Nov. 5—KRUM — Gainesville rode a greedy defense to clinch its first playoff spot in three years Friday night.
The Gainesville football team defeated Krum 41-31 at Bobcat Stadium on the back of five forced turnovers.
Gainesville (4-6 overall, 4-2 District 5-4A Division II) finished third in the district with the win, sending the Leopards to the postseason in their first year under coach Neil Searcy.
Krum (3-7, 2-4) finishes fifth and will miss the postseason.
Searcy said it means a lot to take his old high school to the playoffs.
"These kids have worked their tails off and done everything that we asked them to do since we got here in May," Searcy said. "It feels so good to see the excitement on their face and see how excited they are right now in our first year here together."
Gainesville's defense recovered three fumbles and intercepted two passes. The first takeaway set up Gainesville to take a 7-3 lead in the first quarter. An interception by Alexis Huerta in the second quarter set up another Leopards score.
Searcy said the Leopards forced the turnovers by playing hard and aggressive.
"Whenever you do that, you create those kind of turnovers," Searcy said. "Those are some hustle turnovers, and those kids played their butts off. That's what happens whenever you do that."
The Leopards dominated the first half, building a commanding 27-3 lead. Junior quarterback Cade Searcy threw four touchdown passes in the half, including two to junior Jesse Luna.
Leading 7-3, Gainesville opened the second quarter by stuffing the Bobcats on fourth and goal from the 1-yard line. Two plays later, Searcy threw downfield to Luna. The Gainesville receiver made a great contested catch then sprinted away from the defense for a 98-yard touchdown.
Luna said he hadn't run like that before.
"(Cade Searcy) looked at me, he said, 'Let's throw it up, give it a shot," Luna said. "He threw it up there, caught it, made a play."
Krum, with its season on the line, came out hot to begin the second half, but Gainesville's big lead proved too much to overcome. The Bobcats scored their first touchdown 58 seconds into the third quarter when Devrin Brown ran it in form the 8-yard line.
The Leopards answered with back-to-back scores. Haley caught his second touchdown pass of the game. Krum fumbled on its next drive, leading to Gainesville's lone rushing score of the game as Searcy broke several tackles on a 40-yard run, making it 41-11.
The Bobcats scored 20-straight points to end the game, but the Leopards recovered every onside kick and were ultimately able to run out the clock.
Luna said knowing he will get to play in the postseason feels incredible.
"My first time ever in my life going to the playoffs," Luna said. "It's a great feeling. I enjoy it."
Gainesville will face Sunnyvale in the bi-district round of the playoffs at a time and date to be determined. Gainesville joins Aubrey, Van Alstyne and Sanger in the playoffs from this district.