Friday night will be remembered by Garland ISD football fans and programs for quite some time.
The main course was expected to take place at Williams Stadium, though there was a potentially appetizing game over at Homer B. Johnson Stadium, as well.
Rowlett and Sachse met for the 16th installment of the “Hammer Bowl” rivalry in a game that many believed would determine the top two seeds in the Division I bracket of the playoffs.
There have been times the match-up has not lived up to the hype, but Friday was not one of them.
The momentum swung back and forth all night long, as they traded the lead five times going down to the final minute.
The Eagles closed to within 42-40 when Tre Carr found Tre’von King for a 10-yard touchdown pass with just 21 seconds left.
Rowlett had to go for two, but the Sachse defense rose to the occasion, stuffing the run to preserve the lead. The Mustangs recovered the onside kick attempt and were able to run out the clock to end the 42-40 classic.
Meanwhile over at Homer B. Johnson Stadium, a subplot became a headline.
Naaman Forest stormed back from an early 20-7 deficit to take the lead over Lakeview. Just as the Rowlett players were shaking hands at midfield, the Rangers used a pick-6 that ultimately sealed their 42-27 victory over the Patriots.
As a result, that created a three-way tie for third place and the Eagles are the odd man out, ending their streak of playoff appearances at 14 in a row.
That result also affected Sachse, as Lakeview and Naaman Forest making the playoffs bumped Wylie to Division I. The Mustangs dropped to the second seed and will now have to face powerhouse Allen on the road next week in the bi-district round.
The entire night had a playoff feel with both teams bringing good crowds and they put on a show, including combining for 36 points in a wild fourth quarter.
Rowlett grabbed a 28-25 lead early in the frame on a 5-yard touchdown run on fourth down by D’Wonyae Newton.
It took the Mustangs 44 seconds to respond, as a 56-yard run by Shon Coleman set up a 1-yard quarterback keeper by Xavier Forman and after a quick punt, Addison Perez kicked a 24-yard field goal to push the lead to 35-28.
Rowlett came right back, as Tre Carr hooked up with Tre’von King on a 61-yard pass and then Carr kept it himself on 5-yard touchdown run to make it 35-34 with 3:44 left.
Perhaps knowing that Naaman Forest led across town, the Eagles rolled the dice and went for two but the pass fell incomplete, leaving Sachse with the one-point lead.
The Mustangs thought they had put it away when Coleman busted free for a 49-yard touchdown run to give them a 42-34 advantage with 1:39 left, but the resilient Eagles had one more push in them.
Rowlett efficiently moved 66 yards down the field, capping the drive when Carr found King for a 10-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 42-40 with 21 seconds left.
The Eagles tried to run right on the two-point conversion, but Sachse was all over it and it appeared that as he was being tackled the ball carrier tied to lateral the ball. A wild scramble ensued and it briefly looked like Rowlett might have recovered in the end zone, but the ball rolled out of bounds to essentially seal it.
Coleman had a huge game with 16 carries for 178 yards and three touchdowns, while Forman added a pair of rushing scores.
The Eagles actually held a 422-366 edge in total yards.
In his first start, Carr was an efficient 20-of-25 passing for 246 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 23 carries for 79 yards and a score.
King was the primary target, with a season-high 12 receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns, and Yarbrough had 11 carries for 77 yards and a pair of scores.
Rowlett could not have asked for a better start.
After forcing a three-and-out, Yarbrough broke free for a 49-yard touchdown run and a quick 7-0 lead.
The teams traded three-and-outs, but Sachse muffed the punt and Rowlett recovered, setting up a 45-yard touchdown pass from Carr to King to take a 14-0 lead with 5:03 left in the opening quarter.
The Eagles thought they were going to have a chance to build on that advantage when the Mustangs lined up to punt at midfield, but they called a fake and Matthew Carter raced 34 yards on fourth-and-17 to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Coleman to get Sachse on the board.
The Mustangs controlled much of the second quarter, getting a little help from the Eagles along the way.
A high snap led to a safety to cut it to 14-9. Sachse took the subsequent drive 62 yards in eight plays, with Forman keeping it on a 1-yard run to take the lead.
The same thing happened on Rowlett’s next drive, with a high snap leading to a safety and the Mustangs were able to take a 18-14 lead into halftime.
The teams traded touchdowns early in the third quarter, with Rowlett getting a 9-yard touchdown run from Yarbrough to start the frame and Forman answering for the Mustangs on a 8-yard run to make it 25-21.
It stayed that way until the fourth, where the intensity continued to build until Sachse's dramatic last stand as they hung on to win in the closest margin of victory in series history.