5A/4A Review: Upset Week
It didn't take us long to dub the bi-district round "Upset Week" on Friday night, as the hits kept coming as the night came to a close. Here's a review of the action.
We get one of thse every year in the playoffs: Upset Week, where the underdog is a champion and the favorites are left shell-shocked.
Lake Travis. Highland Park. Alamo Heights. Brenham. All lost in games they were favored to win, and several teams that were looked at as legit state title contenders are already headed home for the holidays. By 10:15 PM Friday night, I knew this was going to be astounding recap to write. And it was.
EP El Dorado 34, Odessa Permian 33
El Dorado became the first El Paso team to beat Permian in the postseason in roughly 50 years Friday night when Permian’s game-tying PAT sprayed wide right with zeroes on the clock. Midway through the third, the game looked like it was spiraling out of hands — Permian was up, 27-17, and had the ball. But El Dorado forced a punt, got a field goal, then recovered a gutsy onside kick that QB Cade Terrazas converted into a 19-yard TD run on 3rd-and-15 with ten minutes to play. El Dorado forced another stop to set up its final drive with 3:31 left, and Dominique White rushed for the game-winner with 1:28 left. Permian QB Jack Wilkins rushed for a 5-yard touchdown with zeroes on the clock to peak the drama, but the only thing that hurt worse than the record amount of rushing yards Permian allowed (455) was the missed PAT at the bitter end.
FB Travis 37, Clear Springs 35
What a thriller we had here. It didn’t look that way early, though, as Clear Springs essentially led the game off with a Matt Guidry 66-yard touchdown run, then, following a short Travis FG, got a three-yarder out of QB Zach Cripps to build a 14-3 lead with less than ten minutes gone. Travis hung tough from there, though, keeping within arm’s reach into the fourth quarter. That’s when the Tigers threw it into overdrive — Steve Sims caught a 27-yard pass from Teagan Nehls at the 11:10 mark, Darius Bowen found the endzone from six yards out at the 9:28 mark, and, after Clear Springs took the lead one last time with three minutes remaining, Travis performed its final miracle. Facing a fourth and goal from the nine, Nehls had to heave one up to Cody Moncure. Prepare to be amazed.
Cedar Hill 35, Copperas Cove 28
One of the most hotly-anticipated games bi-district games in class 5A lived up to the billing this weekend … just not immediately. Cedar Hill, behind the efforts of speedy RB Laquvionte Gonzalez, built a 35-7 fourth quarter lead and looked to be an easy winner. But that’s when Cove started the comeback, getting a 10-yard TD run out of Vondareaz King and, after an onside kick recovery, a 3-yard score, too. Cove finally stopped Cedar Hill after that, and got a 7-yard TD pass from Robbie Seybold with 1:36 remaining to put everyone on pins and needles at 35-28. But Cedar Hill recovered an onside kick after that, which more or less ended the game. There was still a drop of drama left, though — the Longhorns opted to run the ball instead of taking a knee, and recovered their own fumble as time was running down.
Lufkin 35, Spring Dekaney 20
One of the major upsets of the week — and there was a lot of those this time out — saw the defending 5A-DII champions fall in the first round to a team that was just dying for good news these days. After a long, sometimes-frustrating regular season, Lufkin put together its best game of the season behind 207 rushing yards from Kendrick Mapp and three TD passes from Tyler Stubblefield, including a key 5-yarder to Jabryce Taylor early on that got the momentum moving in the right direction. Taylor caught another in the second quarter for a 20-7 halftime lead, and even though Dekaney strung together 13 unanswered from the late third quarter to the early fourth, Mapp iced the game on a 20-yard run with 2:44 left, his third TD of the game. Lufkin never once punted, a remarkable feat against a solid Dekaney defense.
Pflugerville 23, Lake Travis 20
This was the major upset of the week, as it dethroned the five-time reigning champs and snapped LT’s five-year playoff winning streak; it was the Cavs’ first postseason loss in 30 tries. But all the credit goes to Pflugerville, which played sensational football all night. It all came down to the final two drives — trailing 20-16 with minutes remaining, the Panthers got a key fourth-down conversion from FB Brandon Woodward, then the game-winning TD run from RB Adrian Dilworth with just 41 seconds to play. Lake Travis had one more chance to escape with a miracle victory, driving to its 49-yard line with time for one more play. In a radio call that we carried live on Fox Football Friday on Fox Sports Southwest, QB Baker Mayfield threw a 51-yard Hail Mary to Grant Foster with zeroes on the clock. Foster caught it, but came down out of bounds by maybe an inch, sealing the upset and sending the blue and yellow fans into hysteria.
