- Greg Wille
BREAKING THROUGH: Mraz makes five TD catches as Academy routs Troy for district's final playoff spot
LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY – With Academy needing a win against Troy to advance to the Class 3A Division I state playoffs, senior Kollin Mraz and the Bumblebees came up big in Friday night's regular-season finale at John Glover Stadium.
Academy played without star wide receiver Jaylin McWilliams, but fellow senior Mraz made five touchdown receptions in the first half – four from senior quarterback Jerry Cephus and one from freshman running back Zane Clark – as the Bees raced to a 42-7 halftime advantage on their way to a decisive 42-21 win over the turnover-prone Trojans.
In head coach Chris Lancaster's first year at Academy after six seasons as Troy's offensive coordinator, the Bees finished the regular season 7-3 overall and 3-3 in District 11-3A Division I, tied for fourth place with Troy (5-5, 3-3). Academy avenged its 24-0 loss last year to Troy.
Academy earned the district's fourth and final playoff berth because of its head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over head coach Ronnie Porter's Trojans. Troy missed out on postseason play after going 12-2 in 2019 and reaching the 3A D-I Region III title game before losing to eventual state champion Grandview.
In the playoffs for the second time in three years, Academy will battle Hallettsville (8-2) in a bi-district playoff game at 2 p.m. next Saturday at Bastrop Memorial Stadium in Cedar Creek. The Brahmas are powered by senior running back Jonathon Brooks, a Texas commitment.
Mraz caught touchdown passes of 5, 31, 9 and 33 yards from Cephus plus a 22-yard scoring toss from Clark. Mraz came in with two TD catches this season, having played multiple district games at quarterback while Cephus was sidelined by an injury.
Bees junior linebacker Darion Franklin returned a fumble 27 yards for another TD. That was one of three lost fumbles by Troy, which also threw an interception. Academy did not commit a turnover.
Troy all-state senior running back Zach Hrbacek came in with 2,201 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns in eight games this season, but he dealt with a shoulder injury against Academy and was limited to 64 yards with a 1-yard TD on 14 first-half carries – losing two fumbles – before sitting out in the second half.
Hrbacek, a Sam Houston State commitment, finished the season with 2,265 rushing yards and 37 total touchdowns, and he rushed for 7,624 yards in a brilliant four-year career that featured three consecutive 2,000-yard seasons.
Troy's Hunter Martin and Xavier Hernandez had 9-yard touchdown runs in the second half.
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