2012 season coverage

The season's final play

It’s been nearly two weeks since Pflugerville defeated Lake Travis 23-20 to knock the Cavaliers out of the playoffs in the Bi-District round, ending Lake Travis’ run of five consecutive state championships and 30 consecutive post-season wins.

The game’s climatic moments provided more than enough drama. Lake Travis took the lead on a dazzling touchdown run from Shaun Nixon, playing his first game since injuring a knee on Oct. 19 against Anderson. Pflugerville responded, converting a fourth down with a throwback screen to a receiver who hadn’t caught a pass all year. Adrian Dilworth’s touchdown gave Pflugerville the lead with 46 seconds left.

When Lake Travis took possession, it had 41 seconds to travel from its 25-yard line into field goal range to give Kevin Marcotte a chance to tie the game. Marcotte’s season long was 50 yards, set the same night Nixon hurt his knee against Anderson. To get there, Lake Travis needed to move about 45 yards, leaving time enough for a kick. It had one time out in its pocket.

“We wanted to get the ball to the perimeter and try to get out of bounds to get as many plays as we can, try to get in range where maybe we can chunk one up,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said after the game.

Mayfield hit Tyler Payne twice to gain 16 yards before spiking the ball with 25 seconds left. Lake Travis faced second down at its own 41, but backed up five yards after a false start. Grant Foster caught a quick out and got out of bounds at midfield with 20 seconds left. After an incomplete pass killed a few seconds, Nixon gained five yards and a first down at Pflugerville’s 45 with 14 seconds left.

Still holding the time out, the Cavaliers needed about 15 yards to give Marcotte a shot to tie the game. But Pflugerville’s defense didn’t give him that shot. As Mayfield took the snap, the Panthers got some pressure and forced him to scramble. As he scrambled, precious seconds went off the clock.

“They were big boys up front and they got through the line,” the quarterback said.

As Mayfield scrambled to his right, Foster saw what was happening as he ran his route on the far sideline. When Mayfield left the pocket, Foster converted his route into a deep post. He got behind the two Panthers trying to cover him on the play and broke for the end zone. Mayfield saw him, set his feet and let go with a rainbow with a foot on the midfield stripe. The ball arcs toward the end zone and Foster appears seemingly out of nowhere to snatch it.

At first glance Friday night, depending on which sideline you were sitting, it appeared that Foster caught Mayfield’s Hail Mary and got a foot down before touching the end zone’s end line. The back judge, in perfect position and looking directly at Foster and his feet, immediately and empahtically ruled the pass incomplete, indicating that Foster did not get a foot in bounds. Video, posted to Youtube by Jeff Power -- who is working on a documentary chronicling the Cavaliers' championship run, backs up the official’s live ruling.

On the field after the game, Mayfield wasn’t sure.

“We had a chance. I don’t know. I haven’t seen the replay. Maybe he caught it, maybe he didn’t. I don’t know.”

High school football doesn’t have instant replay, but assume for a moment that it had the college version of instant replay. Under that set-up, an official in the press box reviews every play and notifies the on-field officials if a play needs further review. The play certainly passes that test. It would have gotten a second look.

Because the call on the field was incomplete pass, to overturn the call, the video official would need to see indisputable video evidence to the contrary to reverse the call. In looking at the play frame-by-frame, it’s evident that Foster catches the ball. His left foot touches first. His heel appears to land inbounds but as the rest of his foot rolls to the ground, it does so on the white boundary line. In my opinion, the call would have been confirmed, or at worst the call would stand. It is very difficult to see that anyone looking objectively at the video can say there is indisputable evidence that Foster’s landed inbounds and that the call should be reversed.

*Conference Game