Lake Ridge, a team known for reaching the third round of the playoffs every year, found itself in trouble at halftime. Denton Guyer had a 14-7 lead and controlled the ball for over 16 minutes.
It took five words from Lake Ridge coach Kirk Thor to get the Eagles going.
“Go play Lake Ridge football,” Thor said.
The Eagles adjusted, scored 43 points after the break and won one of the wildest games in Texas high school football history, 50-42 in triple overtime over the Wildcats in the Class 6A Division II area round Saturday at Pennington Field.
Lake Ridge (9-2) will face Amarillo Tascosa (9-3), which beat Arlington, in the regional round, 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Grande Stadium in Midland.
“Guyer was tough and we had to overcome some things, and it didn’t look really well for three and half quarters, but the defense made some plays,” Thor said. “I told them that if they wanted to play together as a family for one more week, go out there and see what we could do, and the kids responded and I’m really proud of them.”
With Lake Ridge on offense first to begin the third overtime, Chandler Rogers hit Keylan Johnson for a 15-yard touchdown pass and the two hooked up again during the mandatory 2-point try.
“It was about getting open, run a slant and make sure to catch the ball,” said Johnson, who had six catches, 87 yards and two TDs. “It’s amazing to win and we played our hearts out.”
Guyer (6-6) had a chance to force a fourth overtime, but Darius Houston made the biggest defensive play of the game with a sack of quarterback Eli Stowers on third-and-6 that resulted in a loss of 13 yards.
Stowers couldn’t find an open man on fourth down and was tackled by a group of Eagles to end the game.
“The mindset the whole time was that we didn’t want to lose to Guyer again,” Houston said. “We were down, but we kept playing and kept fighting.”
Trailing 14-7 to start the third quarter, Andrew Awe forced a fumble for the Eagles and Jacoby Harrison returned it 65 yards for the score. The extra point was missed as Guyer held a 14-13 lead midway through the period.
Guyer responded on the ensuing drive when Stowers scored on a 14-yard run to give the Wildcats a 21-13 lead.
Lake Ridge tied it at 21-21 when Tameron Derrough scored from the 7 and Rogers hit Johnson for two with 9:38 left to play.
Kaedric Cobbs gave Guyer the 28-21 lead with his 8-yard run, but Lake Ridge tied it once more with 6:07 remaining thanks to Rogers’ 33-yard TD pass to Ronny Gordon.
After Guyer elected to start overtime on defense, Johnson caught a 4-yard TD from Rogers to give Lake Ridge a 35-28 lead.
Cobbs, who finished with 34 carries and 126 yards, scored his third TD of the day from the 3 to force a second OT. Stowers, who rushed for a career-high 196 yards on 31 carries, pushed Guyer in front 42-35 after his 2-yard TD run.
The Eagles knotted it up at 42-42 to force the third OT when Dewone Jackson scored from the 8.
“We hadn’t beaten Guyer until tonight and the seniors wanted to beat them,” said Rogers, who accounted for 453 total yards and three TD passes. “I saw that mis-match with Keylan and I know my man is going to beat them every time. This is up there as one of the hardest fought games I’ve ever played.”
Jackson scored on the second play of the game on a 54-yard TD, but Guyer went up 14-7 on a Stowers’ 12-yard TD pass to Seth Meador with 1:51 left in the opening quarter and Cobbs’ first TD from the 8 with 9:42 in the second.
Both teams combined for 976 yards, 162 plays and 57 first downs.
Said Houston, “This was one of the craziest games I’ve been a part of since I’ve been playing football.”