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Annual all-star game features special moments

By Hayden Henry
June 11, 2016 at 11:23 p.m.

Pine Tree's Daniel Bonamy looks to make a pass during the Norteast Texas Fellowship of Christian Athletes Heart of a Champion All-Star Football Game, on Saturday June 11, 2016, at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

TYLER — Moments make the FCA Heart of a Champion weekend.

Moments like before Saturday's football all-star game when both teams and fans stood in remembrance of Harmony's Bailee Russell. Moments like a game-winning field goal with two seconds left on the clock. Moments like after the scoreboard went blank and the field was full of family and fans celebrating together.

"Being able to come together, to bond together, it's been great," Spring Hill's Kolby Tulpa said. "It's fellowship. You come in and you don't know many people but you get to know them and you bond."

Lindale's Jordan Lawless connected on a last-second field goal Saturday night to lift the Red squad to a 34-31 win over the Blue in front of an estimated crowd of 3,000 at Rose Stadium.

"The way I look at the football game is that it's the icing on the cake," Northeast Texas FCA director Robert Bardin said. "They were giving everything they had.

"That's what we're called to do. We're called to compete in life and they showed that."

Compete is what the teams did, wearing a "BR" on their helmet in remembrance of Russell, throughout Saturday night's affair.

But once the final buzzer sounded, teammates, some split up on to both teams, came together with friends and family to celebrate.

"It meant a lot to put on this green and white helmet one more time," Zach Gipson, one of 14 Longview Lobos suited up, said. "It was pretty special to me to join my brothers one last time together on the field."

But before the fellowship came football and the contest delivered

A blistering start for both offenses transitioned to a defensive struggle in a highlight-field and competitive contest.

For the Red team, Longview's Michael Ross and Hallsville's Roger McCuller exchanged snaps at quarterback with both combining for 300-plus yards of passing.

Opposite of them, Alto's Keenan Johnson, a Tulsa signee and the 2016 Offensive Player of the Game, combined for 175 yards on the ground with three touchdowns.

The defense had a big hand as well with Canton's Brazos Askew, who garnered Defensive Player of the Game honors, Waskom's Mike Reason and Longview's Keenan Madden all playing big roles.

With the Red team getting the ball to start, Tatum's Denarius Earl ripped off a 55-yard run, setting up, one play later, a 34-yard touchdown from McCuller to Overton's Kam Hawkins on the third play of the night.

Pine Tree's Daniel Bonomy responded quickly, slipping a tackle for a 11-yard strike before connecting with Tyler Lee's Isjuwan Barker on a 71-yard bomb with 10:18 showing in the first quarter for a 7-7 tie.

Johnson made his debut for the Blue squad a big one, rumbling for a 63-yard score for a 14-7 Blue lead, which was cut to 14-10 on a 31-yard field goal from Lawless with three seconds left in the opening quarter.

To start the second quarter, the momentum transitioned to the defensive side of the ball with Kilgore's Chris Toombs, Alba-Golden's Logan Culp and Caddo Mills' Cole Cleveland all recovering fumbles while Haskew pulled down an interception.

Earl had another 20-plus yard run for the Red, setting up a four-yard score from McCuller to make it 17-14 red.

Johnson had another run in him as well, a 57-yard blast to give the Blue team a 21-17 lead at halftime.

After back-to-back punts both ways to start the third, Van's Jozef Ruiz connected on a 39-yard field goal for the lone points of the third quarter to extend the Blue's lead to 24-17.

In the waning moments of the third, Ross connected on a 51-yard strike to Earl and, two plays later, Sabine's Dain Duncan rumbled off back-to-back tough runs of five and seven yards, the second ending in paydirt for a 24-24 tie with 11:28 showing.

On second down on the ensuing possession, Bonamy connected with Marshall's Trel Patton for 47 yards with Longview's Bryson Davis saving the touchdown with a tackle at the 12.

Three plays later, the Blue team seized its last lead of the night on Johnson's third score of the night for a 31-24 lead with 8:11 left.

The Blue team forced a quick three-and-out and the offense went to work on a long drive.

It ended when Madden delivered a bone-crunching hit to force a fumble, which was scooped up by John Tyler's Cordarion Johnson.

Ross had completions of 42 and 33 yards and Athens' Logan Fuller knotted it once again, 31-31, with 4:01 left on a one-yard jaunt.

Driving for the win, the Longview duo of Ameron Dean and Madden delivered a stop behind the line before Askew, on 4th and 3rd, capped his night with a tackle for loss to force a turnover on downs.

Lindale's Ryan Taylor had hard runs of six and five yards, setting up Lawless' 47-yard attempt with two seconds left that split the uprights, setting up a celebration at midfield.

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