La Porte 29, Pasadena Memorial 21
La Porte walked into the stadium as a significant double-digit favorite on Saturday, but walked out holding its breath after surviving a feisty effort from Memorial. The difference? Maybe La Porte LB Hoza Scott, arguably the top recruit in Texas next year, who blocked a go-ahead field goal with 4:11 left to play to protect a 22-21 lead and set up teammate Victor Holmes’ game-clinching 80-yard TD run just seconds later. Still, Memorial deserves a lot of credit — the defense was spectacular, holding La Porte to just minus-4 rushing yards in the first half and buoying the team out to an early 9-0 lead. Had Memorial’s top offensive threat, RB Reggie Turner, the top rusher in 22-5A, not left the game with a concussion early in the first, maybe things could have been different. Instead, La Porte keeps its season alive.
Smithson Valley 21, SA Reagan 14
Normally, you’d think Smithson Valley would be a runaway winner when it gets 144 yards and three rushing TDs from RB Lawrence Mattison and three interceptions in the fourth quarter alone, but the Rangers still almost found themselves in overtime with a feisty Reagan squad Friday night: the third of those three picks came with Reagan sitting at the SV 29-yard line with seconds left to play. That ended the game, but Smithson Valley could have done it the easy way moments earlier, when it missed a game-clinching field goal with 45 seconds left to play. It was just good ole’ fashioned defense that kept this one close through large stretches, though — Smithson Valley didn’t turn the ball over, but it did punt five times, and Reagan finished with four turnovers (all INTs) and rushed for just 2.47 yards per carry.
Brownsville Veterans Memorial 21, Weslaco East 18
Maybe district 31-5A was just too much after all. After a long, brutal season, the eventual champs of that “meat-grinder” district came up short against first-year Veterans Memorial, seemingly running out of gas in the second half when RB Saul Cuellar posted just 25 rushing yards in the second half after ringing up 143 in the first. Memorial trailed 11-7 at halftime, but immediately scored in the third quarter to take a lead. The defense followed it up with a key endzone interception, and the offense kept the ball rolling with its second-straight score for a 21-11 lead. East scored once more with 4:55 left to go and eventually got the ball back for a game-winning drive opportunity, but the Memorial defense forced a fourth-down stop for the win.
Frisco 21, Highland Park 20
Perhaps the second-largest upset of the night, behind only Pflugerville downing Lake Travis, Frisco upended Highland Park in a classic roller-coaster affair that set off celebrations throughout that still-growing area just north of Dallas. Frisco opened up a 14-0 lead in the first quarter behind short TD runs from Ben Cole and Jake Battaglia before Highland Park answered back with 20 straight points from the 1:05 mark of the second quarter to the 8:44 mark of the fourth, a run of defensive success that suggested Frisco might have been done for. But the PAT missed, leaving the door open for Frisco to win it with a touchdown and successful kick of its own. That’s exactly what happened — after converting two fourth downs on its desperation drive, Frisco turned a third such do-or-die moment into a game-winning 28-yard TD pass from Battaglia to Max Stetile with 1:24 left to play. The Raccoon defense got an interception as time ticked away to essentially end the game.
Angleton 48, Friendswood 41
In an exhausting back-and-forth game that showcased little in the way of defense, the biggest play of the night came on an unlikely turnover in a 41-41 ballgame, when Friendswood QB Jordan Wood fumbled on the Angleton two-yard line with less than five minutes to play. The ball bounced through the endzone for a touchback, and Angleton took over with new life. Moments later, RB Josh West snapped off an 80-yard TD run to set the final margin. Friendswood never found the endzone again. But several players in this one finished with remarkable numbers, as West’s teammate, Richard Cooper, posted 253 rushing yards and 5 TDs, including a 39-yarder that featured so many broken tackles that we called it the “Play of the Night” on Fox Football Friday. Wood, one of the most dazzling players in Texas this year, finished with a staggering 361 yards and five scores on 50 carries. He was one of the most incredible players of the season, and I’ll always be glad I got to see him play once this year.
