FRISCO — After a number of big upsets across the state on Friday, it looked as though Black Friday would creep into Saturday, but Guyer answered the bell each and every time in a 43-36 win over Trophy Club Nelson at the Ford Center to advance to the 6A Division II Region I Final.
Guyer (12-1) needed plays in all three phases to keep its season alive in a game that saw the Wildcats fall behind 10-0 early and 36-35 heading into the fourth quarter.
“[Nelson] came out playing to win,” coach Rodney Webb said. “I don’t know what our kids expected, but I don’t think they expected it was going to go like that.”
At the very start of the game, Guyer got a big, 58-yard pass from quarterback Jackson Arnold to wide receiver Jace Wilson to the Nelson six.
Two plays later, Nelson forced a fumble at the two and turned that takeaway into three points.
Nelson then forced Guyer to punt on its next possession and extended its lead to 10-0 on a 13-yard pass from Jacob Wilson to Adam Stellato.
Guyer found its legs late in the first quarter when Arnold dumped the ball to Jackson Foster on a screen pass on a third and long, and Foster raced 80 yards for the touchdown.
The defense then made the first of three interceptions and scored on the next play to take its first lead at 14-10.
The second interception occurred on the next possession as Eli Bowen reached up from his underneath spot in the zone coverage and returned the ball 45 yards for the score and a 21-10 Guyer lead.
The teams traded scores the rest of the first half, capped off by a 98-yard Peyton Bowen kickoff return for a score to make it 35-24 at the break.
But like the first quarter, the Wildcats started the third quarter the same way – unable to stop Nelson’s offense and incapable of moving the ball.
“We got stung a little bit,” Webb said. “I don’t think we did a great job coming out and answering the bell in the second half either. Tip your hat to [Nelson]. They did a lot of what we couldn’t.”
The Bobcats (9-4) opened the second half with back-to-back long drives, producing points and a 36-35 lead as Guyer could not convert on either of its fourth down runs in the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Guyer defense was able to make key stops, including on fourth down early to get the ball in Byron Nelson territory. Six plays later, Arnold capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run and then found Wilson on the two-point play to make the score 43-36.
With Nelson in need of a score to tie the game or possibly take a late lead, Peyton Bowen baited Nelson’s Wilson into a long throw back across the field and picked the ball off to clinch the win.
“I knew right when I broke that this was to seal the game,” Bowen said.
Guyer improves to 2-1 on the year in one-score games and allows Webb and his coaching staff to refocus his players ahead of next week.
“I told [our players] after the game that in the playoffs there’s such a thing as a bad win or an ugly win,” Webb said. “We took their best shot and came out on top.”
Despite giving up a season-high 502 yards, Guyer advances to take on District 5-6A foe Prosper in the regional finals. Webb could not confirm a time or location for the next game as a coin flip will be held to decide.