VERNON – There’s the old adage that “speed kills” and it rang true in a big way Monday evening at Lion Stadium, as Everman (9-4) advanced to the Class 5A Division II State Quarter-Finals for the second straight year with a 49-33 win over Canyon (10-3).
Once again without a fully healthy Kierre Crossley, Everman used multiple ball carriers to keep the Canyon defense off balance and it paid off as the Bulldogs rolled up 345 yards on the ground. The Bulldogs passing game was good enough as well as three of Michael Boone’s four pass completions went for touchdowns as the Everman offense totaled 482 yards of offense on the night.
Crossley, Everman’s senior running back who finished with over 3,000 yards as a junior gave the Bulldogs their first two scores but he was rendered ineffective in the second half battling an ankle injury suffered in the area round win over Wichita Falls Rider.
Canyon in a losing effort got a monster effort from junior signal caller Gunnar Palacios who threw for 253 yards and a pair of scores while also rushing for 148 yards and three touchdowns. “Gunnar is a great player, we are happy to have him for one more year and we think he’s a talent that can play at the next level,” said Bryant.
Everman scored every time they touched the ball in the first half in building a 28-13 halftime edge, Crossley had a pair of touchdown runs, while Boone tossed scoring passes to Chase Hall and Jyron Hill. The nail in the coffin came on the first play of the second half as Boone found Hall wide open against a blown coverage and Hall outraced the Canyon defense to the end zone to put Everman up 35-13.
Trailing 49-19 in the fourth quarter, Canyon fought back with a 17 yard run from Palacios, after recovering the onside kick, the Eagles struck again with a 39 yard strike from Palacios to Garrett Cobb to cut the Everman lead to 49-33. Everman would fall on the final onside kick to end any hopes of a comeback and after a 20 yard run by sophomore RB Kenneth Johnson EHS would take a knee to run the clock out.
The win sets Everman up with Lake Dallas in the Class 5A Division II Region I final next Saturday at AT&T Stadium, the game is slated for a 10:30am kickoff. “I’ve been coaching a million years and even I’m excited, said Everman Head Coach Dale Keeling. “It’s a neat deal for the entire school, we get to play and coach there and our band, drill team and everyone gets to perform there, we are thrilled to still be playing.”