HOUSTON — Bobcat nation proved it could do something many couldn’t — stop Nakia Watson and the Chaparrals when it mattered most.
Serial upset-artisan Cy Fair High School knocked off state-ranked Austin Westlake 14-6 Saturday afternoon at Alamo Stadium to advance to the 6A Division II state championship.
In a low-scoring affair, the Bobcats’ style of game and defense lived up to the hype, forcing turnovers and holding star Chaparral’s running back to 51 rushing yards in 48 minutes. In a defensive battle that pitted both teams in a blow-for-blow affair, Cy-Fair, one of the oldest schools in Houston, came out on top.
Cy-Fair Hard Coach Ed Pustejovsky noted one of the team’s long-standing mottos FTE — or Fight To The End — as the entire school and city’s motivation to reach the looming state championship.
“It’s not a gimmick or anything,” he said. “It’s a motto, ‘Fight To the End, Fight to the end.'” “I think Cy Fair being such an old school, it’s been here so long, people that came here love to come back and watch us, it’s a family, we’ll always be Cy-Fair Bobcats no matter where life takes us.”
While Pustejovsky didn’t share much because he was more focused on celebrating with his team — specifically a defense who shut down Westlake’s Nakia Watson — linebacker Patrick Atkinson added the color to Pustejovsky’s commentary.
“He’s a big back, you have to gang up on him, it’s hard to tackle him one on one because he’s a great back,” said Atkinson, who finished with two sacks. “Big backs, they’re alright, but we can take them.”
Though Cy-Fair opened with the ball and starting running back Trenton Kennedy drive down the field, its opening drive came to a screeching halt when running back Marcus McKinley fumbled a handoff and gave the Chaparrals a chance to gain momentum. The Bobcat defense, though, flexed its muscles and despite the short field ahead of the Chaparrals, Westlake was forced to settle for a field goal.
Cy Fair responded with a near seven-minute drive, scoring in the last seconds of the first quarter after Cam Arnold found tight end Ryan Nelub to take a 7-3 lead. The back and forth continued, as Cy-Fair’s defense continued to clamp down on Nakia Watson and the Chaparrals.
After pinning Cy-Fair deep and forcing them to punt, Westlake took over at the Bobcat 46, after a near-fumble and a couple missed throws, the Chaparrals had to settle for a 37-yard field goal, to close to gap 7-6.
Penalties killed both teams — including a long Cy-Fair pass erased two plays later by a 15-yard penalty. A promising Westlake drive was killed by back-to-back penalties and the hard-hitting Bobcats who nearly knocked quarterback Taylor Anderson out of the game. A defensive face mask and unnecessary roughness call on the Westlake defense, paired with a 20-yard pass by Arnold, put the Bobcats in a superb spot to score.
It took them all four downs, but Cam Arnold connected with cornerback and wide receiver Erick Hallett, who also had an interception, for a 30-yard score to put them up 14-6 with nine minutes remaining.
Westlake attempted to match with a scoring drive of its own, getting inside the Bobcat 30-yard line. Cy-Fair’s defense again showed its prowess, sacking Anderson and nearly coming up with another turnover before forcing a punt. With 2:52 remaining, the Bobcats were forced to settle with a punt themselves, giving Anderson plenty of time to set up a comeback. Just when it seemed a tie game was in reach, with 40 seconds remaining Tate Young caught a nine-yard pass, only to be knocked out as he turned upfield, it was ruled a fumble, and all hope of a Westlake comeback was sealed. CY Fair kneeled it out and is now headed to the state championship.
“They’re a tight-knit group,” said Pustejovsky, still overcome with the excitement of the game. “The community’s a tight-knit group. It’s a good feeling knowing we’ve gotten better week by week . Now we have to have a good work week and do to all again.”
With tight-knit community comes distraction, he said, and there will be plenty of distractions because this will be the first time Cy-Fair is going to the state championship in its history.
“We’ve got to stay focused through the week,” Pustejovsky continued. “Take [care of] your responsibilities, listen to coaches, and block out distractions. That’s how we win.”
The Bobcats will face Waco Midway High School, which defeated Longview in its state semifinal matchup Saturday night, at AT&T in their final game of 2017.
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