Photo: Flo Landsteiner/TexasHSFootball

SAN ANTONIO – Lake Travis looked like the much better team in a 38-17 win over previously undefeated O’Connor. At least, it did in the second half.

“That’s one of the best coached teams we’ve ever played,” Lake Travis coach Hank Carter said following the win. “They definitely out-coached us in the first half. [I’m] proud of the way we responded in the second half. But we’re moving on to the final four.”

The Panthers (13-1) started off sloppy, as it was called offsides three times on the first defensive drive.

The penalties, along with some great plays by Lake Travis (12-2) quarterback Matthew Baldwin and co., helped a lot. Baldwin moved the Cavaliers 62 yards in less than six minutes.

The drive was capped off with Baldwin taking it in from three yards out on his own to take a 7-0 lead. O’Connor needed a fake punt on its next drive to keep it alive, but was able to drive down field to put in a 25-yard kick.

The Cavaliers began their next drive looking to take back the lead, instead they fumbled the ball away. Running back Kyle Wakefield fumbled the ball and O’Connor linebacker Connor Callihan was there for it.

Flo Landsteiner/TexasHSFootball

The Panthers seemed to have all the momentum.

They used that momentum to build a touchdown drive and with 10:08 left in the half, had a 10-7 lead.

Lake Travis took no time to respond, picking up a field goal on its next drive. Before half, the Ohio State commit Baldwin hit Garrett Wilson for 20 yards and a score.

HALFTIME: 17-10 Lake Travis Lead

Flo Landsteiner/TexasHSFootball

The first half was close, but the second half showed who was better.

O’Connor had five drives in the second half. Three of those ended in a punt, one in a fumble and one with a score. The lone score was 86-yard drive.

“They took advantage of some opportunities and we didn’t on both sides of the football,” O’Connor coach David Malesky said after the game. “It wasn’t an offensive deal, it wasn’t a defensive deal. They did and we didn’t.”

On top of the inability to move the ball offensively in the second half, the Panthers had terrible starting field position. Of the 10 drives for O’Connor, only one was better than the 30-yard line. Three were on its own four, 12 and 14-yard lines.

“Well special teams are a huge part of this deal,” Carter said of his special teams unit. “We work the dog out of them and I feel like we have the best kicker and punter in the country, so that helps.”

Down 31-17 with less than three minutes remaining, O’Connor still had dreams of pulling out the win.

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However, quarterback Roel Sanchez hit a flaring Dylan Murray. After the catch, Murray ran with the ball before dropping it. Lake Travis defender Brayden Roeder (one sack on the game) picked up the fumble and returned it 30 yards for a score.

That brought the score to the final, 38-17. O’Connor had a great season, and played well for parts of the game Saturday evening. But it didn’t come out on the right side and is taking no moral victories.

“It’s tough, we don’t play this game to be close, we play to win,” Malesky said.

Game Notes

  • Roel Sanchez threw for 98 yards on 14/22. He ran for 111 yards, leading the Panthers in both passing and rushing.
  • Trey Patterson hit 74 yards on 22 carries.
  • Sanchez had two rushing touchdowns, the only touchdowns for the Panthers.
  • Ohio State commit Matthew Baldwin completed 22 of his 28 passes for 221 yards. He scored three times, though. Twice through the air and once on the ground. His two touchdown passes were to Garrett Wilson, who Baldwin says he hopes to recruit to Ohio State with him.

“I will be, he’s from Dublin, right outside of Columbus,” Baldwin said. “I will be strongly recruiting Garrett. I’m biased, of course, but he’s the best receiver in the country.”

  • Although Wilson had eight catches for 95 yards and two scores, he and others said this Panther defense was the toughest they’ve played. He said it wasn’t as easy as they made it look.

“No [it’s not as easy as it looks], that’s a good team,” Wilson said, laughing. “I just do what I do.”

  • O’Connor was averaging more than 44 points a game through 2017. It’s offense flashed that potential a few times Saturday, but not enough. Coach Carter says even the 17 they gave up, was too much.

“Anytime we give up more than 10 points, we’re not happy,” Carter said. “We’ve been not happy a bunch this year. That was a great effort by our guys tonight. That’s a great offense and they run their quarterback a ton, creates so many gaps, it’s hard to defend.”

Lake Travis will be back in San Antonio against Katy on Saturday, Dec., 16 at 3 p.m., this time at Alamo Stadium.

Gerald Tracy is an assistant editor of Texas football for TexasHSFootball, covering prep football in the San Antonio region. Follow Gerald on Twitter, @GTracySports, and read more of his content here.

 

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