(Editor’s note: Due to production problems, this story was not able to run in print in the weekend issue of the Kerrville Daily Times)
FREDERICKSBURG— During the final moments of Tivy’s 42-35 victory over Fredericksburg, while the 1,500 Tivy fans at Billies’ stadium hollered for the Antlers’ defense to earn one more stop, senior receiver Brooks McCoy rested on the bench with a cold towel wrapped over his head.
For 46:30 minutes on Friday, McCoy had done everything he could to help the Antlers stave off Fredericksburg’s upset attempt, hauling in eight receptions for 188 yards and three touchdowns. But he wasn’t able to finish the final 90 seconds. McCoy left the game with a head injury after a head-on collision with Fredericksburg defensive back Jarrett Beard on a post route on third-and-five.
Beard was ejected for targeting, and Tivy had another chance to take the lead with 1st-and-10 at the Billies’ 32-yard line with 1:29 remaining in the game.
“That really got everyone going,” senior quarterback Trapper Pannell said of the targeting penalty. “I think that got our blood pumping.”
Pannell and the Antlers’ promptly ensured McCoy’s individual performance didn’t go to waste.
Pannell charged 22 yards down the right sideline. The next play, he raced 10 yards down the left sideline for the go-ahead touchdown with 1:12 to go in the game.
The defense rose to the occasion in the final 90 seconds too. The Billies reached Tivy’s 47-yard line, but didn’t get any closer to the end zone. Senior linebacker Regan Robertson disrupted Frederickburg’s hook-and-ladder attempt on fourth-and-10, pounced on the fumble, and the Antlers escaped Fredericksburg with their first win of the season, giving head coach David Jones his 100th career victory. His players dosed him with a Gatorade bath moments after the victory.
“This is why you coach,” Jones said. “The crowd was awesome on both sides of the field. It’s a true testament to the kids fight and the TFND spirit. It was a great night. … I am proud of the kids. Golly, they fought hard. That was a great win for us. We needed this really bad.”
The Billies (1-1) made the Antlers (1-1) earn the victory. It was an emotional week for the Billies. Offensive lineman Travis Cates’ father, Tom Cates, passed away from cancer earlier this week. The Antlers presented Travis and his mom, Erin Cates, with a gift basket before kickoff, and wore Travis’ number No.77 on their helmets.
When kickoff arrived, Fredericksburg played with emotion, pushing Tivy to the brink. All week, Tivy’s defensive coaches had complimented Beard’s playmaking ability. It wasn’t just empty praise, either. Beard didn’t disappoint on Friday, collecting 196 total yards and three touchdowns to fuel Fredericksburg’s upset bid. His 33-yard touchdown run propelled the Billies to 7-0 lead with 5:22 remaining in the first quarter.
“Tonight, they obviously brought their A-game,” senior defensive end Gonzalo Hernandez said. “I know one of their players had lost his father. That was probably a big factor. They obviously wanted to win this game because they stuck with us the whole night.
“But in the end, we wanted it more.”
Hernandez set up Tivy’s first touchdown, punching the football out of Dylan Ahrens’ hands. Safety Coleson Abel pounced on the fumble, giving the Antlers the ball at Fredericksburg’s 42-yard line.
Pannell tied the game six plays later with a five-yard pass to Fisher Middleton.
Quarterback Cole Miears (8 of 11 for 136 yards and two touchdowns) and Brooks McCoy then paired up to give the Antlers’ their first lead. With 5:06 remaining, Miears found McCoy open on a slant route. His receiver did the rest, throwing a defender to the turf and strolling into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown. Miears connected with McCoy on a slant route again in the third quarter. This time, for a 62-yard touchdown, giving the Antlers a 21-14 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Billies capitalized on injuries in Tivy’s secondary. Ahrens escaped a few tackles to scamper for a 29-yard touchdown to spot Fredericksburg a 35-28 lead with 10:35 remaining.
McCoy, though, quickly helped the Antlers regain momentum on their next possession. He snagged a 15-yard reception to move the ball to midfield. After the catch, Fredericksburg’s safety slung to McCoy to ground, ripping off his helmet after the official had ruled the play dead. Still, no official tossed a flag, incensing the Tivy crowd. While the fans booed, McCoy calmly trotted to the sidelines. When he returned to the game, he zipped past his defender to haul in a 60-yard reception from Pannell (20 of 32 for 220 yards and two touchdowns, 63 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries).
“They hit a little late,” McCoy said. “It made me a little angry, but I just got back up, got back to the line and did my thing. I have good quarterbacks and good teammates out there supporting me.”
And when he left the game in the final 90 seconds, his teammates made sure to seal the win.
“Throughout the night, we had some things happen to us that could really put us in a bad frame of mind,” Jones said. “We just kept fighting, kept plugging.
“Golly, what a game.”