Brown, defense leads Paetow to first ever state semifinal berth

By Tyler Tyre, Sports Editor
Posted 12/4/21

“It feels amazing, to be able to do what I did tonight for my brothers and my family around me and for everyone that’s sacrificed all year and supported me when I was hurt, it was amazing,” Brown said. “It just feels so good to be able to do this with my teammates.”

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Brown, defense leads Paetow to first ever state semifinal berth

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Jacob Brown is still working his way back to full health.

Soft tissue injuries to his knee threatened to end his senior season, but the running back went to work rehabbing and made it back to play for Paetow in the playoffs.

Brown’s workload has continued to grow and he has gotten better every week he has played. That showed head Paetow coach BJ Gotte what he needed to give Brown the full workload at running back heading into Friday’s Class 5A, Division I Region III Final against Fort Bend Hightower.

“I’m just proud of him, I’m proud of his effort and I’m proud of his ability to come back,” Gotte said. “When he was injured and he got the news that there was a potential that he may not play again this, it was a pretty bad deal. But he put his head down, went to work, rehabbed and really committed to being his best self. To see him come back and have this success is just really cool.”

Brown says he only feels about 85% healthy, but even at 85% the running back responded to his teams need. Brown dominated Hightower, rushing for 346 yards and a school record breaking five touchdowns to lead Paetow to a 35-12 win at Rice Stadium.

It was a huge performance for the senior, who accounted for all but 23 yards of Paetow’s offense as the team continues to push further than they ever have been before.

“It feels amazing, to be able to do what I did tonight for my brothers and my family around me and for everyone that’s sacrificed all year and supported me when I was hurt, it was amazing,” Brown said. “It just feels so good to be able to do this with my teammates.”

It was a defensive battle early on, as Paetow and Hightower traded punts and jockeyed for field position.

That changed late in the first quarter, as Brown took a handoff and shrugged off tacklers before breaking free for a 75-yard run for his first touchdown of the night.

But Brown was just getting started at that point.

Hightower and Paetow threw interceptions on back to back plays early in the second quarter, but Brown steadied the Panthers ship, breaking off another run of over 70 yards for a touchdown, and Brown tacked on a third score from 17-yards out shortly before halftime.

But it wasn’t just Brown making a difference for the Panthers. The teams defense was flying around like it has done all season. In the first half, Paetow held Hightower to -11 yards rushing and 35 total yards and Hightower ended the game with just 249 total yards.

“Really we just had to contain them, that was the biggest thing,” said senior cornerback K.J. Truehill. “We followed the same formula we did the first time we played them and shut them down. The defensive line was getting after it, the linebackers were getting after it and it really helped us out and on the back end we got after it too.”

Brown ran in two more touchdowns in the third quarter on runs of nine and 27 yards sandwiched around two scores from Hightower. But the Panthers defense adjusted from there and didn’t allow a score in the fourth quarter.

“We got caught on a couple of trick plays and we knew we had to adjust,” Truehill said. “We knew they’d try new stuff and they came out in a diamond formation they were trying. It was just about adjusting to that stuff and then once we did playing how we normally play.”

It was the second time the two teams faced off this year and Paetow knew that Hightower wanted revenge and came prepared.

“It’s extremely tough to beat a team twice,” Gotte said. “Coach (Cornelius) Anthony does a tremendous job with those guys and they were prepared. They had a good plan and I’m proud of our kids for responding to the challenge. Hats off to them, they’ve have a great year and he’s done a good job, I’m just really proud of the way our kids responded.”

Paetow advances to the state semifinals, where they will take on Flour Bluff, which comes off a 13-7 win over Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial in its regional final.

It’s the first time either school has made it to the state semifinals. The two will play at 7 p.m. Friday at Heroes Stadium in San Antonio.

“We’ve known this team is special since the first game,” Brown said. “I could tell the difference since the first game in the way we rallied behind each other to win. The way our teamwork is and the way we leaned on each other through the mistakes and the progress we made on good plays. From that first game I knew it and I could tell we were special.”

Paetow 35, Fort Bend Hightower 12

Hightower

0

0

12

0  

 --

 24 

Paetow

7

14

14 

0

 --

 41 

First quarter

Paetow: Jacob Brown 75 run (Anthony Fuentes kick) 2:25

Second quarter

Paetow: Brown 73 run (Fuentes kick) 8:54

Paetow: Brown 17 run (Fuentes kick) 0:32

Third quarter

Hightower: Kendron Penson Jr. 55 pass to Jeremy Payne (pass failed) 10:55

Paetow: Brown 9 run (Fuentes kick) 7:59

Hightower: Penson 66 pass to Kaleb Johnson (pass failed) 6:53

Paetow: Brown 27 run (Fuentes kick) 2:34

Team stats

Hightower

 Paetow

  First downs

 12

 17

  Yards rushing

 27-24

 37-369

  Yards passing

 249

 30

  Passes

 14-34-2-1

 3-14-0-3

  Punts

  4-30

 4-40

  Fumbles-lost

  0-0

 3-1

  Penalty-yards

  0-0

 0-0

Individual Statistics

Rushing – Paetow: Jacob Brown: 30-346-5; C.J. Dumas, 3-9; Kole Wilson, 1-6; Hightower: Jeremy Payne, 17-45; Kendron Penson Jr., 10-(-21)

Passing – Paetow: CJ Dumas 3-14-30-0-3; Hightower: Kendron Penson Jr., 13-33-230-2-1; Jaden Adams, 1-1-19-0-0

Receiving – Paetow: Kole Wilson, 2-14; Cason Blue, 1-16; Hightower: Kaleb Johnson, 4-89-1; Jeremy Payne, 3-81-1; Caleb Douglas, 4-56; Zion Kearney, 3-23

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