By BRAD KEITH
GOLDTHWAITE (November 4, 2016) — Daniel Sanchez scored 32 points, none more important than the final three on a 33-yard field goal as time expired to lift De Leon to a 38-35 win in an instant classic at Goldthwaite Friday night.
But the field goal was one of the more simple plays of the night for Sanchez, who hauled in six catches for 224 yards and three touchdowns and made the play of the night with a 66-yard interception return right down the De Leon sideline for a touchdown on the final play of the first half.
That brought the Bearcats within six at the intermission after trailing 20-0 midway through the second quarter. Then De Leon had to erase a two-touchdown second half deficit after Quaid Seward scored from five yards out one play after a blocked punt for a 28-14 Goldthwaite lead early in the third.
De Leon – especially Sanchez and quarterback Kevin Yeager – kept coming.
Sanchez, who was also a perfect 5-for-5 kicking PATs, hauled in touchdown catches covering 71, 35 and 53 yards, all from Yeager, who was 13-28 passing for 319 yards. The longest of those touchdowns got De Leon on the board after Goldthwaite looked as if it may run away with it. The tandem also tied the game at 28 and again at 35, with De Leon finally taking its only lead with zeroes on the clock at Eagle Field.
The victory means De Leon steals the second seed in 7-2A-Division I and will face Riesel in the opening round of the Region II-2A playoffs next week. Goldthwaite slips to third in the district and will face 8-2A runner-up Bosqueville.
“I’m just so happy and proud for our boys. Beating Goldthwaite at their place is hard to do,” said De Leon head coach David Yeager. “Daniel made the big plays and Kevin did a great job getting him the ball, but it’s all our kids working together. This is just a huge win for our program.”
Goldthwaite was powered all night by Quaid Seward, who rushed 35 times for 249 yards and four touchdowns, including a 19-yard burst to give the Eagles a 35-28 lead with 5:04 remaining.
De Leon answered with the last scoring strike from Yeager to Sanchez just 58 seconds later, and the last PAT by Sanchez tied the game again.
Goldthwaite drove inside the De Leon 30 before losing a fumble that was recovered by Ray Amaya of De Leon, and the Yeager and the offense came back out to begin a game-winning 58-yard drive that reached the Goldthwaite 15 before the Bearcats used their final timeout with 4.3 seconds remaining. Goldthwaite then called timeout to try and ice Sanchez, but there was no icing the star of the night.
From the right hash, Sanchez calmly knocked the 33-yard field goal straight through the uprights and De Leon players and fans alike charged onto the field in celebration.
“It was all in my head, just all in my head,” said Sanchez of the game winning kick. “I make those all the time in practice and I knew I had to make it then with the game on the line.”
But kicking was the easiest part of the big night by Sanchez.
“Our line played great and my QB throws me great passes. I was just trying to make plays,” Sanchez said. “He knows how I run my routes, the moves I make, and just how to get me the ball.”
De Leon moved the sticks four times on the game-winning drive, the first on a roughing the passer penalty as Kevin Yeager was slung out of bounds onto the Bearcat sideline. He scrambled 13 yards for the next first down, then hit Orson Sylva for 19 yards and Sanchez for 20. After a five-yard pass to Cooper Dyson, De Leon called its final timeout to send out the field goal unit.
The other touchdown pass by Kevin Yeager was 51 yards to Sylva, pulling the Bearcats within 28-21 just more than a minute into the fourth quarter.