84° F Friday, July 28, 2017

By Jay Plotkin

Lake Travis’ dramatic win over Westlake hinged on two fourth-quarter plays – one a coach’s decision to try and lock up a win, the other a senior quarterback and sophomore receiver getting on the same page.
With his team leading 11-7 and driving as the game wound into its closing minutes, Westlake coach Darren Allman eschewed a field goal attempt that would have given his team a 14-7 lead. Instead of settling for a 22-yard-field goal from a reliable kicker – Michael Barden had already made three against the Cavaliers – Allman went for the jugular. Facing a fourth-and-two at the Lake Travis 5-yard-line, Allman kept his offense on the field.
When the Cavaliers stopped Alex Chavez short of the first down, they avoided a potential knockout punch, then delivered one of their own.
Backed up at his own 3-yard line, Baker Mayfield caught the Chaps in a coverage he thought he could exploit by throwing to sophomore receiver Grant Foster.
“The coverage really did set up for that play,” Mayfield said. “The safety rolled up, so we were going to get Grant the ball.”
Foster saw the same thing his quarterback did.
“When I saw that coverage, I knew I wanted the ball,” he said.
Mayfield took the shotgun snap from Garrett Stotts, took a quick look at the field ,and then rolled to his left to avoid heavy pressure in his own end zone. When Mayfield had to scramble, things got chaotic, though not so much for the Lake Travis offense.
“When Baker scrambled, we kind of improvised a little bit,” Foster said. “There also had to have been a blown coverage.”
Foster split wide left and started up the field at the snap. Mayfield said after the game that the Cavaliers practice their scramble drill each Wednesday, and when he scrambled away from pressure, instincts took over. Foster saw his quarterback take off, looked at the defensive back covering him and took off.
Throwing off balance, Mayfield lofted a pass that Foster, by then a good five yards behind the nearest defender, ran under. Foster caught the ball and didn’t stop running until he crossed the goal line, 97 yards from where he started. The play turned out to be the winner.
“This is something coach[offensive coordinator David] Collins and our offense work on every single Wednesday to start practice – scramble drill,” Coach Hank Carter said. “It’s not just, ‘oh when Baker runs out there, everyone just scatters.’ They’ve got a spot to be, and Grant executed his perfectly, and Baker threw a fantastic pass, and Grant outran him for the rest of it.
“Baker can throw the ball as far as anybody; the guy has a super strong arm.”
After the game, Carter said the protection Mayfield got from the offensive line proved key, and his background as a defensive coach told him it’s impossible for a defensive back to cover a receiver as long as the Chaps needed to cover Foster on the play.
“The one thing we tell our players is that you can’t give the quarterback too much time to throw,” Carter said. “Once Baker got loose on the play, there is no defense that can cover a receiver for that long.”
The touchdown capped a five-catch, 161-yard night for the sophomore receiver, who’d also scored on a 12-yard catch late in the third quarter. Four of his catches and 155 of his yards came in the game’s final 13 minutes, when Lake Travis rallied from a 9-0 deficit.
In the first half, Foster had a long catch negated officials ruled he went out of bounds running his route and became the first player to touch the ball upon reentering the field, a no-no. Instead of a 40-yard, over-the-shoulder catch, he earned a 5-yard penalty.
Foster’s big game came one week after another standout effort against Del Valle. Against the Cardinals he tallied 144 yards and two scores on six catches. On the season, he has 22 catches for 398 yards and five scores, with the bulk coming in the last two weeks. Following his heroics Friday night, his teammates held him aloft along with the district championship trophy and chanted his name.
“I can’t remember that ever happening, although, he definitely deserved it,” said Carter of Foster being hoisted by his teammates.
Added defensive lineman Connor Shannon on what Foster’s play meant to the game and his future, “That’s the greatest catch I’ve ever seen in my life, the best catch right there. That’s going to go and take you far.”
The winning play marks the longest pass and second longest offensive play in Lake Travis’ history. On Oct. 20, 2006, Austin Wrinkle ran 99 yards for a touchdown in a 43-3 win over Dripping Springs.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever jumped that high; I think I was four feet in the air,” defensive lineman Zach Davies said of his view from the sideline. “That was awesome, great feeling.”
-Sports Editor Habeab Kurdi contributed to this story

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  1. LTKingOf5AFootball says:

    Great article, Kurdi ! So proud the Cavs don’t give up!

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