WICHITA FALLS — For the first time in five seasons, the Guyer football team made a trip up north to Wichita Falls’ Memorial Stadium, and it didn’t go as planned.
After the team buses broke down, the Wildcats were only able to go through about half of their pregame warm-ups before taking on Wichita Falls Rider in what essentially amounted to the District 5-4A title game.
Throughout the first quarter, it appeared the Wildcats were still stretching their legs out as Rider piled up a 10-point lead thanks to its big-play offense and a lackluster offensive performance from Guyer. Then, everything changed, as Guyer scored 28 points in the second quarter on its way to a 56-30 win over the Raiders, giving the No. 6 Wildcats the inside track to the District 5-4A title.
“Not to make an excuse, but when your buses break down and you miss half your pregame, that’ll give you a slow start,” Walsh said. “I don’t think it affected their intensity, but it definitely was a distraction.
“I’ll give our kids credit for overcoming it and finally getting it going.”
After Rider (6-2, 4-1) took a 10-0 lead near the end of the first quarter, Guyer (6-2, 5-0) ended its offensive slumber and got some huge plays from its defense.
None were bigger than middle linebacker Marcel Thomas’ interception of Rider quarterback Chase London, who entered the game with just one interception and 21 touchdown passes. Guyer defensive tackle Carl Thompson tipped the ball at the line, and Thomas made the interception at the Rider 22-yard line with two minutes left in the half. London was again intercepted later by DeMarcus Owens after Thompson hit him just before the throw.
“That first interception was a big one so we could go score and get more points before halftime,” said Anthony Taylor, who rushed for 91 yards and scored three times. “I’m really glad my defense stepped up and showed how it’s done.”
Taylor stepped up, as well.
After getting more carries early in games starting with last week’s rout of Lake Dallas, the junior got the Wildcats rolling early in the second quarter after their scoreless first quarter.
Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard faked a handoff to Taylor, looked downfield and then checked back down to a swing pass to the junior running back. Taylor weaved in and out of traffic, slipping through six tackles and scored from 36 yards out to give the Wildcats their first points of the night.
“We came out slow, and we had to get rolling,” Taylor said. “When I caught that pass, I kind of gave us a spark and got everyone pumped. Everyone started rolling after that.”
While the Wildcats went on a scoring spree, the Raiders, who received two votes in The Associated Press Class 4A poll, were also making big plays, something Walsh was guarding against in his team’s week of preparation.
They were led by senior wide receiver Davon Allison, who caught seven passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns for his third 200-yard receiving game of the season.
“The bad part about those big plays was we just weren’t getting lined up,” Walsh said. “It’s not that we couldn’t play with those guys, so I guess that’s good. It was disheartening to not get lined up. There was some boneheaded stuff taking place, but we weren’t just getting beat.”
Guyer matched Rider’s big plays through the air with its signature ground attack, led by Heard’s 194 yards and two touchdowns, including a 58-yarder that extended a four-point lead to 11 near the end of the third quarter. Heard also threw two touchdown passes — one to Taylor and a 28-yarder to tight end Jonathan Pershall.
“There was a lot to blame [the slow start] on, but it was just one of those things,” Heard said. “We didn’t come out right. They got out on top and that was our fault, then the offense started clicking and pushed all that aside and just came out and played our game.”
In the end, the slow start ended up not hurting the Wildcats, as they once again proved they can come back with their backs against the wall.
“We haven’t started fast all year, really,” Walsh said. “It’s kind of been our thing this year that we have to fix. We have to start quicker. Our sideline doesn’t panic, though. These guys have been behind in some big games. We just wait our turn and know it’ll come.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.
Guyer 56, Wichita Falls Rider 30
Wichita Falls Rider
WFR – Luis Trejo 42 field goal, 5:37
WFR – Davon Allison 55 pass from Chase London (Trejo kick), 3:22
G – Anthony Taylor 36 pass from Jerrod Heard (Brad Grems kick), 10:35
G – Jonathan Pershall 28 pass from Heard (Grems kick), 7:32
WFR – Allison 37 pass from London (Trejo kick), 6:42
G – Taylor 7 run (Grems kick), 3:09
G – Heard 3 run (Grems kick), 0:21
WFR – Josh Hatch 46 run (Trejo kick), 9:53
G – Heard 58 run (Grems kick), 3:05
WFR – Allison 81 pass from London (pass failed), 9:22
G – Taylor 23 run (Grems kick), 6:23
G – D.J. Breedlove 1 run (Grems kick), 4:03
G – Breedlove 32 run (Grems kick), 2:20
Rushing – G: Jerrod Heard 24-194, D.J. Breedlove 15-101, Anthony Taylor 12-91. WFR: Carlos Fleeks 10-41, Quartez Carter 5-44, Chase London 5-21, Sam Scribner 1-4, Davon Allison 1-(-3), Josh Hatch 3-43.
Passing – G: Jerrod Heard 8-16-0-117. WFR: Chase London 16-28-2-291.
Receiving – G: David Haynes 3-31, D.J. Breedlove 2-10, Anthony Taylor 1-36, Jonathan Pershall 1-28, Tyler Smith 1-12. WFR: Davon Allison 7-225, T.J. Vasher 4-42, Carlos Fleeks 2-8, Hunter Robertson 2-11, Quartez Carter 1-5.