By Senior Writer, Adam Ogburn / Twitter: @aogburn00
The six weeks of high school football playoffs are some of the most exciting weeks in Texas as fall football weather finally begins to take over and teams rise to the occasion in pursuit of the ultimate goal of a state title. This past weekend, that journey began for teams in Conferences 1A-4A as they kicked off what will likely be a postseason unlike any other. Meanwhile, teams in conferences 5A and 6A still produced many exciting games and memorable moments as their regular seasons continue to wind down.
After another action-packed weekend of Texas high school football, here are the top moments from week 12.
T-10. Tanner Murray’s big night leads Langham Creek past Cy-Falls in overtime
When Langham Creek needed someone to rise to the occasion to maintain control of its own destiny for the playoffs, Tanner Murray stepped up in the biggest way to secure a crucial victory for the Lobos. Murray threw for 384 yards, rushed for 189 additional yards, and totaled five touchdowns on the night. He completed touchdowns of 73 yards and 63 yards to his receiver Jaquaize Pettaway, while also scoring on touchdown runs of 7 yards, 9 yards, and 75 yards to lead the Lobo offense. However, Cy-Falls kept pace thanks to 260 passing yards by its quarterback Jonathan Valdez and 142 yards rushing by running back Jaylan Walker. After Valdez found Justin Bingham for a 15-yard score with just 46 seconds left, the game went to overtime. After a night full of Murray’s exploits, Langham Creek running back Jayden Landry and the Lobo defense did the heavy lifting in overtime. Landry burst free through a gaping hole on the first play from scrimmage in overtime and scored on a 25-yard touchdown run. Then, Langham Creek’s defense came up with the stop it needed on the ensuing possession to secure the victory for the Lobos. With Langham Creek hanging onto the final playoff spot in District 16-6A, it will need Murray to continue to lead the way as the Lobos look to return to the playoffs after missing out last year.
Jayden Landry’s go-ahead OT touchdown run (Courtesy of Texan Live):https://twitter.com/Texan_Live/status/1327096199128735750
T-10. Olton defeats New Deal in back-and-forth affair for first playoff win in 11 years
Olton and New Deal was the first playoff matchup of the 2020 Texas high school football season as it kicked off at 4 p.m. last Thursday. It certainly didn’t disappoint. Olton hadn’t won a playoff game since 2009 but led 22-13 at halftime thanks to a rushing touchdown by quarterback Jack Allcorn and a pair of touchdown carries by running back Aldo Vasquez. That halftime deficit evidently didn’t sit well with New Deal quarterback Harley Patterson. Patterson scored on a 17-yard touchdown run to open the second half before finding his receiver Jordan Aubrey on a 31-yard passing touchdown on the ensuing possession to put the Lions up 26-22. Olton wasn’t down for long. Allcorn responded by finding Brennon Huguley, who got behind the New Deal defense right down the seam, for a 27-yard score to put Olton back up 29-26 with just over a minute to go in the third. Patterson rose to the occasion again for New Deal, scoring on an eight-yard touchdown with nine minutes to go in the fourth to put the Lions in front 33-29 as the teams continued to trade blows. However, it was Olton that came up with the knockout punch. Vasquez found paydirt again from four yards out to put Olton up for 35-33 with just over five minutes to go. It was a lead that Olton wouldn’t relinquish as its defense came up with two interceptions in the closing minutes. Allcorn finished the game with 243 passing yards passing and 83 yards rushing, while Vasquez finished with 75 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the ground. Olton with need this backfield duo to continue to come up in big ways as it looks to keep its season alive when it faces Cisco in Colorado City this Friday.
9. Edna advances over London with walk-off field goal
Edna and Corpus Christi London were locked in a tight affair all night when they squared off in the first round of playoffs. Edna led 14-7 at the half, but London bounced back to knot the game at 14 just three minutes into the second half as quarterback Ty Leonard made an impressive throw on the run off a bootleg to find his receiver Donyae Castaneda for a 26-yard touchdown. Leonard struck again with just over two minutes to go in the third quarter as he found Pierson Cazalas on a post route for a 17-yard score. Down 21-14 and with its season flashing before its eyes, Edna took over from there. First, running back Dawson Kallus burst free for a thirty-yard touchdown run down the sideline to tie the game at 21 with just over eight minutes to go. Then with the clock ticking down, Edna quarterback Jaiden Clay found his receiver Joshua Muncrief on a lofted pass down the field. Muncrief boxed out his defender to make the catch before spinning away from a tackler and getting the ball down to the London 18 yard line. That set the scene for Edna kicker Santiago Villanueva to play hero as he kept his cool and converted a 35-yard field goal attempt with just seven seconds to go to seal a 24-21 win for Edna. After a nail-biting victory, the road will not get any easier for Edna though as the Cowboys will square off with 9-1 Jourdanton in round two on Saturday.
