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Tompkins concludes memorable football season

December 3, 2018

La’Ravien Elia wanted it more.

Tompkins sprinted to a 21-point lead Saturday night at NRG Stadium, but the senior quarterback rallied Beaumont West Brook with unshakable poise and undeniable elusiveness on two long touchdown runs, and the Bruins prevailed 49-45 in a thrilling Class 6A Division II Region III semifinal matchup.

“Maybe I’m the worst pregame speech guy ever,” West Brook coach Eric Peevey said. “So we’ve got to figure out what to do in the first quarter, but our kids never flinched once we started getting the offense going, and once La’Ravien started doing what La’Ravien does. Our kids believe.”

West Brook (11-2), in the fourth round for the first time since 1997, will face Cypress Creek (8-5), which made its first regional final, at 2 p.m. next Saturday at NRG Stadium for the regional championship.

Tompkins, 0-9 a year ago, ended its breakout season at 10-3.

The Falcons led throughout the first three quarters, but the fourth featured five lead changes in a dramatic conclusion.

Elia’s 51-yard run gave the Bruins their first lead, 35-31, with 11:48 remaining.

Running back Robert McGrue’s 50-yard touchdown burst with two minutes left proved to be the decisive blow. Tompkins reached West Brook’s 15 on its final drive but couldn’t reach the end zone.

Both players were unstoppable in the second half.

Elia finished with 114 yards passing, and 162 yards and two touchdowns (51, 59 yards) on 11 carries. McGrue amassed 248 yards and four TDs on 18 totes.

Running back R.J. Smith led Tompkins with an inspired effort he’ll feel for a while.

The junior carried an eye-popping 44 times for 288 yards and three touchdowns, including a 10-yard score that gave the Falcons a 45-42 lead with 3:04 left only to have the Bruins answered 1:04 later.

“He’s a warrior,” Tompkins coach Todd McVey said of Smith.

McVey couldn’t have scripted a better start.

The Bruins went three-and-out on their opening series after a big third-down sack by defensive end Branden Jackson, and then the Falcons powered down the field behind Smith, who carried the ball on all six plays en route to his 5-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead less than five minutes in.

And Smith was only warming up.

After West Brook punted again, Smith carried twice on the next series — 2 yards, then a 38-yard touchdown run in which he leaped over Jarek Brooks’ attempted tackle for a 14-0 advantage at the 6:06 mark.

Smith touched the ball the first eight plays, rushing for 103 yards and two TDs.

The Falcons built their lead to 21-0 on quarterback Jalen Milroe’s 39-yard run, giving them TDs on their first three series.

But the high-scoring Bruins, averaging 46.3 points per game, didn’t back down.

McGrue took over on the next series, providing three first downs and a 33-yard scoring run.

Tompkins added a 39-yard field goal by Jacinto Esteban for a 24-7 edge, then the Bruins dominated the rest of the second quarter, scoring twice more while thwarting Tompkins, including defensive lineman Jared Lane’s interception of a Milroe pass when the Falcons were driving.

Running back Ja’Kobi Holland’s 3-yard touchdown run made it 24-14, and Elia’s incredible 59-yard scoring scramble, featuring multiple broken tackles and an expertly directed wide receiver block as the senior crisscrossed the field, trimmed Tompkins’ advantage to 24-21 at halftime.

West Brook finished with 558 total yards and 20 first downs. Tompkins generated 482 yards and 26 first downs, with Milroe throwing for 133 yards and one TD, and rushing for 46 yards and another score.

“I’m numb right now,” McVey said. “I knew that their quarterback (Elia) was good, and he’s all he was advertised, but our kids played their hearts out. They’re exhausted. They left it all on the field, and that’s all I could ask of them.

“From 0-9 to where we went to, and the work that these guys put in, especially my seniors, I couldn’t be more proud of the whole team.”

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