THE WOODLANDS – Victory, which had eluded the College Park Cavaliers all season, tasted oh so sweet on Friday night.
In a wild night punctuated by exceptional performances on both sides of the ball, the Cavaliers celebrated their homecoming at Woodforest Bank Stadium with a thrilling 38-35 win over Conroe that came down to the final seconds.
The visiting Tigers (3-4), who fell behind 21-0 in the first half, staged an incredible comeback to grab their first lead of the night with 10 minutes left in the game. The Cavaliers (1-7) responded with a go-ahead touchdown, and Conroe’s final drive ended when a potential game-tying 31-yard field goal sailed wide with 11 seconds left. That set off
an emotional celebration on the College Park sideline and in the stands.
“You have to be proud of both teams,” said College Park coach Dereck Rush. “We’ve had our struggles, and I’m so proud of my kids and how they fought. When we had to have a stop, we stopped them. When we had to have a score, we scored. I give credit to Coach Robert Walker and the Tigers. They came out and fought their behinds off to the very end.”
Despite the final score, Conroe tailback Donaven Lloyd had the kind of night most football players only dream of. He carried the ball 31 times for an astounding 390 yards and three touchdowns. Lloyd had scoring runs of 55, 73 and 78 yards.
“He did a great job,” said Conroe head coach Robert Walker. “He’s an unbelievable back. The offensive line did a great job.
“The thing about Lloyd is he just doesn’t stop,” said Rush. “You think you have him hemmed up and he comes out the back side. They feed him the ball a lot, and I would too if he were on my team.”
On the College Park side of the ball, two seniors – quarterback Jordan Turnquest and Tucker Woody – led the Cavaliers’ heroic effort. Both players finished with more than 200 total yards of offense, and Turnquest, the Player of the Game, leapt over a player and into the end zone with 4:23 left in the game to finish off a 12-play, 76-yard drive that took nearly five valuable minutes off the clock.
Sophomore kicker Carson Mohr booted the point-after to make it 38-35. Mohr also connected on a 28-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, and those points turned out to be essential in snapping College Park’s losing streak.
“Carson Mohr, for a sophomore, has ice water in his veins,” said Rush. “By the time he’s a senior, he’s going to be one of the best around.”
College Park came out with a fiery intensity and knocked Conroe back on their heels for the first 13 minutes of the game. The Cavaliers mounted scoring drives of 68, 64 and 44 yards to seize a 21-0 lead with 10:45 left in the second quarter.
Turnquest, Woody and Chase Lane each ran for a touchdown during that opening salvo, and the Cavaliers defense was equally impressive. By the time Lane scored the team’s third touchdown, Conroe had run only six plays and gained nine yards and while holding the ball for 2:50 compared to about 11 minutes for College Park.
But give the Tigers credit. Despite falling into a 21-0 hole, they showed no signs of surrender and battled back to give themselves a fighting chance by halftime.
“They have a lot of heart,” said Walker. “These kids are wonderful kids, and they don’t get enough credit for that. Somewhere in this is a life lesson, and we’re going to go back to work.”
The leader of Conroe’s resurgence, Lloyd, delivered a pair of lightning strikes that were an early indication of the kind of remarkable performance he was about to deliver.
Lloyd ran for a 55-yard touchdown with 9:10 left in the half to put the Tigers on the board, and less than a minute later he broke free for a 73-yard score.
Sandwiched in between those two big plays, however, was a College Park touchdown set up by a deftly executed trick lay. Turnquest threw a lateral pass to Dylan Taylor, and he found Woody wide open for a 64-yard gain. Turnquest finished the drive with a five-yard run, and he finished the night with three touchdowns.
Trailing 28-14 at halftime, Conroe opened the third quarter with a 75-yard drive to make it a one-score game. On third-and-11, quarterback Colby Kizzie spotted wide receiver Kelly McFarland running a crossing route and hit him in the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown.
Kizzie would tie the game 28-28 with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter on 12-yard pass to tight end Travis Null, who somehow caught and secured the ball with only his right hand.
After Mohr’s field goal put College Park back on top 31-28, Lloyd broke free for one more dazzling run, a 78-yard touchdown run with 9:28 in the game. Hunter Elliott delivered his fifth PAT of the night to make it 35-31, Conroe’s first lead of the night.