After trailing from the first quarter on, Decatur took the lead with seconds left to win 41-38 in a Friday-the-13th thriller at Burkburnett.
With only 17 ticks left on the clock and the Eagles down by three, senior quarterback Grayson Muehlstein battled forward on a 12-yard run to steal the victory.
It was his sixth touchdown of the evening – and three of them came in the pivotal fourth quarter.
“We started off slow, and then we picked things up in the second half,” Muehlstein said. “We fought back and everybody played hard down to the last second. I couldn’t be more proud of my team.”
Burkburnett’s offense ran wild in the first half, powered by a dominant, clock-grinding ground game led by Marqui Askew. The junior running back cranked out 286 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries, averaging an eye-popping 11 yards per carry. He struck twice in the first half, at times dragging Decatur defenders behind him like a truck.
The Bulldogs were poised to carry a 24-8 lead into halftime when a trick play sparked the Eagles.
With only one second left on the clock, Decatur executed a perfect hook-and-ladder play from 34 yards out.
Muehlstein hit a wide open Austin Givens, who promptly pitched backwards to Cain Lowe, who caught it in full stride and breezed into the endzone.
“We’ve only practiced that twice, and it was something that we’d use in a desperate situation when we had to score,” Muehlstein said. “We did it, and it worked to our advantage. It gave us a little momentum and kept everybody’s head up.”
Lowe proved to be a hot target for Muehlstein all night, racking up 142 yards and three touchdowns.
The late touchdown and a halftime pep talk by head coach Kyle Story sparked the Eagles into the second half.
“They had an idea they weren’t going to give up no matter what,” Story said. “I challenged them at halftime because it looked like (Burkburnett) was taking the fight to us, and they were playing a lot more aggressive than us and more physical than we were.
“I told them to make up their minds right now they were going to go out there and play physical or just lie down? I was glad to see their efforts in the second half.”
Decatur responded by outscoring Burkburnett 27-14 in the second half, including shutting the Bulldogs out in the fourth while Decatur posted 20.
The scoring started early in the fourth, when Muehlstein lunged into the endzone on a 1-yard run.
“Our offensive line did a good job the first half, but they stepped it up the second half to really open up some holes,” Story said.
Five minutes later Muehlstein found Lowe, who stutter-stepped two defenders, zig-zagged across the center of the field to elude several more, and streaked to the endzone, cutting the Burk lead to only three points.
Decatur running backs Eddie Martinez and Levi Rust kept pounding it out, moving the chains after being held in check the first half. Their efforts, combined with some crucial fourth down stops by the defense gave Decatur their chance to win.
“They gotta have something inside of themselves to keep fighting,” Story said. “They never gave up.”
“At some points it didn’t look so good but everybody just kept going to work,” Muehlstein said.
Muehlstein finished the night with 121 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He passed for another 192 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions.
Martinez led all Decatur rushers with 124 yards on 22 carries.
Decatur moves to 2-1 for the season while Burkburnett falls to 0-3.
DECATUR 41, BURKBURNETT 38
Decatur … 0 … 14 … 7 … … 20 … – … 41
Burkburnett … 6 … 18 … 14 … … 0 … – … 38
Burkburnett – 2:08, Bobby Ingram 5 run; 2 point conversion failed
Burkburnett – 8:21, Marquis Askew 2 run; David Barron kick
Decatur – 5:12, Grayson Muehlstein to Cain Lowe 45 pass; Justin Myers 2-point run
Burkburnett – 4:49, Askew 67 run; 2-point conversion pass
Burkburnett – 0:59, Barron 32 kick
Decatur – 0:00, Muehlstein 34 to Lowe; 2-point fail
Decatur – 10:16, Muehlstein 67 run; Clark Allen kick
Burkburnett – 7:23, Bryan Lewis 46 to Ingram; kick good
Burkburnett – 4:44, Askew 83 run; kick good
Decatur – 11:57, Muehlstein 2 run; kick good
Decatur – 7:12, Muehlstein 50 to Lowe; kick good
Decatur – 0:17, Muehlstein 12 run; kick miss
Rushing – Decatur, Eddie Martinez, 22-124, Muehlstein 13-121 3 TDs; Burkburnett, Askew, 25-286 3 TDs
Receiving – Decatur, Lowe, 5-142 3 TDs; Burkburnett, Ingram 3-109 TD
Passing – Decatur, Muehlstein, 7-18-192 3 TDs; Lewis, 5-10-112 1 TD