COPPERAS COVE, TEXAS — Two highly rated community college offenses met in the C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl Saturday in Copperas Cove, Texas.
In the end — despite nearly 90 points being scored — a defensive play was the difference.
Trinity Valley Community College scored 10 points in the final minute of the game to pull out a 48-41 win over Garden City Community College, which finished the season at 8-4.
Garden City found itself down 17-0 just 17 minutes into the contest, but battled back to take the lead twice in the fourth quarter, including a 41-38 lead late.
“We cleaned up some things and got back to assignment football in the second half,” GCCC coach Jeff Sims said.
Trinity Valley tied it at 41 on a field goal with a minute to play, and on a day when GCCC quarterback Terry Wilson threw for 337 yards and four touchdowns — and was named the bowl's offensive MVP — the Busters had a chance to win it with a late drive. But Wilson's pass was picked off by Trinity Valley's Prince Robinson and returned 25 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
A pair of pick-six touchdowns by the Broncbusters’ defense got them back into the contest. The first one happened late in the third quarter, when Dillon Williams — a Holcomb product — returned an interception 51 yards to pull within three points.
“We were blitzing on the play and the ball fell right into my hands,” Williams said. “I saw the green end zone in front of me, but worried about getting caught from behind.”
The touchdown seemed to be a turning point for GCCC, which struggled for any offense in the first half.
Trinity Valley got off to a quick start, scoring in six plays on its first drive. Quarterback Shelton Eppler hit Tony Mullins with a 16-yard touchdown pass at the 13:08 mark. Angel Sevier hit the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Sevier connected on a 46-yard field goal for a 10-0 Trinity Valley lead six minutes into the contest.
Trinity Valley upped the lead to 17-0 two minutes into the second quarter on a second touchdown pass from Eppler to Mullins.
Garden City finally put together a drive, marching 68 yards in eight plays midway through the second quarter. Nigel Kilby used his height to catch a 5-yard touchdown pass from Wilson over the Cardinal defender. James White converted the extra point for GCCC.
Garden City had a long touchdown pass called back on a holding call on its next possession, and trailed 17-7 at the end of the first half.
The Busters took the opening kickoff of the third quarter 75 yards in 10 plays. Kilby scored his second touchdown of the game on a 2-yard pass from Wilson at the 12:15 mark of the third quarter.
Eppler put the Cardinals ahead by 10 points again on a 1-yard run at the 7:52 point of the third quarter. The Cardinals were stopped three times inside the 5-yard line, before Eppler scored.
Williams had his pick-six, and the Broncbusters trailed 24-21 at the 3:13 mark of the third quarter.
But the Cardinals recovered with a 69-yard drive to regain a 10-point lead. Eppler hit Tristen Wallace for a 19-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, which ended with the Cardinals leading 31-21.
The Busters' Meiko Dotson pulled them within 31-28 just 32 seconds into the fourth quarter, when he jumped a route and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown.
Garden City stopped the Cardinals on their next possession, and finally had a chance to take the lead. Remi Simmons caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Wilson at the 11:28 mark for the Busters' first lead of the game at 35-31.
That lead was short-lived as Prince Robinson returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown.
Daniel Davis — who racked up 169 receiving yards — gave the Broncbusters their final lead on a 10-yard pass from Wilson with just more than 10 minutes remaining in the game. Garden City moved 53 yards in only four plays on the drive. The extra point was missed for a 3-point lead, 41-38.
Sevier tied the game for TVCC on a 42-yard field goal with one minute remaining in the game, setting up the pick-6 game-winner by the Cardinals.
Wilson was named as the MVP for Garden City in the game. He finished with more than 400 yards in offense (337 passing and 64 rushing) for Garden City. Andreus Price finished with 10 tackles for Garden City, and Williams had nine.