For reasons unknown, Wimberley Texan defensive back Trent Dingman never imagined himself making a critical play when his team needed one.
A well-timed interception returned for a game-ending touchdown Friday changed that perspective.
Even so, Dingman quietly reveled in his newfound fame with teammates after helping Wimberley not only defeat the Cuero Gobblers 44-36, but also secure the program’s first state semifinal berth in six seasons.
For head coach Doug Warren, Dingman’s play solidified the ability to execute when the time comes.
“In pregame, we challenged the kids that in games like this, you become a legend. We asked who was going to make that play that the Wimberley Texans would talk about for years and years,” Warren said. “They’ll talk about Trent Dingman and how he made that interception against Cuero and ran it in for a touchdown at the end of the game. They’ll talk about that for a long time.”
Warren lauded his Texan’s ability to rally for 20 unanswered points in the final nine minutes of the game to win.
“We just hung in there and never doubted that we were going to get this done,” Warren said. “We never ever doubted. The kids hung in there and found a way to win.”
Central to Wimberley’s comeback was a Texan Code Red defense that shut down Cuero’s high-powered offense.
Warren said one factor was wrapping up and tackling Gobbler running back Jared Love, who finished the game with 151 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Wimberley’s defensive backfield also put a halt to Cuero’s pass game, which was led by quarterback Drew Riemenschneider, who went 15 of 24 for 224 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
“We settled down and played good defense, tackled better and got him (Love) on the ground,” Warren said.
Wimberley took a 14-6 lead into the second frame before Cuero rushed back into contention. Cuero outscored Wimberley 11-3 in the second quarter to take a 19-17 halftime advantage. Cuero maintained momentum and tallied ten unanswered points to kick start the third quarter.
Wimberley responded with a third quarter touchdown run from running back Thomas Carruthers, but Cuero expanded its lead to 36-24 with 9:26 left in the contest.
Enter a Texan offense that reeled off two touchdowns in the span of five minutes. A 40-yard touchdown pass from quarterback JoJo Weeks to wide receiver Gavin Martinez gave Wimberley a slim 37-36 lead late in the contest.
Weeks, who went 20 of 22 for 336 yards and two touchdowns, said he never lost faith or had any doubts that his team could pull off the comeback.
“This is by far the best game we played,” Weeks said. “It’s incredible to get past the third round, especially when we’re getting to the fifth round, it’s crazy for us and we love it.”
Dingman put the game on ice several minutes later by securing a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“It just happened,” Dingman said. “By the grace of God, it just happened.”
Wimberley now prepares for a West Orange Stark team that is looking for its third straight Class 4A, Division II state championship.
While Warren said West Orange Stark is “pretty dang good,” he also envisions his team will be ready, no matter the opponent.
“They don’t care who’s up next,” Warren said. “They’re going to get after it.”