Villanueva’s game-winning field goal (Courtesy of Peter Scamardo II): https://twitter.com/PLScamardo2/status/1327456996077998080
8. Rogers edges Tidehaven with late touchdown bomb
Rogers looked to be in trouble late in the second quarter with Tidehaven up 27-9. However, Rogers running back Christian Riley wasn’t panicked. The Rogers offense drove down the field on either side of halftime with Riley capping both drives with a touchdown run to cut the Tidehaven lead to 27-24. After Jose Martinez scored his third touchdown of the night for Tidehaven, R.J. Cook took a handoff out of the Rogers flexbone alignment and went right through the Tidehaven defense for a 29-yard score to get the deficit back to three, 34-31. After a field goal by Rogers kicker Julian Lashbrook and a fumble by Tidehaven, Rogers took over with the game tied at 34 and the ball at their own 26-yard line. The Eagles only needed one play. Rogers quarterback Riley Dolgener threw a pinpoint pass to Riley, who slipped a tackle and raced 74 yards for the go-ahead score with just 77 seconds to go. “Just like all successful plays, it takes everyone doing their job,” Rogers head coach Charlie Roten said. “The line did a great job of protecting the quarterback, Christian did a great job getting open, and Riley made a tremendous throw. And, Christian did a really good job of breaking that tackle and getting in the end zone.” After an interception on the following Tidehaven possession, Rogers sealed a 41-34 victory despite trailing for much of the night. “Our team is a bunch of fighters,” Roten said. “They stay the course, trust the plan, and just keep playing.” Rogers will definitely need the resiliency and fight it showed last week when it faces a huge test in the second round of playoffs as it squares off against 9-0 and state-ranked Poth in Smithville on Friday.
Riley’s game winning catch-and-run touchdown (Courtesy of Hudl): http://www.hudl.com/v/2EcmX
7. Wylie stuns Rowlett to earn playoff spot
One of the messages while trying to play a football season in the middle of a pandemic has been adaptability. This was the case in District 9-6A, which was split into two zones. Rowlett was the number one seed out of Zone A and Wylie was the number four seed out of Zone B. The way the playoff spots were allotted, it meant that this showdown between Rowlett and Wylie was a winner-take-all matchup for a spot in the playoffs. Wylie came out firing with several explosive plays in the first half. Pirate quarterback Marcus McElroy threw touchdown passes of 72 yards and 44 yards to Cameron Pruitt and Seth Kramer respectively, while Blake Fuller added a 29-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep. However, three rushing touchdowns by Rowlett, two from running back Dwonyae Newton and one from quarterback Tre Carr, coupled with two missed conversions by Wylie meant that Rowlett led 21-19 at the half. After a Wylie field goal, Rowlett sophomore receiver Ernest Thomas answered with an explosive 65-yard punt return for a touchdown to give Rowlett a 27-22 lead heading into the fourth. The fateful moment came with just under nine minutes to go in the ball game. McElroy bided his time in the pocket before finding Pruitt downfield across the middle. Pruitt duped a tackler before racing away for a 64-yard catch-and-run score. Kramer came up with the two-point conversion and Wylie led 30-27. The teams traded punts in the final eight minutes as Rowlett failed to sustain the drive it needed to save its playoff hopes. With this remarkable victory, Wylie secures a playoff berth despite only having one victory on the year, while Rowlett will miss out on the postseason despite only having one loss. It is a situation that would normally cause a lot of head scratching, but it is simply another byproduct of this crazy year that is 2020.
6. Brock Nellor and Mount Vernon outgun Gladewater in shootout
Coming out of the ultracompetitive District 5-3A Division I, Mount Vernon found itself facing a tough task in state-ranked Gladewater in the opening round of the playoffs. Luckily for the Tigers, quarterback Brock Nellor wasn’t fazed. Nellor lit up the night in Emory, Texas with 326 yards passing, 122 yards on the ground, and six total touchdowns. This included a 72-yard bomb down the sideline and a 75-yard touchdown jump pass to Jacob Marshall. However, one of the biggest touchdowns on the night was the only one that Nellor didn’t score for Mount Vernon. With the Tigers up 29-28 late in the first half, defensive back Makenzie McGill jumped a route in the flat and took the interception back 41 yards for a pick-six to put Mount Vernon up 37-28 at the half. Despite huge nights from its running backs Eligia Carter, 182 yards on 19 carries, and Malachi Gordon, 280 yards on 44 carries, Gladewater never fully recovered as Nellor scored the final two of his six touchdowns in the second half as Mount Vernon held on for a 51-43 victory. With former Baylor coach Art Briles at the helm and Nellor leading the way, this Mount Vernon team might be the toughest four seed still left in the playoffs. Next up for Mount Vernon is a talented West team, which is coming off a 62-6 win over Kemp in the first round. These two 9-2 teams will meet in Rockwall on Friday for what should be a fantastic second round matchup.
