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Incredible! Regents wins state on 69-yard interception on game's final play

Rick Cantu
Austin American-Statesman
Regents senior Ben Buerkle, center, celebrates the state championship with teammates Charles Benson (44) and Isaac Lipton after his interception return for the winning touchdown on the final play.

HEWITT — On the game's final play, Regents linebacker Ben Buerkle had the football tucked under his right arm and a state championship in his eyes.

Regents and Dallas Christian were deadlocked 20-20 and appeared ready to take the TAPPS Division II state title game into overtime. That's when Buerkle took matters into his own hands and provided a finish the Knights will never forget.

With 15 seconds left in regulation, Buerkle intercepted a pass from Dallas Christian quarterback T.J, King and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown to give Regents a 26-20 victory Saturday afternoon at Panther Stadium.

It was Regents' sixth state championshipl.

King, who had played a marvelous game for the Chargers, overthrew his intended target, Gabriel Grubbs. Buerkle, trailing on the play, picked off the errant throw and sprinted down the right sideline. He pivoted to the left to avoid a tackler at the 20 and glided into the end zone.

The clock read 00:00 when Buerkle crossed the goal line.

"As a defensive player, we're always taught to think about scoring whenever we pick off a pass," Buerkle said. "I'm still in shock."

Regents senior Ben Buerkle was the hero of Saturday's state championship game with his last-second pick six.

Ecstatic Regents players gang-tackled the game's hero in the end zone, and a dog pile ensued. Players were screaming and hugging each other. A few players shed tears of joy. This was the kind of finish that might inspire a Disney movie.

The victory made a prophet of first-year Knights coach Tim Phillips.

"I was pretty confident about this game all week," Phillips said just moments after his players dumped a bucket of cold water over his head. "Earlier today I said we were going to win on the final play of the game, although I didn't think it would be like this."

Regents (10-0) was led on offense by junior quarterback Drew Dickey, who passed for 92 yards and rushed for a team-high 66 yards and a touchdown.

Regents, though, won this game with defense. Buerkle's pick was obviously the game's biggest play, but there were others. Knight sophomore Whitefield Powell blocked a Charger punt and teammate Luke Walker ran 30 yards for a touchdown.

Regents also rose to the occasion when Dallas Christian faced a fourth-and-2 late in the fourth quarter. King ran around right end but was met by Knight linebacker Jakob Morrison at the line of scrimmage.

Among the Knights who made big plays on defense were defensive end John Rampick, defensive tackle Shepherd Dollohon and safety William Raeder,

First-year Regents coach Tim Phillips celebrates with Knight senior Bryce Mountain after a 26-20 victory over Dallas Christian in the TAPPS Division II state championship game.

"The defense played a great game from start to finish," Phillips said.

Dallas Christian's offense had averaged 52 points a game before meeting Regents.

Dickey said he was prepared to "strap my helmet" and get set for overtime when Buerkle saved the day. He was screaming on the sideline while his teammate was running for the end zone.

"It was surreal, and there's no other way to describe it," Dickey said. "It hasn't even set in yet. In my head, I was feeling pure joy and excitement. The way that it happened, it just shows our perseverance and we're never going to quit until the last play. We're going to make plays and shock people."

It's a safe bet Dickey's 54 teammates and coaches feel the same way.