SA Brackenridge 25, Alamo Heights 24
Yet another stunning first-round upset, Brackenridge posted its first playoff win since 1997 on the back of a sturdy defense (97 rushing yards allowed) and an exceptional offense (451 yards, no turnovers). Both came through in the clutch. After Heights’ reversed Brackenridge’s 14-10 halftime lead for a 24-16 advantage early in the fourth, the Eagles started clawing their way back — first with a 1-yard TD run from Ramon Richards (with the potential game-tying two-point conversion attempt failing), and then, after a crucial stop on defense, a game-winning 20-yard field goal from K Bry Rideb with just 11 seconds remaining. Things never really materialized for traditional power Alamo Heights this year, but all the credit today goes to Brackenridge for playing one of their better games in years.
CC Ray 36, Mission 30
Mission, sitting pretty at 9-0 just two weeks ago, finished the year on a painful two-game losing streak after this one. The key stretch came in the middle stages of the game, when, after Mission built a quick 14-0 lead, Ray went on a 28-0 run from the middle of the first to the middle of the third quarter. As usual, dual-threat QB Marcus Mosley was at the center of things, rushing for two of those touchdowns from a yard out, while getting the other two from RB Tristian Barrera (one from 50 yards out). Mission came right back with 16 points of its own to take a very late lead, but Ray got the last laugh when Mosley threw a 51-yard strike to Matthew Merino to set the final margin.
Hereford 34, Canyon Randall 31
Another game, another upset — and now Hereford, after starting the season 0-5, has won five of its last six games and is into the second round. Remarkable. Hereford, which lost to Randall back in Week 1 by a resounding score of 33-0, answered Randall’s apparent game-winning score with a touchdown of its own (Shawndi Gaytan, 1-yard run) with just 28 seconds to play, setting the final margin and ending Randall’s season at 9-2. Hereford QB Ray Martinez was magnificent on the final drive, either running or throwing the football on every play but the last one. He finished the night with 143 yards and 2 TDs rushing and 163 yards and 2 TDs passing, both to Josh Lopez.
FW Southwest 7, Everman 0
In one of the most surprising final scores of the week, Southwest toppled Everman Thursday night with just a single touchdown through four full quarters of action — the fact that Southwest won wasn’t a shock, but the rare score of 7-0 sure was. But I guess that’s what happens when you have as many injuries as Southwest did, stuck with a freshman QB making his first-ever start and a number of freshman rotation guy. How spit-and-bubble gum was Southwest’s offense at key points in this one? The Raiders had to go to injured star WR Robbie Rhodes to throw the only touchdown of the game, a 42-yard bullet to Isaiah Holmes. The real weapon, though, was the Southwest defense, which held Everman to just 144 yards. Posting a shutout these days in the Metroplex is very, very rare. As a matter of fact, Southwest was one of just three teams to do it in all of 5A and 4A this week.
Whitehouse 42, Ennis 32
This game may have turned on two dramatic moments, both coming with precious little time remaining in a half. The first was Whitehouse QB Pat Mahomes’ 51-yard Hail Mary touchdown to WR Dylan Cantrell as time expired in the first half, a score that gave Whitehouse a 28-26 margin at the break. We had that call on Fox Football Friday courtesy of 99.3 FM and Bryan Houston, and it was remarkable. The other play was even bigger, though. With Ennis trailing by three points with under 30 seconds to play, the Lions opted to go for a game-winning touchdown from the 20 on fourth down. But Whitehouse’s Christopher Reese sacked Ennis QB Brandon Adams to force a fumble, and Whitehouse’s Brannon Beaten returned it 62 yards for a game-clinching score with seven seconds remaining.
Elgin 44, Brenham 30
Yet another sensational upset, this one courtesy of the Hill Country, where Elgin dispatched previously 9-1 Brenham behind a balanced effort on both sides of the ball. The writing was on the wall quickly, as Elgin built a 21-0 lead (and then a 28-7) lead in the first quarter. At that point, Brenham was short on time to run the football, and that forced the Cubs into a passing offense that they didn’t want. The result? Three interceptions, five punts and just 82 yards rushing. Elgin QB Te’Rel Simmons, on the other hand, had everything he wanted that night — 194 yards and 3 TDs passing and 194 yards and a TD rushing.
Travis Stewart is the managing editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.