Queen Jeffress boots game-winning field goal for Dawson


PEARLAND — As expected, the game between the Dawson Eagles and the Pearland Oilers in the annual PearBowl came down to the final minute as it has done the previous three meetings.

The Oilers won the first two games and Dawson has now tied up the series with their 38-35 win with 1:08 left in the game thanks to her Majesty the Queen, senior placekicker Claire Jeffress, who calmly sent a 30-yard field goal through the uprights giving the Eagles the hard-fought District 23-6A victory.

Jeffress was recently crowned the 2017 Dawson Homecoming Queen and this is the second game in the past three weeks that she has been instrumental in seeing the Eagles pull out a last minute victory to improve to 5-1 on the season.

Both teams entered the game undefeated in district action with Pearland at 3-0 and Dawson at 2-0. The win by Dawson now gives them the edge for the league championship.

"I just wanted to do what I've always done and not think of it as any big deal," said Jeffress of her game-deciding kick. "My team had faith in me, and they were going to block for me, and the snap and the hold were going to be good, so I just had to do my job."

It appeared that Dawson was going to run away with the game in the first half as the Eagles built a 21-7 lead.

Arizona commit Darrius Smith had a pair of 5-yard scoring runs in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead, but Pearland came back with 10:22 left in the second period to close the gap to 14-7 when Adam Tillman snared a beautiful 29-yard scoring strike from junior quarterback Austin Landry.

But 19 seconds later, Dawson's Aeneas McClure found a hole up the middle of the Pearland defense and turned on the jets for a crowd-pleasing 57-yard touchdown to push the lead to 21-7 with 10:03 left in the stanza.

The Oilers went on a closing first half drive that was capped off with another perfect toss from Landry to Cinsai Pinkston covering 20 yards with 3:13 left before intermission to cut the lead to 21-14.

With little time left, the Eagles drove to the Pearland 1-yard line. Facing fourth-and-goal, Wells opted to go for the two score lead at the half, but the Pearland defense stacked up the play and the officials ruled that Dawson quarterback Patrick Kramer was short with no time left on the clock.

"The ball's on the one-credit-card-line, and we thought we got in," Wells said. "But at halftime, we just told the guys we have to worry about what we can control.

"We scored on our first possession of the third quarter, but we knew the game was never out of reach."

After Pearland took the kickoff to begin the second half, the Dawson defense did their part in forcing a punt.

Taking possession at their own 28, Kramer found Mason Pierce wide-open and the speedster outran the Oiler secondary for a 72-yard scoring jaunt to make the score 28-14 following the PAT by Jeffress.

However, as history has presented itself, no lead is safe as the Oilers came storming back with two touchdowns as Landry scored on a 1-yard sneak and on the next possession used his wheels to score on a 49-yard burst down the sideline to tie up the game 28-28 with 2:27 left in the third quarter.

Pearland had an opportunity to take the lead on their first possession of the fourth quarter when a Trenton Deshotel to Tillman option pass covering 44-yards caught the Dawson defense napping.

But Pearland became their own worst enemy as they had a first-and-goal at the Dawson six-yard line.

The next three plays saw the Oilers come unraveled as Landry fumbled twice losing 6-yards. The second time Landry was on his way to score around the right side, lost the handle on the ball, and kicked the ball out of bounds.

That set up a 27-yard field goal attempt to give the Oilers a 31-28 lead, but that, too, was muffed as the snap was high and the holder bobbled the ball while Dawson blocked the attempt.

The miscues inspired the Dawson offense as Smith went on a 66-yard cross-country run to the Pearland 13 when they got the ball back. Smith would get the call again for the rest of the yardage to score and give the Eagles a 35-28 lead with 8:06 left in the game.

The Oilers still weren't going to go away as Pearland took advantage of a Dawson miscue in their own end of the field.

With 4:21 left in the game, backup quarterback Layne Roblyer hit Kolton Bradley in the back of the end zone and Jacob Keller booted his fifth PAT to tie up the game at 35-35.

Dawson began their game-winning drive with 4:14 left in the fourth quarter from its own 28.

Wells put the ball in the hands of Smith for nine straight carries to the Pearland 13.

Facing fourth down, Wells never hesitated in sending in Jeffress to break the tie.

"It's come down to the last play of the game four years in a row," Wells said of the Pearland-Dawson matchup. "I don't know what to say. I'm so excited for our kids to be in the driver's seat and to get a big win in district."

Jeffress lined up her kick with a calmness and confidence that she needed. The snap was perfect, the hold was on point, and Jeffress used her short-step approach to send the ball skyward as more than 12,000 people held their breath.

The ball was launched and began its descent toward the goal post clearing the cross bar by about three inches as the officials confirmed with the other that the ball had cleared its mark and was good sending the Dawson fans into a frenzy for a 38-35 lead with 1:08 left in the game.

"It means everything that I was able to support my team the way they have supported me," Jeffress said. "From the players to the coaches to the school, everybody has completely supported me through my entire journey to my senior year.

"I'm so glad I could experience this one tonight."

Kramer was 5-for-8 passing for 148 yards and one TD.

Smith had 154 yards rushing on 32 carries and three touchdowns while McClure had nine carries for 91 yards and one score.

Pierce had five catches for 141 yards and one TD.

Dawson will host their final game of the regular season on Friday, Oct. 27 at 7:00 p.m. at The Rig when they face Alief Elsik.

Pearland will travel to Traylor Stadium to face George Ranch on Friday, Oct. 27 at 7:00 p.m.