Halloween was last week, but the crowd in Sanger Friday night got to witness a thriller.
In the regular-season finale, the Decatur Eagles scored just enough to win 56-53 in a game that featured five lead changes in the second half, 1,141 yards of total offense and six touchdowns in the final eight minutes of play.
Senior Cain Lowe played a role in seven Decatur touchdowns, as he amassed 234 receiving yards and caught six touchdown passes. He even threw a 31-yard touchdown strike to Austin Givens after taking the ball on a reverse.
“It’s designed so if there’s a run open I can run it, but if the corner comes down to take the runner, the receiver should be wide open over the top,” Lowe said. “I just tossed it over the cornerback to Austin.”
Before Lowe started his highlight reel, the night looked grim for Decatur. Sanger came out strong when junior back Tre’von Jackson leapt a would-be tackler and rushed 25 yards untouched down the right side on the opening drive.
A few minutes later, Sanger scored again when quarterback Wyatt Broxson ran a draw play 44 yards for a touchdown. They scored a couple minutes later on a 32-yard field goal by Dakota Branch.
“I was proud of whole team’s effort,” said head coach Kyle Story. “It would have been easy to give up at any point. The team was down 17-0 early in the game. But I didn’t see any of that in our guys. They played hard every snap until there were no seconds left on the clock.”
Decatur finally answered late in the first with a 2-yard scoring rumble by senior back Levi Rust.
Decatur senior quarterback Grayson Muehlstein and the Eagle offense started to find their rhythm in the second quarter.
At the Sanger 12, Muehlstein moved left, then spun around and flipped the ball to a streaking Lowe who took the screen pass into the end zone.
“That worked for us pretty good tonight,” Muehlstein said. “I go one direction and lead all the defense to one side, then I flip it back to Cain. It’s a trick play we’ve been working on all week.”
“It’s a wide receiver screen where we get the defense to flow in the wrong direction,” Story said.
That score brought Decatur to within 3. The Eagles would pull the play out again for their final score.
The teams traded blows, with Lowe scoring on 44- and 42-yard touchdown passes in the final three minutes of the second quarter. But Sanger answered to carry a 31-28 lead into halftime.
The third quarter’s only score came on a 32-yard pass from Muehlstein to Lowe, giving Decatur its first lead of the night.
Muehlstein completed 24 of 35 passes for 399 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. By the time the clock read 0:00, his valiant efforts had secured the win.
“It was awesome,” Muehlstein said. “We played great and everybody toughed it out until the very end to get the win … It was tough, but I just had to relax and do what we do on offense and execute.”
In the fourth quarter, the teams combined to score six touchdowns as the lead changed hands several times – but the trick screen pass from Muehlstein to Lowe with only 42 seconds left worked one more time, giving Decatur the three-point win.
“It felt like whoever had the ball last was going to win,” Story said. “When there was 40 seconds left on the clock I was afraid they’d score again, but the defense got the stop when they needed it.”
Story credits the big guys up front for the incredible offensive numbers.
“I think our offensive line did a good job of giving us time to throw the ball,” Story added. “That let some receivers get open down the field. A big part of that was our offensive line. They were sending more than we had to block and they were still picking them up and we were getting rid of the ball in time.”
The Eagles look to keep that momentum going.
“I hope it carries over into the playoffs and helps carry the team during our playoff run,” Lowe said.
Decatur moves to 7-3 (3-1) and is second in district behind Gainesville. They will play either Ranchview Carrolton or Frisco Lonestar Friday. Sanger is 6-4 (2-2).
DECATUR 56, SANGER 53
Decatur … 7 … 21 … 7 … … 21 … – … 56
Sanger … 17 … 14 … 0 … … 22 … – … 53
Sanger 10:30 Tre’von Jackson 25 run; Dakota Branch kick
Sanger 7:37 Wyatt Broxson 44 run; Branch kick
Sanger 4:54 Branch 32-yard field goal
Decatur 1:25 Levi Rust 2 run; Clark Allen kick
Decatur 9:34 Grayson Muehlstein 12 pass to Cain Lowe; Allen kick
Sanger 7:08 Broxson 19 pass to Jackson; Branch kick
Decatur 2:42 Muehlstein 44 pass to Lowe; Allen kick
Sanger 1:14 Broxson 24 pass to Derek Shelby; Branch kick
Decatur 0:40 Muehlstein 42 pass to Lowe; Allen kick
Decatur 10:41 Muehlstein 34 pass to Lowe; Allen kick
Decatur 8:20 Lowe 31 pass to Austin Givens; Allen kick
Sanger 6:47 Broxson 9 run; 2-point conversion made
Sanger 4:18 Jackson 1 run; Branch kick
Decatur 3:03 Muehlstein 9 pass to Lowe; Allen kick
Sanger 1:58 Broxson 70 pass to Kyle Link; Branch kick
Decatur 0:42 Muehlstein 12 pass to Lowe; Allen kick
Rushing: Decatur, Muehlstein 20-109; Sanger, Jackson 23-118 2 TDs
Receiving: Decatur, Lowe 13-234 6 TDs; Givens 8-157 1 TD; Sanger, Link 4-88 1 TD
Passing: Decatur, Muehlstein 25-34-399 6 TDs; Sanger, Broxson, 18-28-246 3 TDs