McKINNEY — The story of Guyer’s 2020 team is still being written.
But according to the Wildcats’ coach, Rodney Webb, the title has already been decided.
And after Guyer’s latest heart-stopping playoff victory — a 30-24 triple-overtime win over Prosper to claim the Class 6A Division II Region I championship — it is a title that is more than fitting.
“Every team writes its own story,” Webb said. “You don’t ever know as a coach what the story is going to be going into the season. You want it to have a happy ending. But you don’t really know what the story is going to be. This particular team, the story is perseverance.
“That’s the title of the book.”
For Guyer, persevering meant withstanding four quarters of virtually stagnant offense and relying almost exclusively on its defense.
The Wildcats managed just 10 points in regulation, but their defense rose to the occasion time and time again. Guyer denied Prosper three times in the red zone, intercepting two passes and forcing a turnover on downs.
Ultimately, it was enough to send the game into overtime.
That’s when Eli Stowers completely took over.
“We just said, ‘You want your best player to have the opportunity to win the game for you in a clutch situation like that,’” Webb said. “It was the same thing the first time we played them.”
After Prosper scored on a 6-yard run from Jackson Berry to take a 17-10 lead in the first overtime, Stowers answered to keep the game alive. The Texas A&M signee took the snap on a quarterback draw, hit the hole and darted 13 yards for the pylon to tie the game.
Minutes later, Stowers’ number was called again, and he took off up the middle for a 17-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats a 24-17 lead in the second extra period.
Stowers accounted for all four of Guyer's touchdowns on Saturday, including the three in overtime. He ran for 80 yards and three scores, while also throwing for 88 yards and a touchdown.
“It doesn’t have much to do with me,” Stowers said of his performance. “Coach Webb just happens to call some plays that give me the opportunity to run into the end zone. Really, it’s up to my offensive line, receivers and [running] backs, doing whatever they can to execute the play as best they can.
“I can’t thank my team enough for what they allowed me to do today.”
With the game on the line in the second overtime, Prosper responded one final time, converting on fourth-and-six on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Berry to Cameron Harpole.
That score tied the game at 24, sending the game into a third overtime and setting the stage for even more heroics
Prosper quickly went three-and-out in the third overtime and was forced to settle for a field goal. But the kick was blocked, giving Guyer’s offense the ball back needing only a field goal.
The Wildcats got more than that, though.
Like they had done all game, Guyer put the ball in the hands of Stowers, who delivered one final time. On first-and-goal from the 5-yard line, Stowers ran up the middle, and despite being stopped short of the end zone, kept fighting until he broke the plane for the game-winning touchdown.
Pandemonium quickly ensued, as the Wildcats’ bench spilled onto the field in elation.
“Just to go this far and keep these seniors around for as long as possible is the ultimate goal” Guyer defensive back Marquan Pope said. Pope had one of the Wildcats’ two interceptions. “I love these guys to death. We just kept giving the offense opportunities. Eventually, [Prosper’s] defense was going to crack. We knew that. Eli is obviously an elite quarterback. We knew he would come up clutch for us in the end.”
Pope was part of a stout defensive unit for Guyer that held Prosper to just 284 yards.
In Stowers’ words, it was the effort from the Wildcats’ defense that put them in a position to secure their spot in the state semifinal for the second consecutive season.
Guyer will be back at McKinney ISD Stadium next week to play Cedar Hill at 1 p.m. on Jan. 9 in the 6A Division II semifinal.
“I’m so proud of my defense,” Stowers said. “Without them, we aren’t moving on right now. The offense sputtered during [regulation], but we finally turned it on in overtime. But I really can’t thank my defense enough for allowing us to get to overtime.”