Indians hold off Gunter, 15-13

Nocona starts quickly, holds on for 12th victory

Zach Duncan
Nocona's Tate Fenoglio (left) and Billy Speights stop Gunter runner Rhett Taylor during Friday's Region II-2A playoff win.

Nocona's Tate Fenoglio (left) and Billy Speights stop Gunter runner Rhett Taylor during Friday's Region II-2A playoff win.

PHOTOS BY Steven Schaffner/Special to the Times Record News
Nocona receiver Bryce Dingler can't bring in the pass from quarterback Hayden Hill.

PHOTOS BY Steven Schaffner/Special to the Times Record News Nocona receiver Bryce Dingler can't bring in the pass from quarterback Hayden Hill.

Nocona's Tate Fenoglio (left) and Billy Speights stop Gunter runner Rhett Taylor during Friday's Region II-2A playoff win.

Nocona's Tate Fenoglio (left) and Billy Speights stop Gunter runner Rhett Taylor during Friday's Region II-2A playoff win.

Steven Schaffner / Special to the Times Record News 
 Nocona defender Billy Speights takes down Gunter's Rhett Taylor Friday night in the Region II-2A playoff game in Denton.

Steven Schaffner / Special to the Times Record News Nocona defender Billy Speights takes down Gunter's Rhett Taylor Friday night in the Region II-2A playoff game in Denton.

Steven Schaffner / Special to the Times Record News 
 Nocona runner Bryce Dingler looks for room to run during Friday's 15-13 Region II-2A playoff win over Gunter in Denton.

Steven Schaffner / Special to the Times Record News Nocona runner Bryce Dingler looks for room to run during Friday's 15-13 Region II-2A playoff win over Gunter in Denton.

Steven Schaffner / Special to the Times Record News 
 Nocona quarterback Hayden Hill passes for a two-point conversion early in the Region II-2A playoff in Denton Friday night.

Steven Schaffner / Special to the Times Record News Nocona quarterback Hayden Hill passes for a two-point conversion early in the Region II-2A playoff in Denton Friday night.

Steven Schaffner / Special to the Times Record News 
 Nocona receiver Edward Cardoza can't quite bring the pass from quarterback Hayden Hill during Friday's Region II-2A playoff game against Gunter in Denton. Gunter's Casen Driskill came up with the interception.

Steven Schaffner / Special to the Times Record News Nocona receiver Edward Cardoza can't quite bring the pass from quarterback Hayden Hill during Friday's Region II-2A playoff game against Gunter in Denton. Gunter's Casen Driskill came up with the interception.

Steven Schaffner / Special to the Times Record News 
 Nocona's Tate Fenoglio (2) tries to get past Gunter defender Garrett Hunter during Friday's 15-13 Region II-2A playoff win in Denton.

Steven Schaffner / Special to the Times Record News Nocona's Tate Fenoglio (2) tries to get past Gunter defender Garrett Hunter during Friday's 15-13 Region II-2A playoff win in Denton.

DENTON — It was sloppy, ugly and filled with turnovers and mistakes.

It was resolute, gritty and never came easy.

But most importantly for Nocona in Friday night's Region II-2A Division II semifinal, it was a victory — and a history-making one at that.

Despite 13 penalties and three second-half turnovers, Nocona claimed a 15-13 win over Gunter at Collins Stadium.

"When you can play that ugly and still come out with a 'W' against a dang-good football team, how good could we be if we fix things?" Nocona coach Brad Keck asked afterward. "And we're going to have to fix things."

Nocona now has 12 victories and has advanced to the state quarterfinals — both firsts for the Montague County town. The Indians (12-0) will face Corsicana Mildred (11-1), a 44-14 winner over Clarksville, at 7:30 p.m. next Friday night in Aledo.

The Indians couldn't celebrate until Hayden Hill and Tate Fenoglio batted down a fourth-down pass from Gunter's Austen Gressett with 1:06 remaining and the Tigers on Nocona's 29-yard line.

Nocona, and especially Hill, survived a second half filled with wave after wave of momentum.

