PORT LAVACA – There was something magical about the 2019 version of the Beeville football team.
But the magic ran out Friday night in the second round of the state playoffs.
The El Campo Ricebirds ended the Trojans’ undefeated season, handing them a 49-13 defeat in an area championship at Sandcrab Stadium.
“I don’t know what I’m feeling. It just wasn’t us tonight,” said Trojan senior quarterback Seth Gomez after the loss. “It wasn’t Beeville Trojan football. … Just nothing was going our way tonight.
“But, that’s part of football, that’s part of the sport, that’s what happens in this game.”
The quarterback’s eyes were filled with tears when he talked about the game, and so were his center’s when he tried to describe his feelings.
“Heartbroken. Happy. Mixed emotions,” Matthew Gomez said.
“I mean, we did something Beeville has never done before, but we didn’t want it to end like this.”
The senior center called the year the best season of football he’s ever experienced.
“This is probably the best season I’ve ever had of football. I had the pleasure of playing with a great group of guys. … I couldn’t have asked for more.”
El Campo ran away from the Trojans in the second quarter thanks to its punishing ground game and havoc-wreaking defense.
The Ricebirds (10-2) rattled off 28 unanswered points – thanks to four rushing touchdowns – in that second quarter.
Johntre Davis rushed for touchdowns of 5 and 24 yards, which were sandwiched around a 57-yard TD run by Charles Shorter. Cullen Braden added a 1-yard TD run with 11 seconds left in the quarter to push the Ricebird lead to 35-7 at halftime.
In the second half, Davis capped a time-consuming 15-play drive with a 1-yard TD run. Shorter finished off his team’s scoring with a 30-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter.
Davis finished the game with 163 yards on 34 carries. He had four touchdowns, including the game’s first score, a 2-yard run with three minutes left in the opening quarter.
Shorter racked up 177 yards and the two TDs on 17 carries.
Beeville’s offense, meanwhile, tallied just 133 yards and converted just four first downs.
“From the beginning, we just shot ourselves in the foot. We kept getting behind on downs offensively,” said Trojan coach Chris Soza. “(El Campo) dominated the line of scrimmage, bottom line. They were a lot quicker than we thought. We kept the defense on the field too long.
“They wore us out. Give them credit. They did what we wanted to do.”
S. Gomez evened the game at 7-7 on the final play of the first quarter with a 10-yard run, which came on the first play after a short Ricebird punt and then a penalty that gave the Trojans a short field.
The Trojans’ other touchdown also came on the first play of a possession when William Harper hit Jalen Spicer for a 60-yard passing TD on an end-around pass with 10:12 left in the game.
“They just executed better than we did. Yeah, they just executed,” said Trojan offensive coordinator Eric Soza. “It’s just one of those nights where things weren’t going our way.”
The loss ended Beeville’s 11-game win streak and put an end to the first undefeated season in program history.
“It’s incredible. I mean, 11-0, that’s great,” said S. Gomez about the 2019 season. “This team, no one ever thought we would do that. No one thought we would win. No one thought we’d be 11-0. We put in the work and did everything to do what we did.”
The game was also the end to the first undefeated season in C. Soza’s 35-year coaching career.
“Well, 35 years and I never went 10-0, so that’s a big accomplishment in itself,” the coach said. “I’m proud of the kids and the way they accepted us. The things we did this year, they’ve accomplished a lot.”
The coach spent an extended period of time on the field after the final seconds ticked off, first addressing the team as a whole.
“No matter what I say today, it’s not going to take away from the hurt tonight. But, as a coaching staff and a community, we’re very proud of our boys and what they accomplished,” he said about the message he delivered during that meeting.
He then shared embraces with nearly every one of the team’s 23 seniors.
“This senior class is a strong class. They played hard all year long and I’m proud of them,” he said. “Even though I’ve only known them a few months, it feels like I’ve known them all their lives. They are great kids. They are going to be great young men one day.
“I’m just real proud to be a part of that and be able to say that I was their head coach this year.”
Those 23 guys, according to S. Gomez, were more than just classmates.
“It’s very hard. Very, very hard,” he said about saying goodbye to that group. “We all had a bond. We were all in it together. We were all in this as one. I don’t know when I’m ever going to forget this.”
Matthew Gomez had one word to describe what his senior brothers meant to him: everything.
“They mean everything. I grew up with these guys since I was 7 years old, 8 years old. I played football with every single one of them. They mean everything to me. I’d do anything for them.”