ARLINGTON — Disaster struck early for Guyer on Saturday night.
Just seven plays into the Wildcats’ opening drive in the Class 6A Division II title game, junior Eli Stowers took off on a designed quarterback run. Stowers got the edge and gained yards but was tackled awkwardly in the open field.
A collective hush fell over AT&T Stadium as Guyer tended to its signal caller. After a few minutes, Stowers was eventually helped off the field by trainers, unable to put any weight on his left leg.
His night was done — and so was Guyer’s, before it even had a chance to get started.
With Stowers sidelined and freshman Jackson Arnold at quarterback, the Wildcats were never able to move the ball effectively. And as a result, Guyer’s storybook season ended in tragic fashion, with Austin Westlake rolling to a 24-0 victory and the 6A Division II crown.
“It’s tough, because we weren’t able to give ourselves a chance,” Guyer coach John Walsh said. “You want to go at it with all your bullets. And we lost a pretty good bullet.”
Walsh provided no further details to Stowers’ injury after the game, only saying it was a knee injury.
From the moment Stowers left, the complexion of the title bout changed completely. Stowers entered the state championship with 2,960 passing yards and 36 touchdowns. On the ground, he ran for 1,152 yards and 11 scores, production that was impossible for Arnold to replicate.
ARLINGTON — Make no mistake about it, Jackson Arnold is the future for Guyer at quarterback.…
Without its star quarterback, Guyer quickly became one-dimensional, relying solely on its ground attack. The Wildcats managed to rack up 172 rushing yards by night’s end but amassed just 15 yards through the air. Arnold completed just two of his 11 attempts while throwing two interceptions.
Arnold, who is highly thought of among Guyer coaches, is widely considered the future at the quarterback position once Stowers graduates. But on the biggest and brightest stage, Arnold was promptly thrust into a near-impossible scenario.
ARLINGTON — In the moments leading up to kickoff between Guyer and Austin Westlake, Kaedric …
“[Stowers] is a heck of a player,” said Cobbs, who ended his final game in a Guyer uniform with 164 yards on 28 carries. “He’s a lot of our offense. When you lose a player like that, it makes things tough. But I’m proud of the way we faced that adversity. Jackson played his heart out and never gave up. It would have been easy for him to quit, but he never did.”
Westlake was already up 7-0 when Stowers went down midway through the first quarter. The Chaparrals scored on their opening drive via a 5-yard touchdown pass from Kirkland Michaux to Jake Misch.
Guyer only trailed 14-0 at halftime after Cole Ramsey intercepted Michaux on Westlake’s final drive of the second quarter. But the Wildcats’ offense was never able to sustain any momentum in the final two quarters.
Westlake eventually went up 21-0 on a 39-yard pass from Michaux to Jackson Coker in the third quarter before adding a 27-yard David Leadbetter field goal.
The loss dropped Guyer to 2-2 all-time in state title games. It also marked the first time the Wildcats were shut out since a 28-0 loss to Cedar Hill in Week 2 of 2018.
“I’m extremely proud of them,” Walsh said. “When you lose your quarterback, sometimes it can fall apart completely. But I thought we stayed competitive throughout the whole game, we just couldn’t cross the goal line.”
Austin Westlake 24, Guyer 0
AW — Jake Misch 5 pass from Kirkland Michaux (David Leadbetter kick)
AW — Mason Mangum 33 pass from Kirkland Michaux (David Leadbetter kick)
AW — Jackson Coker 39 pass from Kirkland Michaux (David Leadbetter kick)
AW — David Leadbetter 27 FG
Rushing — AW: Gray Nakfoor 2-12, Zane Minors 3-7, Jackson Coker 3-6, Kirkland Michaux 7--7, DG: Kaedric Cobbs 28-162, Eli Stowers 3-13, Harrison Bohannon 1-6, Jackson Arnold 11--9.
Passing — AW: Kirkland Michaux 20-31-1-285, DG: Eli Stowers 2-3-0-9, Jackson Arnold 2-11-2-6.
Receiving — AW: Jackson Coker 3-85, Mason Mangum 3-78, Ryan Lindley 7-65, Jaden Greathouse 4-28, Gray Nakfoor 1-20, Jake Misch 1-5, Zane Minors 1-4, DG: Brandon Deleon 2-10, Kaedric Cobbs 1-3, Travis Romar 1-2.