With 2:18 left in the third quarter, the George West Longhorns took a 32-17 lead when sophomore running back Carlos Serrano barreled into the end zone, but the Goliad Tigers scored 22 straight in a wild seesaw battle that wasn’t decided until the final 27 seconds.
When the smoke cleared, the visiting Tigers fended off a last-minute scoring drive to hold onto a 43-40 victory that left the Longhorns wondering what might have been.
George West appeared to take control of the game with 1:27 left when Weston Rhodes plunged into the end zone and then added the two-point conversion run to put the Longhorns ahead 40-37. The play was set up by a clutch fourth-and-4 conversion by Steven Gonzales that kept the Horns’ hopes alive.
However, one play later Goliad’s Jesse Martinez grabbed the kickoff and raced 60 yards to the end zone with 1:14 remaining to put the Tigers back on top. Although the kick failed, George West had its back to the wall.
With 56 seconds left, starting GW quarterback Jake Snider was shaken up and had to leave the field for a play. Backup quarterback Tegan Collins, a freshman, completed a pass to Jessie Burch for 17 yards to move the ball to the Goliad 48.
Snider came back in and completed two more passes to Burch to move the ball to the Goliad 29-yard line.
With 27 seconds left in the game, Goliad’s Reese Ruhnke intercepted the ball and the Tigers were able to run out the clock.
Goliad struck first on a 12-yard sweep with 7:13 in the first quarter and added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
With 4:23 in the first quarter, GW got on the scoreboard with a TD plunge up the middle, but the kick failed. The Longhorns struck again with 1:45 left in the quarter as Ashton Humphrey hauled in a long pass from Snider, and the two-point conversion try was stopped short.
George West scored again with 9:30 in the half when Burch caught an 8-yard TD pass from Snider for an 18-7 lead. The extra point attempt was fumbled, and Goliad scooped up the ball and ran it all the way for a two-point play, cutting the Longhorns’ lead to 18-9.
Goliad didn’t waste time starting the second half scoring, as Martinez sprinted 61 yards for the Tigers on a second-and-15 play and also added a two-point conversion pass with 10:37 in the third quarter, leaving George West up 18-17.
GW began its offensive onslaught with 5:48 in the third quarter on a 22-yard strike by Snider followed by Tom Umphres’ extra point for a 25-17 lead.
After the Longhorns and Tigers traded turnovers, GW scored again on a fourth-and-1 play as Serrano scored.
But Goliad unleashed some offensive fireworks of its own. After recovering their own fumble, the Tigers took advantage and Martinez hauled in a 12-yard TD pass from Ruhnke. Demetrius Steptoe ran into the end zone on the two-point conversion with 27 seconds left in the third quarter.
On a third-and-28 play deep in their own territory, the Tigers struck again as Ruhnke completed a long touchdown pass to Joseph Council. GW’s Justin Fowler sacked the quarterback on the two-point conversion try, keeping the Horns on top 32-31.
The Horns experienced disaster on their next drive, as a pass was deflected and intercepted by Goliad’s Martinez, who ran up the middle and past all GW defenders en route to a 48-yard TD with 6:13 left in the game. The two-point conversion pass play failed, but Goliad led 37-32.
That set up the wild finish that ended with a Goliad win.
“I’m proud of the way you fought, but we gave up a lead at the end of the third quarter and let them have the momentum,” George West coach Bobby Nicholson told his players after the game. “We’re going to fix the mistakes. I am tired of all the learning experiences. We scored enough points to win, but we didn’t win.
“We’re going to come back and turn things around. When we have a lead we can’t let up, and when the other team is successful, we can’t get down. We’ve got a tough game against Mathis and we better be ready. We’re close, but we have to close it out.”
Barring an interruption by COVID-19 or some other circumstance, either the Longhorns or the Mathis Pirates will earn their first win of the 2021 football season on Sept. 17. The Pirates are 0-3, with a 15-10 loss to Ingleside, a 33-22 loss to Odem and a 24-20 defeat at the hands of Karnes City.