Henrietta staved off a second-half comeback by Nocona for a narrow 24-22 win over the Indians, clinching second place in District 5-AA and keeping its playoff streak alive.
“That’s huge, that’s big for us,” said Henrietta Head Coach Byron West. “And we knew it going in, too.”
The Bearcats have more consecutive playoff seasons than any other team in the greater Wichita Falls area.
Quarterback Kolten Booher scored three times for the Bearcats, literally carrying Henrietta to the win. Booher finished the night with 234 yards on 28 carries.
Henrietta opened the game with a 72-yard drive, moving downfield on 10 plays and setting up Booher’s first touchdown, a two-yard run.
Booher struck again in the second quarter on a 65-yard touchdown run. Kicker Jameson Dowell was accurate on both point-after kicks, giving the Bearcats a 14-0 lead.
Henrietta almost took a three-score lead when linebacker Korben Allen picked up a Nocona fumble midway through the second quarter and carried it more than 35 yards into the end zone. The touchdown was called back on a holding penalty.
With 36.6 seconds remaining in the first half, Nocona put its first points on the board with a 2-yard run from Hayden Hill. Nocona fumbled again on the next play, recovered by Bearcat Ethan Cantrell.
In the third quarter, Dowell extended Henrietta’s lead with a 27-yard field goal. Passing quarterback Ben Fletcher connected with receivers C.D. Crumpton (25 yards) and Cole Alford (five yards) to put the Bearcats within range.
Nocona answered on its next possession, and with just more than two minutes left in the third, with a 15-yard touchdown run from Bryce Dingler. Hill followed with a two-point conversion run to move the Indians within two, 17-15.
“It was real uncomfortable,” said West of the two-point difference. “I don’t know that we ever had that sinking feeling that something bad was happening, but we handled (the situation).”
Booher again pulled Henrietta into a comfortable lead with 7:36 remaining, on a one-yard run. Nocona failed in a field goal attempt to give Henrietta possession at its own 25-yard line. The Bearcats moved the ball on runs from Booher and Dalton Day.
Nocona struck for the final time on a one-yard touchdown run by Hill.
Day sealed the win for the Bearcats on a big break with under a minute remaining.
Fletcher covered Nocona’s onside kick to put Henrietta on the Nocona 49-yard line, but was moved back for a chop block penalty to first-and-25 on the Bearcat 36. Two plays later, Day broke loose for a 53-yard run. Henrietta moved to Nocona’s 4-yard line before letting time expire. Day finished with 11 carries for 79 yards.
“That sealed it. They were out of time outs and couldn’t do anything about it,” said West of Day’s run.
The Bearcats totaled 362 yards total offense, with 332 yards rushing on 43 carries. Fletcher completed two of four passes for 30 yards. Henrietta attempted nine passes total.
Nocona had 222 yards rushing on 46 carries and connected on six of 14 pass attempts for 90 yards.
Defensively, Coty McKelvey led the Bearcats with 13 tackles, followed by Allen with 12 and Crumpton with eight.
Holliday defeated City View 30-0 Friday night to claim the 5-AA title. Nocona faces City View Nov. 4 to determine third place, and the final playoff spot, in district.