Long touchdown drives helped fuel a 38-27 win by Fort Worth Christian over visiting and previously unbeaten Grapevine Faith Friday night for the TAPPS Div. II Dist. 1 championship.
The Cardinals (7-3, 4-0) drove 85, 95, and 97 yards for scores.
Quarterback Tyler Knoop was the driving force behind the Cardinal offense. The versatile senior threw for 339 yards in a 14-26-0 performance including two touchdowns. He also rushed 24 times for 88 yards and another pair of scores.
His favorite target was Curtis Lyons who made several key catches despite tight coverage, often on third-and-long, diving for several receptions. One was for 14 yards on fourth-and-seven to the 4-yard leading to the clinching touchdown and final score with 5:43 left. Knoop scored from the 1.
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Lyons finished with seven catches for 127 yards.
Grapevine (8-1, 3-1) scored two touchdowns on special teams, a 90-yard punt return by Luke Blevins and a 91-yard kickoff return by Malik Caper.
In the first half, Fort Worth led, 17-14. First, Blevins mishandled a punt, went back to retrieve it, and then broke tackles to eventually turn it into his 90-yard score.
That was in the first quarter. Early in the second, Fort Worth tied it at 7 when Stephen Grove caught a pass from Knoop despite tight single coverage and converted it into a 70-yard score down the middle.
The two teams continued to alternate scores. Grapevine was able to capitalize on a shanked 11-yard punt that set the line of scrimmage at the Fort Worth 34-yard line. Three plays later, Caper crossed from the outside into the end zone where he caught a pass from Duece Hogan for a 14-yard touchdown.
Fort Worth again tied on the ensuing possession despite a bungled kickoff return that started play at its 5-yard line. The Cardinals nevertheless drove the distance in 12 plays with Knoop running it in up the middle from the 4. Along the way, he completed passes of 10, 27, and 23 yards to Lyons. Knoop himself converted a third-and-10 with a quarterback draw 14 yards to the 6.
Finally, only seconds before halftime, Jamal Marshall intercepted at about his 38 yard line and returned to the Grapevine 19. After a penalty halfway to the goalline, Jack Sisson connected on a 26-yard field goal for a 17-14 Fort Worth lead as time expired to end the first half. It gave Fort Worth the lead for good.
What’s next? Fort Worth Christian and Grapevine Faith, seeded first and second in the district standings, will await the outcomes of other games to determine their opponents next week in the opening round of the playoffs.