ROBERT LEE — The No. 1-ranked May Tigers wore down No. 4 Water Valley in the second half to pull away for a 70-49 win Saturday in their Class 1A Division I state quarterfinal football game at Griffith Stadium in Robert Lee.
It was a meeting of undefeated teams, and the game didn't disappoint.
However, Water Valley was unexpectedly playing without all-state running back Canon Wiese, who suffered a broken collarbone last week. That turned the game upside down as the typically run-heavy Wildcats threw 43 passes.
In the end, Water Valley simply couldn't keep up with May, which scored on each of its final eight drives.
May improved to 13-0 and advances to the state semifinals next week against No. 3 Abbott at 6 p.m. Saturday in Dublin. Water Valley's season ended at 12-1.
Water Valley head coach Nathan Hayes talked about the challenge of playing without Wiese, whose season-ending injury wasn't discovered until Thursday.
"May's a great football team, and I'm not taking away any credit from them. But No. 7 has been our offense for the last two years. He's probably about 95% of our offense," Hayes said. "So I thought it did change our game plan a lot. We're a running football team, and we kind of missed that a little bit tonight.
"But no excuses. I thought our other kids stepped up, and we passed the ball and ran hard."
Wiese's absence was perhaps felt most on a pivotal goal-line stand by May early in the second quarter.
Leading 14-8, Water Valley was stopped on back-to-back plays from the 1-yard line to turn the ball over on downs.
May then drove 79 yard to tie the game, and the Tigers never trailed again.
"That goal-line stand was huge," May head coach Craig Steele said. "We were not playing particularly well, and that goal-line stand really got us going."
It sparked a 22-0 run that gave May a 30-14 lead with 1:57 left in the second quarter.
But Water Valley regrouped and scored with 10 seconds left in the half to get within 30-22 at halftime.
The Wildcats then scored on the opening drive of the second half to make it 30-28.
Water Valley was able to convert a fourth down five times on the night to keep hanging around.
"We got them to fourth down I don't know how many times, and then they'd pick up the first. That was frustrating," Steele said. "But credit to them and their coaching staff. They had those kids ready, and they played their tails off tonight."
May was able to come up with a stop on its next defensive series, and that was all the Tigers needed with the way their offense was rolling.
May led 50-36 after the third quarter, and the Tigers took a 20-point lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
Kaden Halk rushed for 134 yards, followed by Avery Williford with 94, Blake Harrell with 78 and Braden Steele with 63.
"Man, the kids did a great job blocking tonight and getting after it," Craig Steele said. "I think blocking is probably (Water Valley's) calling card, and I thought we did a good job as well."
Water Valley actually outgained May 546 to 426 in total yardage, but the Wildcats also ran 79 plays compared to 42 for the Tigers.
Nathan Treadaway filled in admirably for Wiese with 96 rushing yards and 103 receiving yards.
Treadaway is one of nine seniors for Water Valley, along with Wiese, Kyle Banister, Conner Glass, Gabriel Smith, Chance Doty, Josiah Padilla, Jaysen Gomez and Marc Gonzalez.
After suffering through losing records as freshmen and sophomores, they finished their high school careers as one of the best teams in the state.
"I thought our seniors were extra special," Hayes said. "As sophomores, they didn't have a lot of leadership and guys to look up to. They were the leaders. They've been the leaders since junior high. And these guys stepped up and showed our younger guys what it's supposed to be like."
May 70, Water Valley 49
Water Valley 14 8 14 13 — 49
May 8 22 20 20 — 70
WV - Anthony Quintana 5 run (kick failed), 8:15 remaining
M - Avery Williford 11 pass from Blake Harrell (Kaysen King kick), 3:00
WV - Tallon Hayes 24 run (Gabriel Smith kick), 2:31
M — Williford 32 run (King kick), 6:22
M - Harrell 14 run (King kick), 3:26
M - Kaden Halk 18 run (King kick), 1:57
WV - Smith 8 pass from Conner Glass (Smith kick), :10
WV - Nathan Treadaway 38 pass from Glass (kick blocked), 7:54
M - Halk 46 run (kick blocked), 7:43
M - Harrell 8 run (King kick), 3:03
WV - Smith 13 pass from Glass (Smith kick), :29
M - Williford 38 kickoff return (kick failed), :23
M - Harrell 1 run (kick failed), 9:36
WV - Hayes 6 pass from Treadaway (Hayes pass from Smith), 6:39
M - Braden Steele 34 run (King kick), 5:11
WV - Treadaway 46 pass from Glass (kick failed), 3:36
M - Halk 2 run (kick failed), 1:40
First downs 21 18
Rushing-yards 36-218 35-359
Passing 328 67
Comp-att-int 20-43-0 3-7-0
Punts-avg 0-0 0-0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 3-1
Penalties-yards 7-57 4-38
RUSHING: Water Valley - Tallon Hayes 11-51, Anthony Quintana 4-15, Gabriel Smith 3-1, Nathan Treadaway 13-96, Conner Glass 5-55; May - Kaden Halk 12-134, Avery Williford 9-94, Blake Harrell 10-78, Braden Steele 3-63, TEAM 1-(-10).
PASSING: Water Valley - Gabriel Smith 6-10-0 for 84, Nathan Treadaway 1-1-0 for 6, Conner Glass 13-32-0 for 238; May - Blake Harrell 3-6-0 for 67, Luke McKenzie 0-1-0 for 0.
RECEIVING: Water Valley - Anthony Quintana 1-35, Conner Glass 3-37, Gabriel Smith 5-69, Nathan Treadaway 4-103, Tallon Hayes 3-15, Josiah Padilla 3-51, Kyle Banister 1-18; May - Jackson Easterling 1-14, Avery Williford 1-11, Kaden Halk 1-42.
This article originally appeared on San Angelo Standard-Times: May football team knocks out Water Valley in state quarterfinals