Vandals suffer second straight season-ending loss to Kennedale, 42-28

A furious second half rally by the Van Vandals came up short at the end and as a result, for the second year in a row, the Kennedale Wildcats eliminated Van from the Class 4A, Division I state playoffs, 42-28, Friday afternoon at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco.

Coach Jared Moffatt’s Vandals end their 2017 campaign with an overall season mark of 10-2 finishing as the runner-up in District 8-4A, Division I and as Class 4A, Division I bi-district champions.

Kennedale, 11-1, which rallied in the second half in the state quarterfinals last season to defeat the Vandals, 34-28, moves on to the Class 4A, Division I regional semifinal round.

The Vandals trailed early in the third quarter, 24-7, before scoring two touchdowns in a 14-second span to cut their deficit to 24-21 but they were unable to get over the hump against the Wildcats.

It was the first time all season that Kennedale failed to score at least 50 points in a victory and the 28 points scored by Van were the most scored by a Wildcat opponent in any game in 2017.

Kennedale fought off any attempts at a complete comeback by the Vandals with a dominating running game that registered 356 yards rushing led by running back Jaden Knowles with 154 yards rushing on 22 carries and two touchdowns while his backfield teammate, Davonta McClain contributed 88 yards rushing on 13 carries and two TD’s.

Wildcat quarterback Evan Jowers finished the game with 115 yards rushing on 11 carries including a 53-yard TD run early in the third quarter.

Senior QB Garrett Moseley, in his final game in a Vandal uniform, completed 17 out of 42 passes for 203 yards, two TD’s and one interception.

Receiver Gus Brewer of the Vandals finished with an impressive performance as he caught 10 passes for 120 yards and one TD in addition to tossing a 50-yard “flea-flicker” TD pass to receiver Ethan Robinson during Van’s comeback attempt in the third quarter.

Following a Vandal punt, the Wildcats moved from their own 38 to the Vandal 4-yard line on seven consecutive running plays including gains of 34 yards by McClain and 12 yards by Jowers.

Van’s defense stiffened and on fourth down and goal at the Vandal 4-yard line, Kevin Tiero was sent in to attempt a 21-yard field goal which was good to give Kennedale a 3-0 lead with 6:54 remaining in the first quarter.

The Vandals threatened to take the lead on their next offensive series as they advanced from their own 25 to the Kennedale 34 in seven plays including an 11-yard pass completion from Moseley to RB Elijah Rankine and two Wildcat penalties (face mask and pass interference).

The scoring threat for Van ended on fourth down and 15 at the Wildcat 34 when Moseley’s pass to Brewer was incomplete giving the ball back to Kennedale.

Kennedale was later forced to punt and the kick was returned 29 yards by Van’s Ridge Preston to the Vandal 49.

Nine plays later, Moseley ran into the end zone from three yards away. Calen McKinney added the extra point to give the Vandals a 7-3 advantage with 10:47 remaining in the second quarter. Key plays in the Vandal scoring drive included running gains of 11 and 14 yards by Moseley.

Kennedale responded by moving 60 yards in seven plays to re-take the lead as Knowles plunged into the end zone on a 1-yard TD run to end the march. Tiero added the extra point giving the Wildcats a 10-7 lead with 7:14 to play in the second quarter.

A 20-yard run by Jowers, a defensive holding penalty against the Vandals and a 23-yard pass completion from Jowers to tight end Nathan Otts were key plays in the go-ahead scoring drive for Kennedale.

Following a Vandal punt, the Wildcats extended their lead by moving 55 yards in eight plays (seven running).

McClain ended the march with a 21-yard TD run. Tiero added the extra point giving Kennedale a 17-7 advantage with 1:32 to play before halftime. A 17-yard run by Knowles was a key play in the scoring drive for the Wildcats.

After another Vandal punt, the Wildcats appeared to be trying to run out the first half clock when Knowles fumbled and Van defensive back Marcus Orozco recovered the loose football at the Kennedale 48 with 36 seconds to play before intermission.

Four plays later, including a 10-yard pass completion from Moseley to Rankine, the Vandals attempted a “Hail Mary” pass into the end zone on the final play of the first half from the Kennedale 40 but the pass from Moseley to Rankine in the end zone was incomplete.

Kennedale received the third quarter kickoff and moved 53 yards in three play as Jowers, on third down and 10, scrambled down the sideline for a 53-yard TD run. Tiero added the extra point giving Kennedale a seemingly comfortable 24-7 lead with 11:01 remaining in the third quarter.

Van then began to rally as they took the ensuing kickoff and advanced 75 yards in seven plays against Kennedale.

Moseley ended the march by connecting with receiver Ethan Robinson on a 23-yard TD pass play. McKinney added the extra point to cut Van’s deficit to 24-14 with 7:56 to play in the third quarter.

Pass completions from Moseley to Brewer covering 27 and 16 yards and a 10-yard run by RB Davonta Johnson were key plays in the Vandal scoring drive.

Van then stunned Kennedale with a successful onside kick as kickoff specialist Eduardo Imparato recovered his own kick at midfield setting up another bizarre play by the Vandals.

On the next play, Brewer took a reverse handoff and fired a pass downfield to a wide-open Robinson who cruised into the end zone for the second Vandal TD in 14 seconds to move closer on the scoreboard. McKinney added the extra point and suddenly, the Vandals trailed by only three points, 24-21, with 7:40 remaining in the third quarter.

Amazingly, the Vandals attempted another onside kick which was again recovered by Imparato but the Vandals were penalized for being offsides resulting in the next kickoff landing in the end zone for a touchback.

Kennedale then moved from its own 25 to the Vandal 14 in eight plays including a 10-yard run by Knowles and a 34-yard pass completion from Jowers to David Roper II.

Van’s defense kept the Wildcats out of the end zone and on fourth down and six at the Van 14, Tiero was sent in to attempt his second FG try, this time a 31-yard effort which again was good extending the Wildcat advantage to 27-21 with 3:36 to play in the third quarter.

After a Vandal punt, the Wildcats began to pull away as they moved 64 yards on eight consecutive running plays.

McClain ended the time-consuming march with a 2-yard TD run. Larry Brooks ran in the two-point conversion giving Kennedale a 35-21 lead with 9:47 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Following an exchange of punts, the Vandals put together what would turn out to be their final scoring drive of the 2017 season as they moved 42 yards in 10 plays to draw closer to Kennedale on the scoreboard.

On fourth down and goal, Moseley connected with Brewer on a 3-yard TD pass play to end the march. McKinney added the extra point cutting Van’s deficit to 35-28 with 2:39 remaining.

Two 10-yard pass completions from Moseley to Brewer as well as a pass interference penalty against Kennedale were key plays in the final scoring march for the Vandals.

Following a failed onside kick attempt by the Vandals, Kennedale needed one play to put the game completely out of reach for Van as Knowles raced 46 yards for a TD. Tiero added the extra point giving Kennedale a 42-28 lead with 2:29 to play in the game.

Van’s final offensive series of the game ended with a turnover as Moseley’s pass to Brewer on first down at the Vandal 30 was intercepted by Wildcat cornerback J. D. Coffey allowing Kennedale to run out the clock and end the season for the Vandals.