In the second half alone, the senior quarterback made two interceptions and a fourth-down tackle on defense and broke off a 56-yard run late in the game.

But Hill also threw an interception, fumbled a handoff exchange and didn't try to kick the ball out of the end zone late in the third quarter when it was snapped over his head.

Instead, Hill tried to pick it up but couldn't. Gunter's Casen Driskell fell on the pigskin to pull within 15-13.

But the Indians stuffed Cade Cruce inches short on the ensuing two-point conversion. And that was as close as the Tigers would ever get to tying the game. With Nocona's offense stuck in neutral most of the night after an early surge, it was the Indians' defense that came through with critical stops and held Gunter to 200 total yards.

"We've had good offensive games and bad offensive games, but our defense is usually pretty consistent, staying pretty solid," Fenoglio said. "They did a good job containing us in the second half. We tried to hit it up the middle, but their big D-linemen were clogging up the holes, and there wasn't no place to run really."

Nocona was held to 155 rushing yards — 180 below its season average — and Fenoglio had his 18-game streak of 100 yards or more broken.

The Indians gained 133 yards on their first two possessions and then 140 on the final nine times they had the ball. Gunter (10-2) was a big reason for that.

"The kids got the feel of the speed of the game," Gunter coach Jake Fieszel said. "They did a better job of getting off blocks. We adjusted well and we were able to hang in the rest of the game."

Fenoglio's 13-yard touchdown run to open the scoring put the senior up over the 2,000-yard mark for the season.

But Fenoglio's best offensive play of the night was a 37-yard touchdown catch on a long third down in which he dragged across the middle, caught Hill's pass and made multiple Gunter defenders miss.

Nocona was stuck in that third-and-21 because of multiple penalties, which seemed to be a game-long theme. The Indians were penalized 13 times for 91 yards.

But none of that matters. The important thing was a senior-laden ballclub enjoying its finest season kept its state title hopes alive, no matter how pretty it looked.

"We got the job done. It wasn't pretty, but you know what, we won," Hill said. "We've got another week to improve where we messed up. I'm just proud of our team — we stepped up when we needed to."

NOCONA 15, Gunter 13

Nocona 15 0 0 0 — 15

Home 0 7 6 0 — 13

FIRST QUARTER

N — Tate Feoglio 13 run (Edward Cardoza pass from Hayden Hill), 6:21

N — Fenoglio 37 pass from Hayden Hill (Raul Anaya kick), 0:19

SECOND QUARTER

G — Dakota Brewer 15 pass from Austen Gressett (Cade Cruce kick), 10:28

THIRD QUARTER

G — Casen Driskill fumble recovery in end zone (run failed), 2:13

Gunter Nocona

First downs 10 12

Rushes-Yards 35-127 37-155

Passing 73 118

Comp-Att-Int 7-21-2 7-14-1

Punts 4-32.5 4-30.5

Fumbles-Lost 3-0 3-2

Penalties-Yards 7-65 13-91

Individual statistics

RUSHING: (N) Tate Fenoglio 17-96; Hayden Hill 13-76; Bryce Dingler 4-11; team 3-(-28); (G) Cade Cruce 19-91; Dakota Hunter 9-37; J Bailey 3-1; Rhett Taylor 3-0; team 1-(-2).

PASSING: (N) Hill 7-14-1, 118 yards; (G) Bailey 5-16-2, 35; Austen Gressett 1-3-0, 31; Cruce 1-2-0, 7.

RECEIVING: (N) Fenoglio 3-52; Dingler 1-16; (G) Casen Driskell 3-32; Dakota Brewer 1-31; Will Neely 1-7; Taylor 1-3; Dakota Hunter 1-0.

© 2012 Times Record News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 1

oujohnny writes:

for nocona too overcome penalties and turnovers for the win and hold on for the win shows nocona indians are on the right track too go even deeper in the playoffs and maybe could win it all, if every player on this team plays hard and go hard and most of all listen too ur coaches for encouragement and advice... i wish you young men all the best no matter what happens enjoy the moment, until then have a great week in prartice and get ready for corsicanna, something tells me you got this allready, go nocona indians take it down the field too score and never look back...

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