Nellor’s jump pass TD to Jacob Marshall (Courtesy of Hudl): http://www.hudl.com/v/2EdS7u
5. Deuce McGregor and Cameron Ford combine to lead Chapel Hill in upset of Livingston
Cameron Ford and the Bulldogs of Chapel Hill just keep rolling. A week after securing its first playoff berth in five years, Chapel Hill was not done when it took on Livingston. Livingston led 21-14 at the half, but it didn’t last long. Just seconds into the second half, Chapel Hill quarterback Cameron Ford threw a pass towards his receiver Deuce McGregor along the sideline. After nearly being intercepted by a diving Livingston defender, McGregor came down with the catch and slipped free, racing away for a 93-yard score to knot the game at 21. After the teams traded touchdowns, it was Ford again. On a quarterback draw, he slipped through the initial line of Livingston defenders before turning on the jets and leaving the pursuing defenders in the dust for a 75-yard touchdown run to put Chapel Hill up 35-28. Livingston answered again as freshman running back Ja’Marri Green, who finished the night with 80 rushing yards, scored his second touchdown of the game to even the score at 35 apiece. Ford and McGregor took over from there. First, after dropping the snap, Ford kept his cool and launched a ball over the Livingston defense for a 46-yard touchdown pass to McGregor with just under seven minutes to go. After a Livingston punt, Ford finished up proceedings by taking another direct snap to the house as he again raced away from the Livingston defense for a 55-yard touchdown run, giving Chapel Hill the cushion it needed to hold on to a 49-37 victory. McGregor finished the night with 166 yards and two touchdowns on just three catches, while adding an interception on defense. Ford, meanwhile, rushed for 238 yards and three touchdowns, while adding 155 yards and two touchdowns on just four completed passes. With Ford and McGregor in sync, the Bulldogs will certainly not be an easy out. Their next challenge will come in round two on Saturday when they square off against Stafford in Porter.
4. Big Spring advances over El Paso Riverside in wild 3OT thriller
The first round showdown between Big Spring and Riverside last Friday was an absolute roller coaster of a game. Big Spring came out of the gates flying and led 20-7 by the end of the first quarter. However, Riverside slowly reeled the Steers back in and a 16-yard touchdown pass from its quarterback Angel Munoz to receiver Aaron Aguilar in the corner of the end zone with just under seven minutes to go in the game knotted the score at 20 and eventually sent the game to overtime. That is where things got wild. Riverside struck first in overtime on what appeared to be a field goal, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Rangers a second chance. Munoz took full advantage as he threw across his body on a bootleg and found Adrian Estrada for a two-yard touchdown completion. However, the extra point was blocked, providing Big Spring with the opportunity to win with a touchdown and extra point. With the ball at the Riverside 31, Big Spring quarterback Gabriel Baeza cut across the field on a scramble drill, dodging Riverside defenders before turning up the sideline and breaking two more Riverside tackles to find the end zone. All that Big Spring needed was the extra point to win, but this time it was Riverside which came up with a huge block and kept the game alive, tied at 26. The second overtime belonged to the defenses as each offense threw an interception on consecutive plays. In triple overtime, after Riverside failed to score on its possession, Big Spring had yet another chance to win it. This time it took full advantage. Baeza found his receiver Pablito Dehoyos on a bootleg for a two-yard touchdown to seal a memorable 32-26 victory for Big Spring. “The team impressed me by the way that we were able to handle adversity and continue to fight. The game had many momentum shifts, but we were able to bounce back enough to win the football game,” Big Spring head coach Cannon McWilliams said. “The big thing that we have preached all year is that we just need to play the next play, no matter what happens. We definitely exemplified that in the playoff win. It was a great win for our kids, staff and community.” Big Spring was led by Baeza, who finished the night with 156 yards passing, 205 yards rushing, and four total touchdowns. “The thing that impresses me (weekly) about Gabriel’s performance is how he never seems to get rattled. He’s always looking forward and never dwells on a negative play,” McWilliams said. “Riverside was giving us a look defensively that opened up some things on the ground for our quarterback and [running backs]. Our offensive line did a great job opening holes and we were able to take advantage of the looks that they were giving us.” After such a wild game, Big Spring will need Baeza to come up again big this week when they travel to Abilene to square off against 9-2 Springtown for a spot in the third round this Friday.
