Last year, Grapevine couldn’t complete a comeback against Lubbock-Cooper in the Class 5A Division 2 regional round. Three hundred thirty-seven days later, a rematch between the two at Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium turned into a lopsided 27-7 win for Lubbock-Cooper on Friday.
“We had this game circled on our calendar for about a year now,” Grapevine head coach Mike Alexander said. “They bounced us last year in Round 3, too, so this one’s hard right now. We’d been looking forward to this for a long time.”
The game started ominously for the Mustangs (9-4) as Lubbock-Cooper running back Judge Thomason took the hand-off on the game’s first play from scrimmage and went untouched for a 73-yard score.
With plenty of time left in the game, the Mustangs didn’t falter and went on an 8-play drive on the ensuing possession to tie things up at 7 when Colt Mercer connected with Kaden Cook from 7 yards out.
On the next defensive series, Grapevine forced an interception and Holt Wagner stepped in front of an underthrown pass to give the Mustangs a chance to take the lead.
But on the very next play, Grapevine fumbled, leading to a Lubbock-Cooper (12-1) touchdown two plays later and a lead it wouldn’t give back up. It was one of two Grapevine turnovers that led to Pirate scores.
The second one was at the beginning of the second half as the Mustangs were marching down the field only to cough the ball back up after Mercer connected with Parker Polk only to have the ball come out on a big hit by Kobie McKinzie. Eight plays later, Thomason again found the end zone and it put Grapevine in a position it didn’t want to be in at any point in the game.
“That was the deciding factor,” Alexander said. “When they went up 21-7, it was like ‘oh, boy.’ We knew we had to keep that score within one score and just weren’t able to do it.”
Once Grapevine had to rely heavily on its passing game, it allowed the Pirates to apply heavy pressure up front, led by Kyler Jordan, who sacked Mercer three times on the night and disrupted many more plays.
Grapevine had four drives in the second half, three of them were for seven plays or more – two in double-digits – but it couldn’t find a way to get in the end zone and close the gap.
Mercer finished with 210 yards passing and the one touchdown, completing 25 of 42 passes.
Still, Alexander said he was proud of his teams’ effort from start to finish against a tough opponent.
“They didn’t flinch,” he said. “They stood in there and played their butts off. [I] can’t wait to get these guys in the locker room on Monday, look them in the eye and tell them I love them.”