For one half Thursday night at Dick Bivins Stadium, the Amarillo High Sandies looked like they were going to be celebrating clinching a playoff berth out of District 2-5A Division I and that Caprock would just have to watch it happen.
But for the other half, Caprock showed why celebrations and proclamations can often be premature.
Playing like they had something to prove in the final two quarters, the Longhorns shook up the district race, or at least made it tougher to figure. Using a productive running game and a strong defense, Caprock rallied after falling behind at halftime and beat Amarillo High 17-10 to make a major statement.
After a first half in which little went right, Caprock (5-3, 3-1 in district) dominated the second half. The Longhorns took the lead for good with 5:45 left in the game when Kalib Rodriguez, who's emerged as their running star, scored on an 18-yard run to provide the final margin.
"You can't let anything bother you in a game like this," said Caprock coach Dan Sherwood, who for the second time in three years can claim a victory over his alma mater. "It's a four quarter game and you've got to keep going until the clock reads 0:00 at the end of the fourth quarter. The coaches did a great job of getting the kids ready tonight."
Defense was the theme for much of the night, and Caprock especially had it in the second half. Amarillo High (5-3, 2-2) scored a touchdown on its first possession but after that the Sandies didn't reach the end zone again.
The Sandies led 10-3 at halftime and got the ball to start the second half. But the Longhorns forced a punt and took over at their own 20-yard line. They capped an 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive with a 32-yard scoring pass from Tarik Williams to T.J. DeLeon to tie the game 10-10.
That was the most ironic play of the night, as the first 10 plays of the drive were runs. It was also Caprock's only completion of the second half.
"We knew we had to get the running game going," Sherwood said. "We didn't do a good job of that last week (a 28-12 loss to Abilene Cooper) and the offensive line, wide receivers and running backs did their jobs to make it successful tonight."
Nobody was a better example of that than Rodriguez, a senior who in his previous two years with the Longhorns was better known as a defensive back. Rodriguez ran for 172 yards on 23 carries, and was often featured out of the Wildcat formation, especially in the drive that tied the game.
"We just came in with a game plan, and with everyone ready I knew we'd do it," Rodriguez said. "We knew what was working after halftime and you don't fix it if it's not broken. We run certain formations during the week in practice and the Wildcat was working so we just went with it."
In the fourth quarter, both teams made drives into the other's territory, but came up empty. Amarillo High stopped Caprock on downs then the Sandies drove to the Caprock 29 but John Grist missed a 46-yard field goal attempt to give the ball back to the Longhorns.
That typified Amarillo High's second half offensive frustration, as the Longhorns held Amarillo High to 65 yards of offense after halftime.
"We just went stale," AHS coach Chad Dunnam said. "We were moving the ball in the first half and lost a fumble and in close game like this those things are going to hurt you. We had some miscommunications defensively which contributed to (the Longhorns) moving the ball. In the second half they just played better than us."
Two plays after Grist's miss, Caprock's Corbin Putman reeled off a 36-yard run down to Amarillo High's 18. On the next play, Rodriguez scored on a sweep around the right side to give Caprock a 17-10 lead with 5:45 left in the game.
The teams exchanged punts and the Sandies got the ball back one last time in the final two minutes. At their own 45, Sandies quarterback Beau Barker tried to complete a pass to the right sideline, but Caprock senior safety Jonathan Guerrero swooped in for an interception with 1:28 left to clinch the win.
"Our coaches were talking about how we needed to be ready for the bubble pass," Guerrero said. "I just read it and got the ball. It was amazing. It just feels unbelievable right now."
Caprock got the opening kickoff but three plays later Williams threw a deep ball into coverage that Amarillo High's Maycin SMmtherman intercepted at his own 25. Seven plays later, Barker hit Davin Lemmons for a 32-yard scoring pass to give the Sandies a 7-0 lead.
The teams exchanged field goals in the second quarter. Caprock's Carlos Rodallegas recovered a fumble and that set up a 33-yard field goal by Cason Polivoda that got the Longhorns on the board and cut the lead to 7-3.
Amarillo High responded by driving down to the Caprock 5, and when the drive stalled, Grist kicked a 22-yard field goal to make it 10-3, the way it stayed through the half.
Caprock 17, Amarillo High 10
AHS—Davin Lemmons 22 pass from Beau Barker (John Grist kick), 8:30
C—Cason Polivoda FG 33, 7:20
AHS—Grist FG 22, 3:32
C—T.J DeLeon 32 pass from Tarik Williams (Polivoda kick), 2:35
C—Kalib Rodriguez 18 run (Polivoda kick), 5:45
RUSHING—Amarillo High: Blake Bedwell 15-88, Barker 10-38, Rhett Maynard 8-24, Taevon Hood 2-5, Lemmons 2-(-3), Jake Maynard 2-2. Caprock: Rodriguez 23-172, Williams 9-2, Corbin Putman 6-56, Demajia Murphy 1-(-7).
PASSING—Amarillo High: Barker 11-25-1-108. Caprock: Williams 4-15-1-82.
RECEIVING—Amarillo High: Luke Boyett 2-18, Lemmons 3-43, Bedwell 2-8, Peyton Conner 2-25, R. Maynard 1-2, Cayden Johnson 1-12. Caprock: Rodriguez 1-20, Jay Gaines 2-30, DeLeon 1-32.