Gainesville running back Adam Berryman ran for 156 yards Friday night, but it was his final yard that made all the difference.
Berryman pounded in the game-winning touchdown as time expired from 1-yard out to give the Leopards a 20-19 win over Krum and at least a share of the District 9-3A title in front of a packed house at Leopard Stadium.
“We just told (quarterback Denzel Johnson) to read the play,” Gainesville coach Keith Hall said. “It was 36 veer. We told them to just read it. We did a great job coming off the line and they were able to find a little bubble to squeeze into. It was a great run.”
The Leopards (9-0, 3-0) can clinch an outright district championship with a win over Bridgeport next week.
Berryman’s game-high rushing total came on 29 carries in the game. He has 1,235 yards rushing on the year now.
The game-winning touchdown capped a wild fourth quarter that saw three lead changes after both offenses were silent for most of the first three quarters.
Krum (9-1, 3-1) took the lead with 2:54 left in the game on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Caz Wojciak to running back Reed Flores. Wojciak found Flores open in the end zone on a wheel route on the backside of the play to give the Bobcats a 19-14 lead at the time.
Flores ran for 102 yards on 23 carries in the game to lead the Bobcats, who are in their first season of varsity football. Wojciak had 42 yards on 11 carries.
“Krum is a heck of a football team,” Hall said. “You have to take your hate off to them. They are really good.”
Flores’ late touchdown was the second consecutive score for the Bobcats in the fourth quarter.
With the Leopards backed up on their own 1, Krum forced a Leopard fumble in the end zone and Bobcat safety Travis White pounced on it. The ensuing extra point was wide left, though, making the score 14-13.
White was all over the field for the Bobcats, intercepting three passes – one of which was returned 17 yards for a first quarter touchdown – to go along with his touchdown fumble recovery.
Johnson ran for 83 yards for the Leopards on nine carries. The Leopard senior quarterback broke free on a 61-yard touchdown with 11:36 to go in the game to put Gainesville up with a seemingly insurmountable14-7 lead at the time.
“The kids kept battling, battling and battling,” Hall said. “They showed the kind of fight they have.”
When the offense wasn’t there for the Leopards, the defense stepped up. Prior to the fumble in the end zone, Gainesville’s Zukari Long and Chris White stuffed Flores on a fourth-and-1 from the Leopards’ 2 to take over on downs.
The Leopard defense stalled Krum in the third quarter as well as the Bobcats took it to the Gainesville 34 before turning the ball over on downs on a fourth-and-2.
“The defense played great,” Hall said. “Anytime we needed a stop they were there. That’s what they have done all year long.”
Leopard running back Jonathan Mendez tied the game at 7-all with a 42-yard run with 1:40 to go in the first quarter. The senior took a toss around the right side of the Gainesville line, broke two tackles before going the distance.
Gainesville’s at-least share of the district title is the first since 2005. It’s a drastic turnaround for the Leopards, who were 2-8 a year ago.
“The kids have really bought into everything we’re teaching,” Hall said. “It sounds kind of cliché, but we really do all love each other. We’re a family. We have our ups and downs but the kids are doing things the right way. I couldn’t be more proud of this group.”
Gainesville 20, Krum 19
Krum 7 0 0 12 – 19
Gainesville 7 0 0 13 – 20
Krum – Travis White 17 interception return (Morgan Sprayberry kick), 8:26
GHS – Jonathan Mendez 42 run (Hector Sagrero kick), 1:40
GHS – Denzel Johnson 61 run (Sagrero kick), 11:36
Krum – White fumble recovery in end zone (kick failed), 8:03
Krum – Reed Florese 10 pass from Caz Wojciak (pass failed), 2:54
GHS – Adam Berryman 1 run (quarterback kneel), :00
First downs 14 15
Total yards 248 321
Rushing 40-182 46-297
Passing 66 24
C-A-I 5-8-0 3-8-3
Pen-yards 3-25 10-60
Punt-Avg. 4-32 2-35
Fum-L 0-0 1-1
Rushing – Krum, Reed Flores 23-102; Caz Wojciak 11-42; Jake Fleckenstein 4-39; Brennan Ellis 2-(minus-1). Gainesville, Adam Berryman 24-156; Denzel Johnson 9-83; Jonathan Mendez 6-58; Jacob Royal 2-0.
Passing – Krum, Wojciak 5-8-0-66. Gainesville, Johnson 3-8-3-24.
Receiving – Krum, Ellis 1-25; Tanner Rankin 1-18; Flores 1-10; Trevor Enis 1-7; Fleckenstein 1-6. Gainesville, David Moore 3-24.