Knights find their mojo in fourth quarter to triumph over Tivy

After three tight quarters, offense, defense find another gear as Mac wins, 23-15, making long bus ride home much more enjoyable


Charlie Partheymuller

INTERCEPTION RECEPTION: Ez Guenther and Tino Rodriguez celebrate Guenther’s win-sealing interception late in the fourth quarter. On the play before that, safety Jake Hissey nearly came up with the game-winning interception off a deflected pass, but he was inches out of bounds. But luckily for Hissey, Guenther came up with that win-sealing interception on the next play, and the offense was able to kneel the rest of the time out. “That’s what football’s all about, those game changing, game saving plays that you do for your teammates,” Guenther said. The Knights have a bye week next week, but face Marble Falls on the road again on Oct. 1.

Heading into the last non-district game the Knights were 1-2 after a great win over their rivals, the Anderson Trojans but back-to-back losses to the Lehman Lobos and the Connally Cougars set them back. Going into this game against the Kerrville Tivy Antlers, two very important things happened before the game even kicked off.

First, the Knights got a big boost to their defense with senior safety Jake Hissey returning from a wrist injury.

“It was great to be back out there,” Hissey said. “My wrist wasn’t hurting at all with the cast, and it didn’t interfere at all with my play.”

Second, the Knights also had to make the two and a half hour bus drive up to Kerrville making sure to get to the field extra early to stretch and warm up a little more than usual after sitting for so long.

It was great to be back out there. My wrist wasn’t hurting at all with the cast and it didn’t interfere at all with my play.”

— Jake Hissey

The offenses for both teams had sluggish starts, as if both had just gotten off the bus after a two and a half hour road trip. After the first two drives ended in three and outs for both teams, Tivy struck first with a 50-yard touchdown pass down the right-hand side with just under five minutes remaining in the quarter. Ending the quarter on a good note, with their offense driving, the Knights got a crucial third down conversion to cross midfield with a pass from quarterback Jaxon Rosales to fullback Brock Fanning. 

The second quarter picked up with the Knights offense on the Antlers’s 24-yard line and, after a few failed rushing attempts, wide receiver Nate Davidson came up huge with a 20-yard reception on fourth down.

“That was always our plan in the red zone,” Davidson said. “We wanted our run game to open up the passes downfield and it definitely worked.”

Once inside the Antlers’ 5-yard line the Knights weren’t able to convert for a touchdown but still walked away with three points after a Silvio Guzman field goal from 18 yards out. Tivy kept their 7-3 lead into the half as both teams had drives ending in punts to end the first half. 

DAVIDSON GETS THE CALL – Whether the Knights are in within the red zone or it’s a fourth down call, wide receiver Nate Davidson is always the first option. “I love getting the call in the red zone,” Davidson said. This clutch score by Davidson was his second touchdown of the season, with his first coming in the Knight victory in the Taco Shack bowl. (Charlie Partheymuller)

Wyatt Cunningham brought the spark the team needed to get going in the second half, taking the opening kickoff out to the 50-yard line. Rosales kept the drive alive with a fourth-down conversion off of a quarterback run, but on the ensuing play running back Colby Napier attempted to hurdle a defender but ended up fumbling the ball to the Antlers on their own 20-yard line. After a tackle for loss by Hissey and an Antlers punt, the Knights put together a drive of over six minutes in length, of which ended with a Nate Davidson touchdown reception from within the 5-yard line. The Knights would only have a 9-7 lead going into the final quarter as the extra point was missed after a botched snap and a resulting missed kick to the left. But the quarter didn’t end on that sour note for the team, as the defense forced a punt with 45 seconds left in the third and running back Thomas Lonsdale brought the offense to the Tivy 41-yard line after a 36-yard rush. 

Everything fell into place for the Knights in the final quarter. The offense continued striving as Rosales ran in a touchdown only two minutes into the quarter, extending the lead to 16-7. The defense fed off of the offense’s energy as linebacker’s Tino Rodriguez and Colby Napier each got sacks on the Antlers’s next drive.

“When everything’s clicking like that and the offense and defense are feeding off of each other, it’s truly just football in its finest form,” safety Ez Guenther said about the defensive stops. The Antlers ended up punting the ball, and after another connection between Rosales and Fanning, Rosales ran in his second touchdown of the night from the 1-yard line, extending their lead once again now to 23-7. 

If we didn’t end up winning that game, that would’ve been a bad bus ride back. But we ended up winning and we were amped up and it was a fun two hour ride back”

— Jake Hissey

It took Tivy only 29 seconds to respond to the 23 unanswered points the Knights had been racking up, as they scored on a 20-yard pass down the middle of the field. The Antlers also converted their two point try on a fade route to cut the Knights lead down to just one score at 23-15 with just over four minutes left to play. Offensively the Knights played out the game smart and safe draining the clock down to a minute and a half remaining before punting the ball back to the Antlers with no timeouts remaining. It was time for the defense to step up and shine, and shine they did. On the first play of the drive Hissey intercepted the ball off of a deflection but his catch was ruled out of bounds by the referees. While Hissey argued that he was in bounds for his interception, he and fellow safety Guenther combined for the game-winning interception on the very next play as Hissey deflected the ball right into Guenther’s hands.

CAPTAINS AT TWILIGHT: Seniors Ez Guenther, Jake Hissey, Jaxon Rosales and Johan Holmes lineup for the coin toss before their last non-district game against the Kerrville Tivy Antlers. For Hissey, it was his first game back after suffering a wrist injury before the team’s marquee matchup against the Anderson Trojans. Despite wearing a cast that prompted the opposing coaches to urge their offensive skill players to run at “the one-armed safety,” Hissey held his own, nearly making an interception to seal the victory on the play before Guenther succeeded in doing the same. The Knights went on to beat Tivy 23-15 in a game that despite Tivy’s 0-4 record, they were not favored to win. Caption by Thomas Melina Raab. (Dave Winter)

“I was definitely in bounds, but it’s all good as we got it on the next play,” Hissey said. “I knocked it into his hands is all I have to say.”

Guenther said, “It was like one of those feelings that nothing could’ve gone any better. That’s what it’s all about, the game-saving and game-changing plays where you put everything out there on the line.”

The offense came back out in victory formation to kneel the rest of the time out to cement their hard-fought 23-15 win.

“If we didn’t end up winning that game, that would’ve been a bad bus ride back,” Hissey said. “But we ended up winning and we were amped up and it was a fun two hour ride back.” 

This was the Knights last game before district play kicks off on Friday on the road against Marble Falls. Before their next game against the Mustangs, the Knights luckily enjoyed a bye week, for which many players were grateful.

“We feel great about heading into district play with the momentum from this game,” Davidson said, “but the rest and extra practice was definitely necessary.”