BRYAN, Texas (KXAN) — Liberty Hill had one play to clinch its spot in the 5A-Division 2 state championship game.
In overtime, Liberty Hill decided to take destiny in its own hands and go for the knockout punch, the two-point conversion, trailing Crosby 62-61 after a Blake Simpson touchdown in the extra session. The hole appeared to be open for the winning play, but the handoff was fumbled and Crosby recovered for the win.
An inspiring, special season for the Panthers ended on Friday night in the state semifinals with a 62-61 loss to Crosby.
The Panthers Slot-T offense confounded opponents throughout the postseason, but it was Liberty Hill’s passing game that caught Crosby (11-3) off guard in the first half.
Liberty Hill played this season for its head coach.
Coach Jeff Walker died on Nov. 30 after an extended fight with cancer. The epitome of Liberty Hill toughness, Walker, continued coaching throughout his treatment. He was on the sidelines for Liberty Hill’s game against Austin Navarro 10 days before he died.
Making the move from 4A to 5A this season, Liberty Hill blew through the regular season and its first postseason games with a relentless rushing attack and the tough spirit of their head coach.
On Friday, Liberty Hill ran for over 230 yards in the first half, but two pass completions kept the Panthers alive early. One pass went 50 yards for a touchdown. Another pass to Blake Lynch went 80 yards for a score.
At halftime, Crosby led Liberty Hill 35-31.
Crosby appeared to take control of the game in the third quarter, scoring three touchdowns for 20 points and forcing a Liberty Hill turnover. Going to the fourth quarter, Liberty Hill was down 55-39, but continued to threaten.
A touchdown early in the final quarter, a successful two-point conversion and an ensuing onside kick recovery gave the Panthers the ball at midfield, trailing 55-47.
The Slot-T offense prevailed again. Crosby had no answers as Liberty Hill powered its way down the field for the tying score with seven minutes left in the game.
There were fireworks in the final minutes, but no points. Each team failed on a fourth down attempt near midfield. Liberty Hill recovered a Crosby fumble, but couldn’t score on the turnover as this game headed to overtime.
In the overtime period, the Crosby offense went to work first, scoring on three plays for a 62-55 lead. Liberty Hill countered even faster with Simpson’s 25-yard rushing touchdown, leading to the attempted two-point conversion.
Crosby will play Aledo in the 5A-D2 state championship next week.