STORY BY: BOB WRIGHT
LAKE TRAVIS – The A&M Consolidated Tigers made a big football statement Friday night amidst the beautiful rolling hills of Austin, answering every time the state-ranked Lake Travis Cavaliers made a move to get close.
It was a barnburner between two of the state’s finest Class 5A clubs, but in the final analysis, it was the Tiger squad which put out the fire to save the barn, and came away with a 30-28 victory to run the Consol record to 3-1. It also made the Lake Travis record at 3-1.
Making the win all the more sweeter, the Tigers proved they could hang with the best at Cavalier Stadium, while in the process snapping the state’s longest winning streak at 20 games. As a matter of record, setting the stage for this victory by A&M Consolidated, was Lake Travis’ 80-3 record – now, make that 80-4 – over the past five seasons while winning five consecutive state titles in Class AAAA.
A happy coach following the game, David Raffield alluded to Consol now becoming a group of believers. There were plenty on hand in the stands to cheer on their gridiron heroes under Friday Night Lights, which shone just a bit brighter as the Tigers took it to the Cavaliers from the opening whistle.
Consol amassed 580 yard of total offense against the proud Lake Travis defense. The Cavaliers also had their moments with the likes of junior running back Shaun Nixon, a hard to bring down football runner with speed and power. He had over 200 yards rushing and is a highly sought after gridder, including “courtships” from the Alabama Crimson Tide. And, he has another year to torment opponents. However, the Consol defense you’ve heard it said, was bent at times, but never broke except for one long scoring run by Nixon.
Again, senior quarterback Jaylan Cheshire guided the Tiger offense, triggering some key aerials to Tyler Spaw, Josh Stewart and Daniel Hulse. His receiving corps has proved time and again they’re up to the task in holding onto the ball for key gains to keep drives alive.
Friday night’s big win set the stage for next Friday night’s game with the Lufkin Panthers, an important District 14-5A opener, which will be played at Tigerland Stadium where a full house should be in attendance at 7:30.
Last evening at Cavalier Stadium, the Tigers held quarterly leads, racing in front 9-0 after one quarter, holding onto a 23-14 halftime advantage, and leading 30-21 after three periods. The Tigers didn’t score in the final quarter, while Lake Travis pushed across one TD, but as it turned out, Consol’s defense came through with flying colors when it needed to do so. Top defensive plays were turned in by linemen Josh Hailey, Cory Harris, Coleman Dennis and Danny Ochoa. The latter put on his containment britches more than once, in hurrying senior quarterback Baker Mayfield, who had some fine moments with running. But, it was Ochoa who led the charge to down Mayfield with some losses, particularly on a couple of third-down plays, forcing the Cavaliers to punt.
Linebackers Kyle Chism, Randy Whited and Alec Byrd also got in on the defensive heroics. Defensive backs Austin Stephen and Eric Yates got in some good sticks on the opponent.
Lake Travis lost three fumbles, while Consolidated’s lone turnover came on an interception at the Tiger 35 in the fourth quarter.
In total offense, the Tigers had a 112 yards to 51 edge over the high-geared Cav offense edge after one quarter and a 265-230 advantage by halftime.
The first half drama included a missed 43-yard field goal by the Tigers’ Dillon Moore on a ball which was tipped by a Cavalier. HOWEVER, it didn’t matter, since Lake Travis had 12 on the field, was assessed a five-yard stepoff, giving the Tigers a first down at Lake Travis’ 26 with 1:03 remaining in the half.
Consol won the toss and elected to receive. The confident Tigers felt they could score first, and did. Starting the proceedings was David Dick out of the Wildcat, sweeping to his left for five yards, after which Cheshire drilled an 18-yard pass to Daniel Hulse. Cheshire came back for an encore, connecting with Josh Stewart for a 17-yard gain. Cheshire kept off right guard for eight yards, and Dick scored from the six at the 7:59 mark. It ended a 55-yard drive which needed half a dozen plays. Dillon Moore didn’t get an opportunity to kick the extra point when a high snap left a kink in plans, leaving the score 6-0. But, Consol was in front and was never to trail in the game.
Consolidated increased the lead to 9-0 on Moore’s 24-yard field goal with 2:38 remaining in the opening period. That effort had been set up after the Tigers recovered a fumble at the Lake Travis 40.
In the second quarter, about a minute and a half deep into the period, Consol made the 16-0 on a 38-yard pass-and-run from Cheshire to John Motley. That was a beautifully-executed play and an equally great reception by Motley. The ended a 53-yard march on the fifth play of the drive. Moore booted the point.
Lake Travis pulled to within 16-6 on a six-yard pass to Grant Foster (not Foster Grant). The score came with 4:18 left in the half. Kevin Marcotte kicked the point, and it was 16-7.
The Tigers had an answer for that later in the period when Xavier Jones sped and tight-roped his way down the sideline for 25 yards with 3:49 to go before halftime, while writing conclusion to a 69-yard drive in only three plays. Moore’s kick made it 23-7.
Nixon scored on the ninth play of a 75-yard drive, by sweeping 18 yards, shaking a couple of defenders and zipping into the end zone. Marcotte kicked the extra point, bringing the halftime score to 23-14.
A&M Consolidated bolted in front in the third quarter, 30-21 after Lake Travis had scored on a seven-yard pass, followed by Marcotte’s kick, bringing the Cavaliers to within 23-21. The 30-21 score came punched in from the one, making it 29-21. Moore’s kick upped the margin to 30-21.
Nixon ended the scoring on a 27-yard run. Marcotte booted the extra point with 6:30 to go in the game.
The Tigers were again knocking at the touchdown door when the game ended. Lake Travis was out of timesout. Cheshire kneeled twice to preserve the victory.
Consol’s record includes victories over Copperas Cove, Austin Westlake and now Lake Travis. The loss to Midway, it is felt, could have, and should have been won by Consolidated, which that night failed to convert on several missed opportunities to score.