Denton Guyer gave Riley Dodge a few extra seconds to think about a last-second decision in a tie game.
Dodge initially sent Joe McFadden out to attempt a 40-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining in a tie game, but after Guyer coach John Walsh called a timeout, Dodge, the first-year Southlake Carroll head coach, instead sent his offense back onto the field.
That’s where the Dragons reached into their bag of trickery.
John Manero threw a 23-yard halfback pass to Blake Smith with 6 seconds remaining, and although Denton Guyer’s Griffin Gumm ran back the ensuing blocked extra point for two points, undefeated Southlake Carroll held on for a thrilling 33-29 victory at Dragon Stadium.
“I weren’t sure if we were going to run it during the week, but we put the time in,” Manero said. “Me and Blake were throwing after (practice). As soon as (Dodge) called it, I knew that I just had to rely on my practice, and Blake made a nice catch.”
Smith had some input in the decision.
“(Walsh) called a timeout, and I said, ‘Coach, this is the perfect time, perfect position,’” Smith said. “I ran out there and we executed it.”
Manero’s touchdown pass to Smith punctuated a wild fourth quarter for Carroll (5-0, 2-0 District 5-6A), which scored two touchdowns in the final 4:09 of the game to deny Guyer (2-3, 1-1) the opportunity to become the first program to win two games at Dragon Stadium over the Dragons since it opened in 2001.
“It’s a great program, Guyer that is,” Dodge said. “It was a slug-fight all night. I’m really proud of both programs. A lot of ebbs and flows in the game. They didn’t flinch. We didn’t flinch. I’m just proud of this program, proud of this coaching staff.”
Guyer got a big half from junior running back Kaedric Cobbs who rushed for touchdowns of 21 yards and 35 on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter, the latter of which gave the Wildcats a 27-20 lead with 5:32 remaining in regulation. He carried 28 times for 168 yards.
Wildcats quarterback Eli Stowers rushed for 134 yards and threw for 61 yards.
Carroll senior TJ McDaniel rushed for 62 of his team-high 155 yards on the Dragons’ next possession which was punctuated by a 1-yard keeper by quarterback Will Bowers for a 27-all tie. McDaniel added three touchdowns, coming from distances of 10 yards, 21 and 27.
A sack of Stowers by Carroll’s Connor Patterson on the ensuing Guyer drive forced the Wildcats to punt, and ultimately, set up the game-winning touchdown pass to Smith.
“That was a great ball,” Dodge said of Manero’s pass. “It didn’t look that great in practice. I’m just proud of Blake. He’s our backup quarterback. He’s a good kid, a smart kid. I’m proud of him and the offense and the team. I kind of took my headset off and went with my gut.”
Play of the game: It was Smith’s touchdown reception in the final minute of regulation which kept Carroll undefeated on the season.
Offensive player of the game: McDaniel. He came up big whenever the Dragons needed him in the fourth quarter. He accounted for 77 yards on the game-tying drive, including a catch and run of 17 yards on a screen pass, and was ultimately as capped by Bowers’ walk-in touchdown.
Defensive player of the game: Connor Patterson sacked Stowers with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter which led to a Guyer punt and the game-winning touchdown for Carroll.
Unsung hero of the game: RJ Mickens caused a Guyer fumble on a fourth-down run to keep the score tied at 13 late in the third quarter.
What’s next? Guyer gets Keller Timber Creek on Friday, Sept. 12, 7 p.m., while Carroll is at Trophy Club-Byron Nelson.