With fourth-down stops, potent ground attack, Knights outlast Grizzlies in overtime to take bi-district title

McCallum avenges two earlier regular-season losses to Leander Glenn by beating them in 5A state playoffs


Charley Partheymuller

With this bi-district win (and group photo with trophy) the Knights move on to play Alamo Heights for the area title. “Win next week, that’s our goal,” Rosales said.

Charlie Partheymuller, Knight sports editor

The Leander Glenn Grizzlies have had the Knights’ number in recent matchups with two regular-season wins in the past four years. Senior Lukas Bednar reflected on the last time the Knights played the Grizzlies, when he was a small sophomore.

We knew we could win this game, all we had to do was show it.”

— senior quarterback Jaxon Rosales

“It was a good back-and-forth game two years ago,” Bednar said. “They were definitely a good team then, but I know we’ve also gotten better since then.”

Luckily for the Knights, they hosted the Grizzlies at House Park because the Knights finished second in district compared to Glenn finishing third in theirs. 

The game couldn’t have started any better for the Knights as the offense and defense were both clicking. Thomas Lonsdale took the responsibility of being the bell cow back for the opening drive and helped punch in a short yardage touchdown, while the defense followed suit forcing a fumble and recovery by Tino Rodriguez to give the ball right back to the offense.

After Colby Napier converted fourth-and-1 close to the Knight end zone, Thomas Lonsdale punched it in for the game’s first score. Photo by Charlie Partheymuller. Video by Dave Winter.

To cap off this electrifying start, quarterback Jaxon Rosales found receiver Rylan Varela down the right sideline for their second touchdown of the game not even seven minutes in.

“This start was super energizing for us and helped our play throughout the first quarter,” Bednar said. “All the pieces finally fell into place giving us this great head start.”

First time ever for this group of players to make the second round, I’m just so excited.”

— senior defensive back Jake Hissey

Unfortunately Glenn finally woke up scoring a 66-yard rushing touchdown on their first play of their next drive. After a few adventurous punts by both teams, the Knight defense held strong, creating another fumble. Cal Dunham recovered the fumble to end the first quarter.

The second quarter slowed down a lot for both teams, as the Knights had two punts and the Grizzlies had a punt and another fumble. Following the turnover though, the offense was on an unstoppable mission of scoring before half as a pass interference call and a fourth down conversion kept their drive alive before Lonsdale punched in his second touchdown of the game.
David Houston’s fourth down conversion was also no ordinary catch, the ball bobbled in the air a few times before Houston was able to secure the catch off of the defenders name plate. Finally to wrap up this almost perfect start for the Knights, the defense held the Grizzlies again before halftime to keep their two touchdown lead going into half.

David Houston’s fourth-down circus catch kept the Knights’ drive alive late in the second quarter. Lonsdale would finish the drive with his second touchdown of the game to make it 21-7 Knights heading into halftime. Video by Dave Winter.

Glenn definitely kicked it up a few notches with the turn of the quarters. The Grizzlies drove down the field quickly, but the Knights stuffed them in the red zone to only allow a field goal. The Knights endured more shots as they punted after only three downs and the Grizzlies ran in another score and two-point conversion to bring them within three points at 21-18.

You don’t really realize how big of a play you made until it’s over. You just go as hard as you can each play and great things will happen.”

— senior safety Ez Guenther

The Knights offense softened the blow, picking up two first downs on the next drive and milking the clock into the fourth quarter before punting. 

Defense defined the rest of the game for both teams. Both teams punted until, on the Grizzlies second drive of the quarter still down three with five minutes left they decided to go for it on fourth down in Knight territory. Rodriguez made that decision costly as he made the tackle for a loss in the backfield keeping the Knights’ lead safe temporarily.

“While it felt great getting the stop, I knew we still had game to play,” Rodriguez said.

With the stop the offense wasted some more clock but unfortunately gave the ball back to the Grizzlies with just over two minutes left in the game. Of course the fate of the game would rely on the defense that had held strong all year. And hold strong they would as on third and one from the red zone, Ez Guenther combined with other Knight defenders to hold them to fourth down and a game-tying field goal.

“You don’t really realize how big of a play you made until it’s over,” Guenther said. “You just go as hard as you can each play and great things will happen, and thankfully I was going 110% on that play.”

With the made field goal the game was tied at 21 points a piece heading into overtime. 

Similar to the goal line stand he made in the Taco Shack Bowl to begin the season, senior safety Ez Guenther, came up big for the Knights again combining with other Knight defenders to get the third-down stop. “It just worked out, the cards fell our way and it felt great,” Guenther said. (Dave Winter)

In high school football, overtime is played with each team getting at least one possession of the ball on offense starting on the opponents 25-yard line. Glenn ended up starting on offense and picked up a first down but struggled once they got inside the 15-yard line.

Fourth down game on the line, that’s what it’s all about. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

— senior linebacker Tino Rodriguez

In a fairy tale ending the Knights defense pulled out another fourth down stop with only inches to go for the first down. “It doesn’t get any better than that,” Rodriguez explained. “Fourth down game on the line, that’s what it’s all about.”

With the Grizzlies unable to put any points on the board the Knights only needed a field goal to win the game, but they had six points on their mind the whole time. The Knights kept the ball on the ground the whole drive as Lonsdale picked up the first down on a third and four rush. With the moving of the sticks Rosales ran in the game winning score right through the heart of the Glenn defense. “We knew we could win this game, all we had to do was show it,” Rosales said.

After the Knights held the Grizzlies’ scoreless on their overtime possession with a fourth-down stop, quarterback Jaxon Rosales put the exclamation point on the Knights’ bi-district playoff triumph with a walk-off touchdown run to make the final score, 27-21. Photo by Charlie Partheymuller. Video by Dave Winter. 

The now bi-district champion Knights take on the Alamo Heights Mules for the area title this coming Friday in New Braunfels. The Knights get a huge boost to their defense just in time for the game as senior defensive back Jake Hissey will return from injury. “I’m just looking forward to playing,” Hissey said. “First time ever for this group of players to make the second round, I’m just so excited.”