred to the second half. They kicked the ball and Dumas received to begin their opening drive. Dumas moved the ball, but then stalled and was forced to punt.
Decatur made quick use of their possession, marched down the field and was on the board with a touchdown with 9:42 on the clock.
Dumas got things going as they moved the ball down the field and quarterback Spencer Williams rushed in for a score to put the Demons on the board with 6:04 left in the first quarter.
Both defenses stood their ground and kept each other out of the end zone until 37 seconds remained on the clock in the first quarter. Williams connected with Cito Rodriguez for a 9-yard score. This put Dumas up 14-7.
However, Decatur answered quickly when Gunner Ragsdale ran in for an 88-yard touchdown with 14 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
It was a back-and-forth battle through the second quarter, but Dumas got the edge and led 28-21 when Damian Orozco caught a pass for a 22-yard score with 14 seconds left in the half.
After the intermission, Decatur made quick use of their opening possession of the second half when they scored with 10:10 on the clock to tie the game at 28.
The Dumas offense could not punch it in before Decatur's quarterback Roman Fuller found Layton Harris for another Decatur touchdown with 4:10 in the third quarter.
Moments later, Dumas answered with another Williams touchdown and tied the game at 35 with 2:37 on the clock.
Javier Martinez intercepted the ball at a key moment as Decatur was driving late in the third quarter with 15 seconds on the clock. In his mind, he had to make up for an earlier play when a Decatur receiver slipped by for long catch and run.
"I had to redeem myself ... I had to stop everything they throw at me," Martinez said.
He read the pass, put his hands up, and the ball dropped in his hands for the turnover in the end zone to end Decatur's scoring drive.
With the interception, the Dumas sideline, the fans, and even the coaches in the booth erupted with jubilation.
As they have all year, the Dumas defense stepped up and finally shut out Decatur in the fourth quarter.
Martinez realized after making the stop in the third quarter that it would give the offense a chance to drive down the field and score. As it happened, the game winner came on the leg of Ah Lee Yart, who kicked the 27-yard field goal as time expired to propel the team as regional champions and improve to 13-0 on the season.
"We were just actually trying to control the clock and work it down as much as we could, because we have a lot of faith in Ah Lee," head coach Aaron Dunnam said. "Bottom line is we made plays when we had to, and we did it there at the end."
Yart said after the game that it was just a normal field goal for him. He didn't feel any pressure as he put his foot down and kicked the game winner.
Dunnam said he was proud of his players as he has been all season. They stepped up against a tough opponent.
"An offense that averaged 50 points a game, and pretty proud of our offense too," Dunnam said. "We were just back and forth, back and forth. That's what I talked about at halftime, it's just going to come down to whoever made a final stop."
Josh Turner feels proud and confident with this team.
"We gotten over that hump," he said after the game. "It's obviously something being in the playoffs (that) hasn't been done in Dumas in a long time. ... I think as long as we play as hard as we can and execute to our full potential, we have a really good chance at it this year."
The defense has made plays when necessary and kept them in games all season. Turner said the defense is pretty special.
"I think the defense has been very solid this season," he said. "... Our defense has a habit of making it off the field when we need to."
It is a different team than last year. In the last meeting between these two teams, Dumas had a total of 378 yards on offense with 151 on the ground and 227 through the air. Decatur had 552 total yards, with 467 passing and 85 coming on the ground.
In this game, Dumas put up 358 yards on the ground and 181 passing yards for a total of 539. Decatur had a total of 447 yards on offense, with 217 rushing and 230 passing.
Williams completed the night with 11-of-20 passing for 181 yards and two touchdowns. He also carried the ball 21 times and picked up 123 yards and two touchdowns.
The rushing leader was Jacob Mares, with 79 yards on 25 carries and one touchdown.
Rodriguez picked up 17 yards on six carries. Victor Chavez had two touches for 16 yards and Louis Ortiz also had two carries for 15 yards.
Also for the Demons, James Bednorz, Juan Romero and Orozco each had a carry for short yardage.
Receiving leaders were Orozco with two catches for 57 yards and a score, Kyle Stroebel, who had three receptions for 56 yards and Romero, who picked up 39 yards on two catches.
Rodriguez had one reception for nine yards and the score. Chavez, Ortiz and Mares each had a catch for eight, seven and five yards, respectively.
Yart finished completing one field goal attempt and five extra points for a total of eight. He punted twice for 84 yards and had one inside the 20-yard line.
Williams punted twice for 38 yards.
Orozco had a punt return for eight yards, and he also had two kick returns for 35 yards. Jacob Pinales had two kick returns for nine yards for the Demons.
Dumas ran 80 plays and held the ball for 33:26, while Decatur had 52 plays and only held the ball for 14:34. With most of their possessions, the Eagles scored quickly.
Defensively, Dallan Dill led with three tackles. Brayden Boggs-Rushing, Caleb Suggs and Cade Cox each had two tackles, while Suggs also had an interception. Broc Kinikin, Jose Fuentes, Chris Delatorre and Turner each contributed a tackle in the game.
Dumas picked up 29 first downs to Decatur's 18. Dumas also converted 10-of-17 third downs and 2-of-3 fourth downs, while Decatur had 5-of-11 successful third down conversions.
Dumas had four penalties for 20 yards, while Decatur had four penalties for 30 yards.
Dumas next travels to Midland to square off against Springtown at Grande Communications Stadium Friday, Dec. 6. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. for the state quarterfinal championship.