By Kevin Askeland
SAN ANTONIO – Preseason All-State quarterback Garrett Gilbert and the defending state 4A champion Lake Travis Cavaliers got off to a slow start Friday with Gilbert completing 3 of 8 passes for just 13 yards in a scoreless first quarter.
But they were just getting started.
Gilbert caught fire in the second quarter, throwing for 173 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 27-20 win over the Westwood Warriors in the second game of the Texas Football Classic.
Gilbert, a University of Texas recruit who threw for a state record 4,827 yards last year, finished with 17 completions on 23 attempts for 312 yards and three touchdowns.
“We were maybe pressing a little bit at the beginning,” Gilbert said. “But the offensive line did a great job all night and the defense stopped Westwood when they had to in the red zone.”
Westwood proved to be a worthy opponent with quarterback Tyler Grabarkewitz and running back Princeton Collins combining for 410 yards of total offense. Either Grabarkewitz or Collins touched the ball on all 74 of the Warriors plays from scrimmage. Collins carried 30 times for 156 yards while Grabarkewitz completed 24 of 37 passes for 232 yards. He also rushed seven times for 22 yards.
Grabarkewitz’s completion and attempt totals were both the second highest in the Texas Football Classic’s 10-year history.
While Westwood was able to grind out long drives, Lake Travis used the big play to grab the early lead.
The Cavaliers opened the scoring early in the second quarter. After the two teams traded punts for most of the first 12 minutes, Gilbert found wide receiver Cade McCrary down the middle of the field for a 50-yard touchdown pass that covered 60 yards in the air.
Westwood cut the lead to 7-3 with a 44-yard field goal by Jordan Williamson midway through the second period, but the Cavaliers needed only three plays to answer.
Gilbert hit Andy Erickson for gains of 14 and 22 yards to set up Austin Pollard’s 29-yard touchdown run on a reverse with 5:51 left in the half.
The Warriors kept the pressure on, however, with a 76-yard drive culminating in a 1-yard touchdown run by Collins.
Once again, Gilbert and the Cavaliers responded. On the first play after the kickoff, Gilbert found McCrary open down the right sideline and hit the senior in stride for a 65-yard touchdown with 1:57 left in the half.
McCrary finished with six catches for 176 yards and three touchdowns, setting a Texas Football Classic record for receiving yardage. McCrary’s effort helped ease the loss of 1,000-yard receiver Cohl Walla, who decided to skip his senior season on the gridiron to focus on a promising baseball future.
Westwood continued to grind away in the second half, taking nearly six minutes off the clock to start the third period with a 12-play drive that ended in a 26-yard field goal by Williamson.
“You have to take your hats off to Westwood,” Lake Travis coach Chad Morris said. “They kept fighting and never gave up.”
Lake Travis put together its final scoring drive late in the third quarter with Gilbert throwing to McCrary in the end zone from 8 yards out. Gilbert completed all six passes he attempted for 83 yards on the drive.
Grabarkewitz cut Lake Travis’ lead to 27-20 on a 5-yard scoring run with 2:54 remaining, but Ethan Willinger recovered Westwood’s onside kick attempt, allowing Lake Travis to run out the block.
The Texas Football Classic continues Saturday with Reagan meeting Cinco Ranch at noon, Brownwood taking on Burnet at 3:45 p.m. and Calhoun battling Mercedes in the final game at 7:30 p.m.