With Deer Park holding a five-point lead late in the third quarter and threatening to make it a two-score advantage with the ball and second down on the Taylor 1-yard line, Trevor Woods saw it coming.
Taylor’s junior safety watched the Deer line up and run something they hadn’t all game.
“I saw the motion going out,” Woods said. “He (quarterback Matthew Potts) dropped back and made it obvious he was throwing it there. When they motioned over there, you could tell what they were doing.”
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Woods beat the ball to 5-foot-7, 150-pound receiver Marcus Molina, leaping in front of Molina and darting 100 eventful yards the other way for a touchdown and the final lead change of the game, as the Mustangs scored the final 36 points to turn a nail-biter into a rout of Deer Park, 65-34, on Saturday, Sept. 14, at Legacy Stadium.
“That was absolutely huge. It sparked us,” Taylor coach Chad Simmons said. “It flipped momentum. It flipped the game. It wasn’t the only play, obviously, but it definitely shifted momentum and gave us what we needed.”
The play helped Taylor (2-1) to its second consecutive win and handed Deer Park (2-1) its first loss.
“It was huge. You saw what happened after,” Woods said. “We blew up and went crazy. It changed everything. I love making those plays. It’s awesome.”
The 100-yard return was far from easy.
Woods admitted he got exhausted during the spree, though he didn’t recall at what point, and Molina, to his credit, almost caught him at around the Deer Park 17. But Molina’s lunge was for naught. Woods gave a little high-step to fully elude him and sprinted into the end zone.
“That was the longest 100 yards of my life,” Woods said, laughing. “I was just looking up at the video on the scoreboard, watching. I thought he was going to get me.”
Gavin Belue converted the two-point conversion with a nice catch from Dalton Burden for a 37-34 Taylor lead. A little more than five minutes of game time later, Griffin Dougherty hauled in a gorgeous 22-yard touchdown catch.
And in a matter of 80 seconds, from 9:50 left in the fourth quarter to 8:30 left, buoyed by a pair of back-to-back picks from Taylor’s defense, Belue scored on a 10-yard pass, Marcus Grant took in a 13-yard pass for a score, and Cecil Ivey Jr. added a 40-yard pick-6 for the final score of the night.
Burden, who threw for 181 yards and two touchdowns and added 53 rushing yards and another score, said Woods’ play lifted spirits.
“If I’m being honest, it was huge,” he said. “Everybody’s head was down, and we were trying to keep them up on the sideline. After that happened, momentum just completely changed. We went out there, scored and then it made them (Deer Park) put their heads down.”
.@TaylorMustangFB senior QB @DaltonBurden discusses his team's 65-34 win over Deer Park tonight. Burden threw for 181 yards and two TDs and rushed for 53 yards and a TD. #txhsfb @KatyISDAthletic @THS_Mustangs pic.twitter.com/ShfT9zs3tV— Dennis Silva II (@densilva2) September 15, 2019
Woods had two interceptions as a sophomore and starter last season. The pick-6 was his first interception of this season, though he does have 3.0 sacks, a fumble recovery and fumble caused.
He said the experience he gained last year was vital.
“I have a lot more confidence,” Woods said. “It’s crazy how much more confident I am. I wasn’t great at coverage last year, and it’s what I really worked on all summer. I’m just trying to let it pay off.”
“He has that year of experience, and that’s the big thing,” Simmons said. “He knows now how to recognize things. He has an idea what’s coming, just like that break on that pass. It’s great instincts, which he has.”
The Mustangs totaled 446 total yards of offense, 262 rushing. They had six takeaways, but that’s not too surprising for a program built upon defense.
It’s the offense that encouraged. Burden completed 14 of 20 passes for 181 yards. Dougherty caught five passes for 58 yards and a score. Casey Shorter had 88 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Renan Baeta connected on field goals of 30, 24 and 36 yards, respectively, and six of seven extra-point attempts.
“Offensively, we came alive and did some things we thought we could do,” Simmons said. “We made big plays, maintained drives. Our offense being consistent and quite a bit explosive was huge. Now you can’t load the box as much and we’ve got those good linemen, good running backs and good scheme and it all fits together.”
The offense fed off the defense in this one. Complementary football, as Simmons likes to say. Buoyed by Woods’ electric highlight.
“It gives us the utmost confidence to go out there and dominate,” Dougherty said about the effect of Woods’ play. “It makes us want to repay the defense for making such an awesome play. Our mindset was to just dominate the ball on both sides.”