3. Raymondville pulls off remarkable comeback to knock off Devine
Due to COVID-19 delays and postponements, Raymondville had only played one game this season heading into its playoff showdown against Devine. It seemed to be in trouble down 21-0 in the first quarter. Enter Raymondville running back ZaRaiVion Armendarez. Armendarez rushed for touchdowns of 17 yards and 34 yards and also scored on a 71-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Those three touchdowns coupled with a pick-six by Nathan Munguia meant the game was tied at 28 at the half. Armendarez continued lighting up the scoreboard in the second half. He opened the half with an 18-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage and added touchdown runs of seven yards and 32 yards on ensuing possessions as Raymondville pulled out to a 48-35 lead with just over ten minutes to go. Devine made a late push for the comeback as quarterback Brady Hackebeil scored on a quarterback sneak and Buddy Santos scored on a 14-yard run with just under five minutes to go. However, a blocked extra point and a huge play by Raymondville defensive lineman Jaden Brooks to deny Devine on a two-point conversion play meant that Raymondville held on for a 48-47 victory. Having only played two games now on the season, Raymondville is certainly learning on the fly, but, with Armendarez leading the way, these Bearkats cannot be counted out. The next challenge for Raymondville will come on Friday when they take on Navarro in Corpus Christi.
2. Heights hands Lamar first district loss in 73 games
Lamar has been the face of Houston ISD football over the past 10 years, winning its past 72 district games dating back all the way to October 2, 2009. At least until Friday night. Utah State commit and Heights running back Kendric Rhymes had the Bulldogs up 14-6 heading to the fourth quarter thanks to a 12-yard touchdown reception and an 11-yard touchdown run. However, Lamar was not going to let an 11-year streak fall without a fight. Lamar quarterback Winston Smith hit his receiver Terrence Rone for a 6-yard touchdown and the ensuing two-point conversion to knot the score at 14 with about eight minutes to go. With neither team able to find a breakthrough in the closing minutes, the game went to overtime. Lamar got the ball first and took care of business with running back Kenneth Kennedy punching in from one yard out to put the Texans up 21-14. Again, Rhymes answered for the Bulldogs as he scored on a rushing touchdown from 11 yards out. With so much on the line, Heights decided to end it right then and there. The Bulldogs lined up to go for two in the wildcat. It was Rhymes yet again who found paydirt, clinching a stunning 22-21 victory for Heights. After ten years of Lamar dominating Houston ISD, Heights now can secure an outright district title with two wins in its final two games beginning when it faces Houston Sam Houston this Thursday.
1. Community shocks #10 Glen Rose in playoff opener
4-5 Nevada Community was a heavy underdog when it traveled on the road to take on a state-ranked and 9-1 Glen Rose to open the playoffs last Friday. However, the Braves played like anything but an underdog. After a competitive first half, Community clung to a narrow 14-13 advantage at the interval thanks to a two-yard touchdown run by Quinton Hall. After Glen Rose opened up the second half scoring with a touchdown run to go up 19-14, Community answered in a big way. Quarterback Paul Testa launched a pass right over the Glen Rose defense and hit his receiver Ty Simpkins in the end zone for a 41-yard score to put the Braves up 21-19 with about five minutes to go in the third quarter. After two Glen Rose field goals put the Tigers ahead 25-21, the game went down to the wire. Community promptly launched a nine minute drive all the way down to the Glen Rose one yard line. The Braves brought in their heavy package and quarterback Paul Testa did the rest, barging into the end zone on a quarterback sneak to put Community up 28-25. Glen Rose had one more chance. The Tigers drove down the field and got in position to kick a 39-yard field goal, but the kick was short as the Braves held on for a remarkable victory. Testa finished the night with four completions on six attempts for 116 yards and two touchdowns, while Quinton Hall added 73 yards and a touchdown on the ground to go with his 11 tackles and forced fumble from his safety position on defense. This was a monumental victory for the Braves, but they will need another one this week when they take on Texarkana Pleasant Grove, which has won two of the last three state titles, in the second round of playoffs on Saturday.