Blum outraces McLean, captures first football state title

Blum outraces McLean, captures first football state title

ARLINGTON — All year, Blum had a refuse-to-lose mentality.

The Bobcats kept that going in the biggest game in school history.

Coltin Gonzales raced for a 29-yard touchdown for the winning score with 58 seconds left, sending Blum past defending state champ McLean, 58-52, in an entertaining Class 1A Division I state championship game at AT&T Stadium on Wednesday. Blum (13-2) picked up its 13th straight win and captured the first football state title in school history.

The Bobcats started out the year 0-2 with losses to McLean and Jonesboro, but picked up some payback by beating Jonesboro in the state semifinals and McLean in the final.

Blum trailed 22-8 in the first quarter after McLean’s Ben Crockett broke off his second TD run of the game, this one from 42 yards out. But Blum’s been down before, and wasn’t fazed.

The Bobcats scored on a sweet 53-yard pass play from Dylan Vardeman to Koby Clinkscales on the final play of the first quarter, cutting the gap to 22-16. Then they took the lead on the only score of the second quarter, a 1-yard dive from Gonzales.

Gonzales, who went for 232 rushing yards and five TDs in the game, helped Blum widen the gap in the third quarter with TD runs of 11 and 13 yards. Even after Crockett scored for McLean on an 8-yard run, the Bobcats had an answer, as Trey Bullard took the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to the house.

But the Tigers (13-2) weren’t dead. They came storming back in the fourth, and when Crockett scored on another 8-yard jaunt with 2:15 to go, the score was all tied at 52.

Gonzales and the Bobcats would not be denied. He ran for 18 yards on Blum’s first play of the next possession. After a false start penalty, Vardeman found Harley Martindale open for another 18-yard pickup. That set up Gonzales, who took the pitch and went around the right edge for the 29-yard, game-winning TD.

McLean got the ball back and managed to move to the Blum 23-yard-line, but the Bobcats’ defense held, setting off a state championship celebration.

Crockett was terrific for McLean, carrying 27 times for 215 yards and four TDs while passing for another 254 yards and three scores. Vardeman overcame two interceptions to hit 5 of 8 passes for 143 yards and two TDs, both to Clinkscales, who had three grabs for 111 yards. Vardeman also picked up 8.5 tackles and a pass breakup.

Blum’s state title is the first UIL six-man crown for a Central Texas team since Abbott in 2015.