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Cedar Park Shuts Down Vandegrift Late

Steve Thomas

photo: Stephen Thomas

Timberwolves now in control of District 25-5A

The #2 Cedar Park Timberwolves took a major step toward securing the District 25-5A crown Friday night with a 58-45 win over their district foe the #7 Leander Vandegrift Vipers at Gupton Stadium. Both teams entered the game undefeated at 6-0 with the winner likely being the favorite to win the district.

While Vandegrift looked to the better team for much of the game, it seemed that every time the Vipers looked ready to pull away, the Timberwolves had a response. To open the game, senior running back Travis Brannan returned the game’s opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to give Vandegrift a 7-0 lead. On the ensuing Cedar Park drive, the Timberwolves used a fake punt to convert on fourth-down-and-eight... only to fumble the ball a few plays later. The miscue gave the Vipers the ball at the Cedar Park 31-yard line. Fortunately for the Timberwolves, their defense held the normally potent Viper offense to -5 yards and forced Vandegrift to punt.

After the two sides traded three-and-out possessions, Cedar Park used a heavy dose of the ground game culminating in a two-yard touchdown run by senior running back William Richter to get on the scoreboard. The Vipers, however, blocked the extra-point attempt and maintained a 7-6 lead late in the first quarter. Travis Brannan found pay dirt again on a 63-yard touchdown run on the ensuing Vandegrift drive to extend the Vipers’ lead to 14-6.

Travis Brannan

Cedar Park RB/WR - Jack Grimm

After a sluggish start to Cedar Park’s next possession, junior running back Tyler Lavine found the end zone on a 58-yard touchdown run to narrow Vandegrift’s lead to 14-13.

Early in the second quarter, the Timberwolves took their first lead of the night as senior linebacker Ryan Franklin intercepted Vandegrift quarterback Alex Fernandes’ pass and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown. Vandegrift, however, wasted little time responding on the ensuing drive as Fernandes connected with senior wide receiver Paxton Segina for a 77-yard touchdown pass to put the Vipers back in front 21-20.

Following a Cedar Park fumble at the Timberwolves’ 34-yard line, Travis Brannan found the end zone for the third time to extend the Vandegrift lead to 35-20. Cedar Park, in turn, trimmed the Vandegrift lead to 35-28 on the ensuing possession as Tyler Lavine scored his second touchdown of the evening on a 48-yard catch.

A safety resulting from a bad snap over the punter’s head on the next Vandegrift drive narrowed the gap even further to 35-30 in favor of the Vipers. Sophomore quarterback Mak Sexton connected with Richter on a 25-yard touchdown pass to put Cedar Park back in front 37-35 in this see-saw battle going into halftime.

Vandegrift held the Timberwolves to three-and-out on the opening drive of the second half, and then drove the ball into Cedar Park territory. The Vipers had the ball at first-and-goal but after a penalty wiped a touchdown off the board, were forced to settle for a field goal to reclaim a 38-37 lead. Neither team was able to score the rest of the quarter. The defenses for both teams stepped up - Vandegrift stopped Cedar Park on fourth down and one and also forced a fumble while Cedar Park held Vandegrift to three-and-out and four-and-out on their drives.

Early in the fourth quarter, Cedar Park’s defense made the pivotal play of the game forcing Travis Brannan to fumble the ball for the first time this season at the Timberwolves’ 47-yard line.

Following the turnover, Tyler Lavine scored his third touchdown of the night on a two-yard scoring run to put the Timberwolves ahead 43-38 after a failed two-point conversion attempt.

Cedar Park’s defense came up big again on the ensuing Vandegrift drive forcing Fernandes to fumble the ball after a sack. Two plays later, Sexton connected with senior tight end, Sam Caster on a 13-yard touchdown that extended Cedar Park’s lead to 51-38 following a successful two-point conversion.

After a second Fernandes fumble on the Viper's drive, junior running back Hayden Craig ran the ball in for a touchdown on second-and-goal to pad Cedar Park’s lead to 58-38. Vandegrift scored a consolation touchdown on a sixteen-yard pass from Fernandes to Segina, but the Timberwolves emerged victorious 58-45.

With the win, Cedar Park improves to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in district. As mentioned, the win also likely makes the Timberwolves the favorite to win District 25-5A. Up next, the Timberwolves travel to Marble Falls (1-5-1 overall, 0-4 district.)

Vandegrift, meanwhile, falls to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in district. Next week, the Vipers will host Dripping Springs (4-3 overall, 2-2 district.)

by Steve Thomas

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