WARR ACRES — With a humble grin, Tonkawa senior Dustin Lindsey hardly wanted to take credit for the first of his two interceptions Saturday afternoon.
A slightly deflected pass hit Lindsey in the hands down around his knees.
But the second pick was all Lindsey. He read the play, broke on the throw and took it 54 yards for what turned out to be the winning touchdown in the Buccaneers' 24-22 win over Hennessey in the Class A semifinals at Putnam City Stadium.
"He stares down his receiver a lot of times," Lindsey said of Hennessey quarterback Matt Luetjen, who the Bucs intercepted three times Saturday. "I just took advantage of it.
"I caught it and just kept thinking 'please don't catch me.' I just wanted to get the pick-six and finish the game."
With a 24-7 lead in the fourth quarter, it seemed that the pick was going to finish off the Eagles, but they rallied with a pair of touchdowns, the last coming with 33 seconds remaining.
Still, Tonkawa was able to recover both onside kicks Hennessey attempted to advance to the state championship game for the first time since winning it all in 2005.
Bucs running back Jake Love rushed for 187 yards and two touchdowns against a defense that had been giving up fewer than 60 rushing yards per game.
"I had confidence in my line. I always do," said Love, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior who also completed a pass to set up a touchdown. "We run probably more than anyone in the state. That's what we do."
Tonkawa took full advantage of its defensive takeaways. The Bucs' three interceptions and one fumble recovery produced two touchdowns and a field goal. And Tonkawa limited the Eagles' rushing attack to 144 yards on 34 carries, forcing Luetjen to throw more than usual.
"Our defense isn't any slouch," Tonkawa coach Mike Kirtley said. "We heard a lot about Hennessey's defense, and it was a great one, but our defense has been pretty solid all year."
Next week, Tonkawa will play for its sixth state title, having won it in 1952, 1953, 1999, 2000 and 2005.
"We've been waiting for a long time for this," Lindsey said. "The seniors, we've been wanting this forever. A lot of us had brothers on the 2000 state championship team and the 2005 team.
"It's been a dream of ours to win that gold ball."