Commentary

Euless Trinity advances to state final

Risky call on fourth-down play lifts Trojans over Round Rock Stony Point, 35-28

Updated: December 12, 2009, 8:36 PM ET
By Randy Jennings | Special contributor

WACO, Texas -- No, Euless Trinity coach Steve Lineweaver insists, he is not a gambler.

But a calculated risk-taker, that is another story.

Lineweaver's gutsy call at just the right moment helped Trinity defeat Round Rock Stony Point, 35-28, Saturday afternoon and reach next Saturday's Class 5A Division I state championship game.

With just over four minutes left and Trinity nursing a seven-point lead and the ball at its 16-yard line, Lineweaver surprised just about all 11,000 fans at Waco ISD Stadium by calling for a fake punt. His team needed to gain about a foot on fourth down to keep the ball.

Punter Brandon Carter reacted as if the snap had gone over his head. Antonio Gonzalez, lined just to the left and behind center, took a short snap and ran right past the charging Stony Point defensive linemen. The 34-yard gain provided the field position Trinity needed.

When Trinity (13-2) did punt two minutes later, Stony Point (13-2) was 85 yards away from the end zone with no timeouts and eventually ran out of downs at midfield.

Lineweaver, who danced his way to the dressing room afterward, took several factors into consideration.

We're not a good punting team," he said. "Stony Point is athletic with a good return man and I was afraid of that. And we only needed a foot."

Gonzalez learned he would be running the ball instead of blocking about 10 seconds before the ball was snapped.

"If coach calls it, I believe in him," Gonzalez said.

The decision also took thick skin. Lineweaver was roundly criticized for a failed fourth-down gamble in Trinity's 2006 area loss to Southlake Carroll.

Trinity will be trying to win its third state title of the decade when it meets Austin Westlake (13-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Trinity, which started the season 1-2 and has now won 12 straight.

"This is such a young team, we couldn't have expected this," Lineweaver said.

Trinity sophomore safety Llaiu Moeakiola broke up the fourth-down pass that sealed the victory when Stony Point quarterback Gus Barrerra tried to hit Stephen Williams on a seam route.

Trinity's defense came up with a goal-line stand earlier in the fourth quarter, helped by a Stony Point false start penalty on fourth-and-goal at the 1. Backed up to the 6 a play later, quarterback Aaryn Sharp threw incomplete behind Williams on a crossing route.

Stony Point was unable to overcome halftime deficits as it had done in two previous playoff wins.

Trinity built a 28-20 halftime lead by scoring on its first four possessions.

Uncharacteristically, Trinity used big plays and a passing attack for quick strikes.

Quarterback Willie Hubbard combined with Brandon Carter for touchdown passes of 10, 64 and 75 yards.

"It wasn't our game plan to throw deep that much," Hubbard said. "I love Brandon for making those catches like that."