The Texas Class 5A football tournament, annually celebrated among the best in the nation (if not the best), hosted its first wild, improbable final-minute upset of the year, and boy was it a doozy.
Facing fourth-and-goal from the 10-yard line with just 16 seconds remaining in the game and trailing 35-31, underdog Fort Bend (Texas) Travis High found itself at the last chance saloon juice bar (hey, this is high school sports, people) against Clear Springs (Texas) High. After the snap, Travis quarterback Teagan Nehls dropped back and found all of his receivers, from first looks through an entire progression of check-downs, utterly blanketed by Clear Springs defenders.
As the pass rush closed in, Nehls was left with little option but to hurl the ball toward a corner of the end zone, where his leading receiver was double covered, on a hope and a prayer.
That receiver was Cody Moncure. As he proved moments later, he has some reflexes.
As the ball floated in, Moncure found himself boxed out by a pair of Clear Springs defensive backs. Yet the defenders in question made a classic mistake, tipping the deep pass up, keeping it alive, rather than knocking it directly to the ground.
Whether the cornerback and safety tipped the ball up in an attempt at a glorious, game-clinching interception (of course, an incompletion would have been just as game-clinching) or out of sheer instinct may never be known. What is known is that by keeping the ball alive, the defenders inadvertently gave Moncure one final chance to save his squad's season, and he wasn't about to waste it. As the ball floated down, Moncure tapped it sideways, giving himself a final diving shot at a catch. Then he leapt out, away from the players who were on top of him, pulling in the ball with one open hand and sending his Fort Bend teammates into delirium.
"We've won plenty of games just like that, but it happened so fast, and there was so much emotion on that play, I can't tell you what happened," Moncure told the Fort Bend Sun. "But this is where we dreamed we would be. We've been working on this since we were 7 years old."
Blur or not, Moncure's catch earned the Tigers a victory, albeit one that still had tense moments in the closing seconds. Multiple celebration penalties from Moncure's touchdown pushed the subsequent Fort Bend kickoff all the way back to the Tigers 13-yard line, and the Clear Springs return got the ball all the way to the Fort Bend 41-yard line.
But despite the strong field position, Clear Springs missed on a pass attempt to get within field goal position, leaving just one last Hail Mary attempt to steal a win that had seemed theirs just moments before. Unlike Clear Springs, Travis made sure that last attempt fell incomplete.
"I just told myself to keep your feet and give Cody a chance. I threw it out there, and he made a ridiculous catch," Nehls told The Sun. "But that's what playmakers do, and he's a playmaker."
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