MANSFIELD, Texas -- For a moment, it wasn’t quarterback and head coach, but rather father and son sharing an embrace after a special play in the season’s biggest game.
Denton Guyer quarterback J.W. Walsh fired a frozen rope of a 30-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Hunter in the right corner of the end zone to give the Wildcats the lead for good in the final seconds of the first half.
When the quarterback came off the field, he was met by his father, Guyer head coach John Walsh.
"J.W. is expected to make plays, but to see him do it like that is special for a dad,’’ the coach said. "Sometimes, it is hard not to be a dad in that situation."
With the momentum generated by the final touchdown before the break, Guyer went on to defeat Southlake Carroll, 24-14, Saturday in a Class 5A Division II Region I final at Vernon Newsom Stadium.
The quarterback has played in windy conditions before and has learned a lesson.
"With the wind at your back, you can’t afford to lay the ball up,’" the Oklahoma State pledge said. “We needed that touchdown before half.’’
Guyer (12-2) advances to meet the winner of the Region II final between Mesquite Horn and Longview in a state semifinal, scheduled for next Saturday at SMU.
For Carroll (10-4,) it was the deepest playoff run since the Dragons' 2006 state title. The Dragons played without injured running back Paul Stevenson.
Walsh competed 12 of 16 passes for 150 yards and also scored Guyer’s final touchdown on a 13 yard run.
But the most crucial plays came on the final drive of the first half when the Wildcats went 69 yards after a Carroll punt and needed only five plays and 46 seconds of clock time. Walsh had a 29-yard connection to Conner Crane to set up the scoring pass.
"Any score before halftime can be a turning point," Carroll coach Hal Wasson said. "We knew Guyer had the ingredients to be a special team, especially that quarterback. They have no weaknesses.’"
Going into the wind, Guyer chewed up a great deal of the third quarter clock with a 14-play drive, even though it resulted in the Wildcats' only turnover. Walsh was hit and fumbled at the Carroll 1 and Carroll's Tanner Jacobson recovered in the end zone.
"If anybody had to fumble, I'm glad it was J.W. because he knows how to handle it,’" John Walsh said.
When Guyer got the ball back at midfield early in the fourth quarter with the wind at is back, it put the game away with on a 3-yard touchdown run by Treavon Walton. Walsh kept the drive alive with a third-down conversion pass to Quintavia Gardener in tight quarters.
Walsh’s 22-yard keeper set up his own 13-yard scoring run with 2:26 to go for a 24-7 lead.
Carroll added a late score on a 12-yard pass from Kenny Hill to Peyton Williams. The two also combined for the first score of the game, a 28-yard hookup on Carroll’s opening possession.
Guyer closed to 7-3 on a 22-yard field goal by Josh King after the longest drive of the half, 75 yards and 14 plays.
Guyer reached the state semifinals for the third straight year. The last two times, the Wildcats have lost to Longview in the Class 4A playoffs.
"We’re tired of being here and not going all the way," John Walsh said. "Our advantage this year is we are healthy."
For Carroll, the playoff wins were icing on the cake.
"Even if we hadn’t won a playoff game, being around these kids has made me stronger," Wasson said. "They didn’t make excuses and stayed focused on what was important."