ROYSE CITY — Justin Bennett threw three touchdown passes and Solomon Titus ran for 190 yards and a touchdown as Leonard defeated Cooper, 28-20, in the Class 2A Division II Region II final at Royse City on Monday afternoon.

ROYSE CITY — Justin Bennett threw three touchdown passes and Solomon Titus ran for 190 yards and a touchdown as Leonard defeated Cooper, 28-20, in the Class 2A Division II Region II final at Royse City on Monday afternoon.


Leonard (11-3) will face Cisco in the state semifinals on Saturday. It is the first state semifinal appearance for the Tigers, who stifled Cooper (13-1) early and managed to hang on by scoring a touchdown in the final minute and forcing a turnover on downs as the Bulldogs were trying to force overtime.


The game was originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Wylie before an ice storm not only pushed the game back three days but forced a change in venue. The last time Leonard played on a Monday was its 1931 season-opener against Denison’s B team.


It turned out to be worth the wait.


After Cooper scored twice in the third quarter to cut the deficit to one, Leonard came up with a turnover when Garrett Wismer recovered a fumble in Bulldog territory with 6:34 left in the game. The Tigers burned nearly four minutes off the clock before Bennett had a nine-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Nixon that forced Cooper to score and get a conversion to extend the game.


The Bulldogs opened the third quarter with a TD drive capped by Jordan Sillivan’s 33-yard run and then Colby Early had a 74-yard touchdown run as the quarter expired. Leonard stuffed Grant Sepulveda on the conversion to maintain the lead.


Cooper’s final drive reached the Leonard 28 but a last gasp attempt to the end zone was well short as time expired and the Tigers rushed the field in celebration.


Leonard jumped right to the lead when it took the opening possession 58 yards in six plays and Bennett connected with Dylan Monck for an 11-yard touchdown pass. The play started like the previous one that gained 12 yards when Bennett who was 12-of-19 passing for 119 yards, faked the handoff to Titus going to the right and then spun completely around to find Monck in the left flat with a defender in his face.


Cooper would have tied the game on its first series but a holding penalty called back a 63-yard TD run by Jeremy Mims and the drive stalled.


Titus broke free for a 37-yard run to the Cooper 17 and scored four plays later on a one-yard run to give the Tigers a 14-0 advantage less than two minutes into the second quarter. Ty McKinney came up with a nine-yard catch to make it first and goal just short of the end zone.


The Bulldogs were struggling on offense and didn’t gain their initial first down until 9:23 left in the half. Cooper was able to take advantage of Leonard’s second turnover of the half, recovering a fumble at the Tiger 35 and turning it into a fluky touchdown.


A facemask penalty back the Bulldogs up on a second and short play and Cooper faced fourth-and-19 at the Leonard 31. Darmarcus Robinson, who was held to 64 yards on 16 carries, took a toss to the right and then threw back deep left. Jon Rosenbaum got his hands on it at the goal line but tipped it up in the air and Austin Blakely snagged it for the touchdown with 2:29 left in the half.


The Bulldogs missed the two-point conversion but had some momentum working as Cooper was getting the ball to start the second half. But Leonard marched the length of the field with a game-changing play of its own.


The drive started at the Cooper 44 after a penalty on the return and in seven plays the Tigers were at the one-yard-line. The problem was that it was fourth down and there were five seconds left in the half. Instead of an easy field goal attempt, Leonard went for it and Bennett hit Monck for the touchdown pass and a 21-6 lead.


A Bulldog offense that had been so effective in running up a perfect record was held to 94 yards and three first downs in the first two quarters.