Cedar Park 52 – Manvel 42
Story of the Game: This game was full of offensive fireworks from the very first snap.
Cedar Park quarterback Ryder Hernandez hit his receiver Jack Hestera down the sideline for an 83-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage that put Cedar Park up 6-0 just 18 seconds in.
After a turnover on downs on its second drive, the Timberwolves kept the momentum going on their third drive as running back Kevin Adams II found paydirt from five yards out to extend the lead to 14-0.
Down two scores, Manvel got the touchdown it needed as running back Ty Harris broke free for a 23-yard run for the score, but Cedar Park responded with some trickery as Hernandez faked a handoff before pitching to Tristan Hervey on a reverse play. Hervey did the rest, racing 32 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
Harris struck again after that with a 54-yard touchdown run, but Cedar Park increased its lead to two scores again, 28-14, with four minutes left in the second quarter as Hernandez found Hestera again on a beautifully placed 13-yard pass down the sideline.
The pattern continued heading into halftime as Manvel quarterback Gabriel Larry hit Jalen Walthall for a 22-yard touchdown before Hernandez found his receiver Preston Scott, who shrugged off a defender and sprinted to the house for a 30-yard touchdown with just seven seconds left in the half to give Cedar Park a 35-21 halftime advantage.
Coming out of the locker room in the third quarter, Manvel flipped the momentum completely. First De’Monte’ Seymour finished off a Manvel drive with a two-yard touchdown run before Larry hit Walthall on the ensuing drive from 26 yards out for their second touchdown connection of the game to tie the game up at 35.
Cedar Park tried to turn the tide with a field goal that put it up by three, but Manvel bounced back and claimed its first lead of the game just ten seconds into the fourth quarter as Larry scored on a 23-yard touchdown run.
From there, Cedar Park took over. After forcing a turnover on downs, the Timberwolves offense took full advantage as Hernandez hit Gunnar Abseck on a shovel pass for a one-yard score with just under seven minutes to go. The defense stepped up after that with another big play as Blake Burton recovered a Manvel fumble on the next drive. Cedar Park used that fumble to ice the game as senior running back Cade Haught barreled into the end zone from three yards out to give Cedar Park a 52-42 lead that it would hold onto for the remainder of the game.
The dangerous combination of Hernandez and the Timberwolves offense and its Black Rain defense will now look to vanquish Veterans Memorial in the semifinals as it seeks to secure its first state title berth since 2015.
Play of the Game: It may not have been the most jaw-dropping play of the game, but it may have been the most important. With Cedar Park having just gone up 45-42, its Black Rain defense came up with a game-changing play. After Manvel’s ball carrier was stripped of the ball, senior cornerback Blake Burton came up with a huge recovery that set Cedar Park up in Manvel territory. With the way Manvel’s offense had been moving the ball all game long, that forced turnover gave Cedar Park the breathing space it needed as it drove down the field and put the game away with Haught’s late touchdown run.
Player of the Game: QB Ryder Hernandez- Hernandez has been electric all year and he delivered yet again in this one. He threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns, including the explosive 83-yard bomb to Hestera to open the game, as he led the Timberwolves in this shootout against a high-powered Manvel offense.