DENTON - Lewisville looked lost in the first half of its Class 6A Region 1 bi-district playoff game on Friday.
Then, the third quarter began.
The Farmers scored 20 unanswered points in the second half, and only a late touchdown run by Keller tied the score and sent the game into overtime. There, Lewisville used defense and its rushing attack to win in the third extra period, 33-27, at C.H. Collins in Denton.
The win puts Lewisville in the area round of the Class 6A playoffs, set for next week.
The Farmers amassed 175 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns, and forced two Keller turnovers in the six-point victory that had plenty of heart-stopping moments.
After both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime, Keller’s Enoch Ntchobo fumbled on the first play of the second overtime. It was recovered by Lewisville’s Kayden Steen.
But Farmer’s quarterback A.J. Newsome threw an interception on third down, and the game went to a third overtime. After Josh Lockhart scored to put the Farmers’ up, 33-27, the Lewisville defense knocked down a Hail Mary attempt by Keller’s Damon Smith on fourth down to win the game.
A touchdown run by Ntchobo tied the score at 20-20 with 3:46 left in regulation. Lewisville, on the ensuing possession, was stopped short on third down and, after a timeout by head coach Michael Odle, elected to punt the ball instead of go for it. The ball was punted to the Keller 6-yard line, and the Indians ran out the clock, setting the stage for overtime.
What looked like a possible blowout in favor of the Indians turned into a picture-perfect game for Lewisville - a game that was decided by defense, and running the ball.
Keller stymied Lewisville in the first half and took a 13-0 lead to the locker room, with the Farmers lacking any cohesion on offense. But post-halftime, a new team emerged from the Lewisville locker room.
The Lewisville running attack, led by Ben McAfee and Lockhart, drove the length of the field on eight plays following a Keller punt, and culminated in Newsome hitting McAfee on a swing pass out of the backfield, which the junior took 15 yards for a touchdown. That cut Keller’s lead to 13-7 with two minutes left in the quarter.
The ball was then recovered by Lewisville on the ensuing kickoff after Keller failed to cover the rolling ball, and Newsome fired a strike to freshman receiver Armani Winfield for a 29-yard touchdown. In the blink of an eye, Lewisville had a 14-13 lead.
The Farmers scored again to make it 20-13, but the snap was low on the extra point, causing kicker Peter Chin to tuck the ball and run. He was tackled behind the line of scrimmage.
A huge sequence of events in the second quarter gave Keller a two-score lead in this defensive struggle.
On third down from the Farmer’s 40 yard line, Ntchobo was stopped short of the first down marker by senior safety Kevin Anderson. Keller lined up to run an offensive play on fourth down, and Smith used a hard count which drew the Farmer’s defensive line offsides - a penalty that would have given Keller an automatic first down.
But the officials penalized Keller for a delay of game penalty, which occurred before Lewisville's offside jump.
The Indians punted the ball, but Lewisville jumped offside on the snap - which, this time, was enforced, giving Keller back the original five yards it lost on the delay of game penalty. Head coach Carl Stralow decided to go for it again, and the Indians converted for a first down.
A defensive pass interference call later, and Smith found Justin White in the end zone for Keller’s second score of the game.
Tyler Atkison intercepted an overthrown ball from Newsome on the next drive, and Keller ran out the clock to halftime with a 13-0 lead.
Smith spent time at quarterback for Keller, as starting senior Sloan Henry suffered a hurt foot in the first half. Henry returned for the fourth quarter and overtime, but was noticeably limping.
This was the Farmer’s seventh win in a row; Lewisville won its final six regular season games to end the season 8-2 and grab a playoff berth.