DENTON — After Celina used a stunning fourth-quarter rally to force overtime, Gainesville overcame the momentum going against them by outlasting the Bobcats, 55-49, in double overtime a Class 3A Division I Region II bi-district game at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex on Friday night.

DENTON — After Celina used a stunning fourth-quarter rally to force overtime, Gainesville overcame the momentum going against them by outlasting the Bobcats, 55-49, in double overtime a Class 3A Division I Region II bi-district game at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex on Friday night.


Adam Berryman scored in the first overtime and Jonathan Mendez had the game-winner to lift Gainesville (10-0) to the area round, where the Leopards will face Bonham at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Little Elm.


"That was a huge win," Gainesville head coach Keith Hall said. "We ran the table and everybody kept saying we have a weak schedule. That kind of put Gainesville back where Gainesville was in ’03, ’04 and ’05."


It was new territory for the Bobcats (9-2), who hadn’t lost in the first round of the playoffs since 1990, when a tie game resulted in Howe being declared bi-district champions because of an 11-10 edge on first downs.


"I just told them how proud I was of them that they never gave up and kept on fighting," Celina head coach Bill Elliott said. "They’ve got to carry it with them in life that no matter what goes on, you stay with it."


Berryman had 32 carries for 201 yards, including every yard of the first overtime.


"[The coaches were telling us] don’t lose your focus because it could all be over in the snap of a finger," Berryman said. "Everybody was kinda shook up. It was overtime and we all wanted to win. He called my name, so it was my job to get it into the end zone."


Celina trailed 42-28 with nine minutes remaining, but a steady dose of running back Deshawn Davis, who scored three touchdowns while running 15 times for 127 yards, and a 73-yard kickoff return for a score by Micah Nelson helped the Bobcats chip away at the lead.


Davis’ two-yard touchdown run with two minutes left, followed by a catch on a two-point conversion, forced overtime. However, the Gainesville defense found a way to corral a hobbled Davis in the second overtime to keep Celina off the board, setting up the winning touchdown by Berryman.


"That kick-off return was huge [for Celina]," Hall said. "There were so many big plays tonight with the overtime. . .The kids just kept fighting and fighting."


The Bobcats were in control through most of the first half, but a pitch that bounced off Davis’ chest was recovered by the Leopards at their own 36, providing the opening Gainesville needed to make a run.


Celina’s defense had quarterback Mason Copeland wrapped up for a loss, but Copeland shook free and followed downfield blocking for a 47-yard run. Berryman then capped the two-play, 64-yard drive with a 17-yard touchdown to even the score at seven.


Gainesville added 10 more points before Celina was able to recover.


"We have three freshmen playing out there and five sophomores," Elliott said. "That’s what a lot of people outside don’t understand — the age thing. We’re young and when you’re trying to tackle guys out there like that out there with a little 130 pound [defensive back]. That’s tough."


The Bobcats appeared poised to regain momentum when quarterback Nathan Elliott squeezed his way through for a 13-yard touchdown with only 38 seconds left in the half. Celina was slated to receive the ball to start the second half, which opened the door to potentially take the lead had Gainesville not gone 53 yards on two plays 19 seconds later.


Mendez, who scored four touchdowns, went around left end on a reverse for a 44-yard touchdown to kill any momentum that had been gained.


"That’s what we talked about at halftime," Elliott said. "You can’t make mistakes like that against a good team. Mistakes eventually cost us the game."