Heartbreak again: Roy loses 1st-round football playoff game in final seconds to Westlake
ROY — Unbelievably, for the second year in a row, Roy lost a home 6A first-round playoff football game in the closing seconds.
Last year the Royals gave up an 89-yard kickoff return, beginning at the 12.5-second mark, to fall to West and on Friday, a 26-yard field goal with 11.5 seconds left sent them to heartbreak hotel yet again.
Senior Westlake kicker Cooper Cowan calmly split the east uprights, capping a 71-yard, 2-minute clutch drive, and sending the Royals down in a devastating 30-28 loss.
“We were down one because I missed that PAT in the third quarter; I was just trying to focus on my job. It just comes down to kicking that ball,” Cowan said. “I was trying to block everything out, ignore the pressure. It’s every kicker’s dream to make a kick like that. So it was awesome.”
Roy senior quarterback Parker Kingston appeared to have won the game just moments earlier when he scored on 49-yard dash with 2:12 left in the final frame. Kicker Britton Watts made the extra point and Roy took a 28-27 lead.
“They knew we were going to try and throw it; we had to go down and score,” Kingston said. “Our line blocked it and there was a wide-open hole so I took it. I wouldn’t have got there if our receivers weren’t blocking for me downfield.
“This senior (loss) hurts more, just to know my high school year is done. Last year I knew I had one more year to play,” Kingston said.
The Thunder had possession of the ball for 10 minutes, 23 seconds in the fourth quarter, but the Roy defense stopped Westlake on fourth down on a fake punt late in the game and the Royals took over at the Westlake 49 with 2:24 remaining.
With 12 seconds being the theme, Kingston raced through the Westlake (4-7) secondary and scored what surely would be the winning score, but it was not to be.
“It’s a tough deal. If we make one or two more plays, defensively on the last drive … but that doesn’t happen,” Roy coach Fred Fernandes said. “I feel bad for our seniors, but they made some of the mistakes that cost us the game as well.”
Senior running back Kanyon Lee tallied three of the Westlake touchdowns, on a pair of 1-yarders and a 10-yard burst.
After holding Westlake scoreless in the first quarter, the Royals gave up a trio of touchdowns in the second stanza and trailed at the break 21-14.
Roy (7-4) rode the heroics of Kingston and Ethan Ecker for its two scores.
After a missed Thunder field goal try, Kingston engineered an 80-yard, six-play drive in only 2 minutes, 27 seconds, that ended in a 24-yard touchdown pass to Colby Dickson late in the first quarter for a brief 7-0 lead.
Westlake tied it at 7 early in the second quarter, then Ecker ripped off a 43-yard run on Roy’s next possession, but the drive stalled at the Thunder 5.
Four plays later, Ecker intercepted an errant Westlake pass and the Royals were in business at the Thunder 24.
In just over a minute, Kingston cashed in the mistake when he found paydirt on a 7-yard keeper and Roy went up 14-7 midway through the second period.
But the Royals gave up two late touchdowns in the final 2:01 and trailed for the first time when Westlake receiver Zachary Allen one-handed a 7-yard Garrison Higgins pass in the corner of the endzone with just 3.8 ticks left on the clock.
Roy didn’t commit an interception or fumble in the first half but was its own worst enemy, failing three times to convert on fourth down, turning the ball over on downs.
“We shot ourselves in the foot; our offense put our defense in a bad spot, then we gave up a score at the end of the half because of it,” Fernandes said. “We could have avoided some of those problems and not had to come from behind with two minutes left.”
Lee scored the other two Thunder touchdowns in the half on runs of 1 and 10 yards.