Lubbock Estacado took quick-strike to another level Friday night and the result is hello third round of the playoffs.
Canyon and Estacado were putting on a back and forth show in this Class 4A Division I area playoff game played out Friday night in gorgeous Bain-Schaeffer Buffalo Stadium on the West Texas A&M Campus.
With seven minutes to play the score was knotted at 21-21 and legit thoughts of a possible overtime.
But Estacado turned this one around converting a third-and-14 and then it was the Ross Brothers Speed Show with junior Bobby and sophomore Cedric combining to scorch Canyon on three runs for 21 points in a span of 2:21 – without the help of turnover – earning a 42-21 win.
The victory sets up Estacado (10-2) with a regional round game against Decatur (8-4) at a time and place to be determined, said Estacado head coach Will Blaylock.
Blaylock was pleased the way his team did its best going toe-to-toe with Canyon’s smash-mouth offense and then seizing the momentum the final seven minutes of the 48-minute game.
“Our kids played hard and never quit fighting,” Blaylock said. “I tell people this is a special group and there is something about them they refuse to quit, and I love them. Our whole theme this year is based on love. Love your brother. Love your coaches. Coaches love each other. You saw it tonight.”
The loss ends Canyon’s season at 9-3 and in the area round for the second straight year. It also ended with legit thoughts of what might have been as Estacado – especially, elusive and gifted senior quarterback DJ Johnson – won because it came through in the clutch on long down and distance plays and a goal-line stand ending the first half.
“Give Estacado credit,” Canyon coach Todd Winfrey said. “Everybody that was here saw that they had athletes on the field, and we knew we were going to have to play a really, really high-level game. And we did at times. You can’t miss a tackle on those guys. Our head coach didn’t do a great job so I’m going to go in there and apologize to those kids.
“We asked them to lay it on the line and we agreed we were going to fire our bullets and we fired a lot of them tonight. At the end of the day you have to push all your chips in and see where it falls. And sometimes you win and sometimes you lose on the scoreboard. That bunch right there (nodding toward his players) are winners in the locker room, in our school and in our community and I couldn’t be prouder.”
No doubt Canyon tossed the kitchen sink and then some at Estacado.
The Eagles opened the game with an on-side kick, scored on a double pass, secured a first down on a fake punt from their own territory, tried an across the field pass on a kickoff, went for a touchdown on a first-and-goal from the 2-yardline with five seconds remaining in the half, and eight times went for it on fourth down.
“Trick plays, onside kicks, you have to give Coach Winfrey credit his playbook must be 3-4 inches thick, my gosh,” Blaylock said.
With all that went one, this game was certainly decided in the final seven minutes after Canyon’s shifty Christian McGuire scored his second TD of the game on a 8-yard run with 9:08 remaining knotting the game at 21.
McGuire’s TD brought Canyon back to life after Johnson knocked the wind out of the Eagles late in the third period. On a 4th and 8 play from the Canyon 31, Johnson eluded pressure from the hustling Canyon pass rush, then while rolling out found Deeondrick Green not only for the first down but a touchdown putting the Mats up 21-14.
“DJ and D Green are two of our senior leaders and sometimes playmakers just make plays,” Blaylock said.
“That was a killer,” Winfrey said. “Give them credit. A great athlete bought time and a great athlete beat us on the other end.”
“I feel like that play right there changed the whole game for us,” Johnson said. “I was trying to extend the play longer and I saw him coming across and put it on him.”
Canyon’s D once again had Estacado on the ropes with seven minutes to play and the game tied on a third-and-14 from its own 48.
This time Johnson found speedster Cedric Ross on a pass play that Ross took to the end zone. But a blocking in the back penalty denied the TD and left Estacado facing a third-and-2 from its own 40.
A handoff to 6-3, 215-pound junior running back Bobby Ross netted 30 yards and two plays later Ross scored on a 3-yard run putting Estacado up for good 28-21 with 6:24 to play.
Canyon’s offense couldn’t manage a first down in four plays. On Estacado’s first offensive play it was Cedric Ross scoring on a 33-yard run finding the sideline for a 35-21 lead with 4:38 to play.
Canyon went to its passing game on its next possession and failed to manage a first down.
This time it was Bobby Ross going 39 yards on Estacado’s one play 39-yard drive putting Estacado ahead 42-21 with 4:03 to play.
Those 21 points in two minutes and 21 seconds took this game from a tight one to over and done with.
Canyon did a nice job controlling the ball at times pounding way at Estacado with tight formations and out of the Wildcat. Canyon ran 44 times for 201 yards with McGuire leading the way at 92 yards.
Canyon finished with 171 yards passing, the highlight being on the Eagles air attack the first TD early in the second half when quarterback Boston Bell threw outside to Noah Sanchez. Sanchez stopped and lofted a perfect pass to McGuire in stride for a 48-yard TD.
Estacado didn’t crank out a massive amount of yardage with just under 300 yards, but it did hurt Canyon with seven plays of 24 or more yards, and, of course the running of Bobby Ross (152 yards on 14 carries and three TDs).
“Hats off to Coach (Todd) Winfrey and those guys at Canyon,” Coach Blaylock said. “They play hard and do what they do. They gave us a bunch of different looks and tested us. They tested our mettle up front on defense and our kids rose up.”
In another Class 4A Division I area round clash, Brownwood knocked off Randall 37-10. The Raiders end the year at 7-5.