JUSTIN — By the time the Guyer offense got on track in Friday night’s playoff opener, the Wildcats’ ticket to the Class 4A Division I area round had been all but punched.
Despite a slow start from Guyer’s offense, thanks to a turnover and some untimely penalties, Guyer jumped on Saginaw early with opportune play from its defense and special teams on the way to a 69-7 rout of the Rough Riders in the bi-district round at Northwest ISD Stadium.
“When you can win two of the three phases of the game, you’re going to win the game,” Guyer coach John Walsh said. “Defense and special teams held the rope early in the first half, and then we finally got it going offensively and it was rolling from there.”
Guyer (9-2), the state’s seventh-ranked team in The Associated Press’ Class 4A poll and the defending state champion, will move on to face Waco (8-3) at 7 or 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mansfield’s Newsom Stadium.
After preaching to his team all week the importance of a good start against Saginaw, Walsh instead saw history repeat itself from last year’s game against the Rough Riders in the same round. In that game, Guyer led just 14-7 for much of the first half before pulling away to win 42-14.
The Wildcats’ offense was sluggish coming out of the gates, as Texas pledge Jerrod Heard threw an interception on his first pass attempt to give the Rough Riders (5-6) possession at their own 21-yard line.
But Guyer defensive end Derek Watson bailed out his quarterback on the next snap when he caught a John Polston pass tipped by the Wildcats’ Carl Thompson and returned it eight yards for a touchdown to put Guyer on the scoreboard.
“I didn’t see anything special, except for the ball in the air,” Watson said. “I just went for it. Carl tipped it, and I just got it. On the sideline it was a huge momentum shift for us. It got us going in the right direction and got everyone started.”
Just one offensive snap later for Guyer, the Wildcats were back on the scoreboard.
D.J. Breedlove returned a punt 73 yards on Saginaw’s ensuing possession to the Rough Riders’ 2-yard line, and Heard punched it in on the next play for a 14-0 lead with only 25 yards of total offense.
“D.J.’s punt return was great,” Walsh said. “He was untouched, which means the blocking was really good. Special teams got us set up there.”
After the slow start, Guyer’s offense got on track in the second quarter and Heard rebounded from his early blunder after going late into the second quarter before completing his first pass. The defending Class 4A Division I championship game MVP finished his 2013 postseason debut with 70 rushing yards, including a 47-yard touchdown run, and threw three touchdown passes with 163 yards on 8-of-13 passing in just more than a half of action.
“I hardly ever chew him out,” Walsh said of his star quarterback. “I chewed him out pretty good on the sideline after that pick. He found me at halftime and said ‘I wish you’d chew me out a little more. I kind of responded better.’ So he might get about five more chewings over these next five weeks [in the playoffs].”
Two of Heard’s touchdown passes went to junior wide receiver Alex Honey, who scored on back-to-back possessions for the Wildcats to close out the half with receptions of 34 and 7 yards. Honey finished the game with four catches for 91 yards, while junior running back Anthony Taylor scored twice on the ground.
“Once we got a taste of the end zone, we were going to start rolling again,” Heard said. “That’s all we needed.”
Guyer’s defense forced numerous three-and-out drives for Saginaw and allowed just nine first downs on the night before the second-team unit allowed a 71-yard touchdown run by Maleek Tarver in the fourth quarter for the Rough Riders’ only points. Aside from that play, Guyer held the Rough Riders to less than 200 total yards.
Thompson added his own interception in the second quarter to set up another easy Guyer scoring drive, while sophomore backup Tevin McAdams became the third defensive lineman of the night with an interception. Like Watson, McAdams made his count with a 48-yard touchdown return to open the fourth-quarter scoring.
“I’ve never been a part of three defensive linemen getting interceptions and two of them running them back for touchdowns,” Walsh said. “That’s definitely a first.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.
Guyer 69, Saginaw 7
DG — Derek Watson 8 interception return (Brad Grems kick)
DG — Jerrod Heard 2 run (Brad Grems kick)
DG — Jerrod Heard 47 run (Brad Grems kick)
DG — Anthony Taylor 4 run (run failed)
DG — Alex Honey 34 pass from Jerrod Heard (Brad Grems kick)
DG — Alex Honey 7 pass from Jerrod Heard (Brad Grems kick)
DG — David Haynes 24 pass from Jerrod Heard (Brad Grems kick)
DG — Anthony Taylor 5 run (Brad Grems kick)
DG — Tevin McAdams 48 interception return (Brad Grems kick)
SW — Maleek Tarver 71 run (Mauricio Rodriguez kick)
DG — David Haynes 61 run (Brad Grems kick)
Rushing — DG: Jerrod Heard 10-70, David Haynes 2-68, DJ Breedlove 5-59, Anthony Taylor 6-39, David Rolon 1-9, Collin Clayton 2-7, SW: Jaylen King 14-85, Maleek Tarver 9-80, Jermaine Lewis 3-27, John Polston 6-6, James Benz-Roberts 1-3, Nick Quintanilla 2-2, Brandon Ventura 1-1.
Passing — DG: Jerrod Heard 8-13-1-163, David Haynes 1-1-0-22, SW: John Polston 5-14-2-41, Brandon Ventura 2-5-1-24.
Receiving — DG: Alex Honey 4-91, David Haynes 1-24, Tripp Reed 1-22, DJ Breedlove 1-19, Jonathan Pershall 1-17, Tyler Smith 1-12, SW: Aaron Tshienda 2-33, Nick Quintanilla 1-16, Austin Wright 3-10, Brandon Ventura 1-6.