Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Lancaster's mistakes plus Cedar Park's dominant offensive-line play equal 17-7 loss for Tigers in 4A-II state championship game
ARLINGTON — Cedar Park capitalized on a series of Lancaster miscues to run away with a 17-7 victory in the 4A Division II state championship at Cowboys Stadium.
Cedar Park scored twice in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Kicker Zach Hancock hit a 22-yard field goal to break a 7-7 tie, and running back Mikal Wilson ran for a 14-yard touchdown to go up two scores with three minutes remaining.
Both teams were appearing in their first state championship game.
Lancaster’s offense, which overcame several fourth-quarter deficits during the playoffs, struggled to generate anything positive in the second half and couldn’t respond to either Cedar Park score.
Lancaster scored a touchdown on its opening drive. It amassed only 56 yards of offense in the second half and committed several costly penalties.
“It was self-inflicted stuff,” Lancaster coach Chris Gilbert said, “and dead-ball penalties that really hurt us.”
After a big fourth-down stop early in the third quarter, Lancaster took over at its 32. It was flagged for three consecutive false starts, then quarterback Demarcus Ayers was called for intentional grounding at Lancaster’s 6-yard line on third down.
On fourth down, Lancaster’s deep snapper was unable to get the snap off, and Cedar Park took over at the 6-yard line.
The Lancaster defense held Cedar Park to a field goal, but that proved to be all it needed.
“Our offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage as the game went on,” Cedar Park coach Joe Willis said, “and our line dominated on the other side, too. Anytime you win the line of scrimmage, run the ball and make them one-dimensional by taking the run away, you stand a good chance to win a close game like that.”
Lancaster (14-2) committed 12 penalties for 93 yards. It turned the ball over on its last two possessions — an interception from Nick Harvey and a wayward snap over Ayers’ head late in the fourth quarter.
“We made a lot of mistakes on offense, jumping offsides and stuff,” said Lancaster defensive end Daeshon Hall, who was named the defensive MVP with a sack and three tackles for losses. “But it’s all a learning experience.”
Wilson was named the offensive MVP. He rushed for 51 yards and a touchdown.
Cedar Park (14-2) got a sorely needed touchdown to tie the score at 7-7 with 15 seconds remaining in the first half.
After being held without a first down and just 21 yards in the first quarter, Cedar Park put together a nearly six-minute drive to close the first half, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Ethan Fry on fourth-and-goal.
The series featured 67 of Cedar Park’s 131 first-half rushing yards and its only two completions.
Lancaster opened the game with its best series of the game — a six-play, 60-yard drive. Lancaster converted on fourth-and-6 from the Cedar Park 39 with a nifty pass from Ayers to Harvey, who was lined up on the left side and stacked with two other receivers.
Ayers ran the ball 27 yards for a touchdown on the following play to give Lancaster an early 7-0 lead.
Follow David Just on Twitter at @DavidJustDMN.