EARLY – Three minutes into the Six-Man Division I, Region III championship game, the No. 9 Richland Springs Coyotes had forced a pair of turnovers and owned an 8-0 lead over the No. 5 Strawn Greyhounds.
But moments later, Richland Springs’ best offensive player — senior spread back Haustin Burkhart – suffered a knee injury that ended his night, and the Coyotes never recovered as defending state champion Strawn rolled to a 70-22 victory at Longhorn Stadium Friday night.
Burkhart – who entered the game with 1,446 yards rushing and 36 touchdowns, along with 1,693 passing yards and 36 scoring tosses – completed all four of his pass attempts for 94 yards and rushed for an 18-yard touchdown before exiting the contest.
While the Coyotes (11-2) finished with 316 total yards, it took more than a quarter for Richland Springs to find an offensive rhythm without Burkhart. By that time, Strawn had raced out to a 40-8 lead en route to a 500-yard night offensively.
The Greyhounds (12-1) ran for 393 yards on just 22 carries, led by Joseph Sharp’s 209 yards and three touchdowns on nine rushes. Trey Doyle chipped in 139 yards and two scores on 10 rushes, and James Miller added a 19-yard scoring sprint.
Through the air, Parker Purvis completed 4-of-5 passes for 107 yards with three touchdowns, including a pair to Victor Reyes. Miller also hauled in a touchdown catch.
For Richland Springs, Denim Reeves completed 10-of-17 passes for 134 yards, while Stephen Fowler grabbed seven catches totaling 81 yards. Ben VanCleave caught a 43-yard pass, Reeves had a 38-yard reception, Bryan Torres caught a 23-yard touchdown pass and David Vietch rushed for 62 yards with a 50-yard score.
Strawn pulled even at 8-all with 3:18 left in the first period on Miller’s touchdown run, then Doyle scored on a 36-yard carry with eight seconds left in the quarter to give the Greyhounds the lead for good, 16-8.
Sharp followed with scoring sprints of 22 and 54 yards before Purvis hooked up with Miller on a 12-yard scoring toss to stretch the advantage to 40-8 with 5:51 left in the first half.
Richland Springs answered with Reeves’ 23-yard scoring toss to Torres, but Doyle returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown as Strawn opened a 48-14 lead.
With 48 seconds left in the first half, Sharp scored on a 69-yard run, but Vietch matched it with a 50-yard sprint with 36 seconds remaining in the second period.
On the final snap of the first half, Purvis connected with Reyes on a 43-yard scoring toss to make the score 64-22 at halftime.
The first snap of the third period featured Purvis and Reyes hooking up again on a 37-yard TD pass that ended the contest.
Strawn will face Calvert (13-0) in the state semifinals next weekend.