Mason County News
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Mason's Championship Run
Knockout Punch
Reprinted by Permission
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 • Posted December 21, 2011

ARLINGTON - The Mason Punchers finished off their remarkable season with their first state title in a 62-40 shootout win Thursday over Stamford in the Class 1A, Division I state title game at Cowboys Stadium.Led by senior running back David Mora, who had 41 carries for 258 yards and five touchdowns, the Punchers scored on their first five possessions to race to a 35-13 lead.Stamford rallied to within 35-26 late in the third quarter, but the game turned in Mason’s favor for good after a Winston Trip interception set up Mora for a 7-yard touchdown run on the second play of the fourth quarter to put Mason on top 42-26.On Stamford’s next drive, Mason’s star defensive back Chance Stockbridge delivered the knockout punch.Stockbridge intercepted his 13th pass of the year and returned it 46 yards down the sideline for a touchdown to all but clinch the championship for the Punchers.Mason added two more scores to take a 62-26 lead before Stamford scored twice late.Stamford’s 40 points were more than Mason’s first-team defense had allowed all season (32).But the Punchers forced four turnovers - three in the second half - to stop Stamford when it mattered the most.Mason finished the year 15-0, while Stamford’s season ended at 13-3. Mason, known as the tennis capital of Texas with 74 state titles in the sport, now has its first football title after head coach Kade Burns ran the table in his first year leading the Punchers.Mora, who earned Offensive MVP honors, shook off credit for his big-time performance similar to the way he shook off would-be tacklers.“Me getting the ball involves all of us,” Mora said. “The linemen did a great job blocking for me. Rio (Schmidt) the fullback, I don’t think he gets enough credit, but he did an amazing job.”Stockbridge was named the Defensive MVP. In addition to his interception return for a touchdown, he also had nine tackles and even threw a touchdown pass on a reverse late in the second quarter to give Mason a 28-13 halftime lead.As usual, it was Mora who claimed much of the spotlight, but Burns said it was a team effort that brought home the title.Mason’s vaunted offensive line paved the way for 531 yards of offense, 446 of which came on the ground, while the defense managed to keep Stamford’s explosive offense from matching the Punchers.“I’m proud of them,” Burns said. “And I’m proud of the way they played, not just this game but throughout the season.”Schmidt, in addition to being Mora’s lead blocker, ran for 112 yards and a touchdown, and connected on 8-of-9 extra points.Quarterback Austin Trip rushed for 71 yards and a score on seven carries and snagged one of Mason’s three interceptions. His twin brother, Winston Trip, also had an interception off Stamford’s standout quarterback Hagen Hutchinson.Mora handled the lion’s share of the touches, but it was the big plays that didn’t involve Mora that helped the Punchers build their 28-13 halftime lead.After feeding Mora on five straight carries to open Mason’s initial drive, Austin Trip faked the handoff, then rolled around the right side of the field on a bootleg to pick up 32 yards and take the ball inside Stamford’s 15-yard line. Mora then capped off the series with his first score for a 7-0 Punchers lead.The Bulldogs responded 40 seconds later, as Hutchinson hit Jessie Ramos for a quick strike that turned into a 61-yard touchdown pass.Mason then went on a 13-play, 65-yard scoring drive that lasted almost seven minutes before Austin Trip took it in from the 1-yard line to put the Punchers back on top 14-7. Mason never relinquished the lead after that.On Stamford’s ensuing drive, Austin Trip killed an eight-play Stamford drive, leaping in front of Ramos at the Mason 6-yard line and picking off his second pass in as many weeks.Moments later, he threw a perfect pass on third-and-14 that hit Stockbridge in stride for 48 yards. Mora finished the drive with a 2-yard TD run.Mora added another to cap off Mason’s opening drive of the second half and two more during the Punchers’ fourth-quarter assault before leaving the game midway through with an ankle injury.A torn jersey and a pronounced limp after the game showed the toll the workload had taken on Mora, but it was exactly as he wanted it.“I’m kind of used to it,” Mora said. “I try not to think about it and just keep running to the best of my potential. I train to get the ball 50 times a game, and I knew at some point this season coach was going to call on me to do that. I was just ready for it.”Mora is one of 17 Mason seniors who played their final game for the Punchers on the biggest stage in Texas, and they’ll return home with the biggest prize.Attendance - 10,143.

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