Lake Travis comeback topples Chaps


Lake Travis and Westlake met Nov. 1st. Lake Travis took the win with 27-28.

Last time the Westlake football team defeated the Lake Travis Cavaliers, the current senior class was in sixth grade, gas was $2.73 per gallon and George W. Bush was still in office. Heading into the Nov. 1 game against the Cavs, the Chaps had lost five straight in the annual “Battle of the Lakes,” with the last win coming in 2007. But despite the unfavorable recent history of the series, the players said this game felt different.
“We felt like we could beat them,” offensive lineman junior Joe Gallinghouse said.
But alas, it wasn’t to be, as Westlake squandered away a 27-14 lead en route to a heartbreaking 27-28 loss to their archrival.
“We were all pretty down,” Joe said. “But we also realized that if we play hard, we might get another shot at them in the playoffs, and I know a lot of us would love that.”
Westlake started its first drive of the game at its own 10-yard line, but put together a 14-play, 90-yard drive that was finished off by a 22-yard touchdown pass from quarterback senior Jordan Severt to junior Sean Rollings.
“We practiced hard all week,” associate head coach Ted Willmann said. “All of the intensity that they had played with in practice just got unleashed [on that first drive].”
Lake Travis receiver Dominick Packer fielded the ensuing kickoff at his own 15-yard line and dashed down the sideline before being brought down at the Chaparral 40. His 45-yard return gave the Cavs excellent field position to start their first drive. They almost wasted the early opportunity, but on fourth-and-16, quarterback junior Dominic De Lira found Dominic Packer for a 31-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7 all.
Westlake went three and out on its next series, and on the punt, Dominic Packer struck again for Lake Travis, returning it 49 yards for a touchdown to make the score 7-14.
Not to be outdone, Westlake responded with a 13-play, 71-yard drive that senior Alex Chavez capped off on a 6-yard touchdown run, tying the score at 14.
“You can’t give Lake Travis [the offensive scheme] they see all the time,” Willmann said. “They see doubles and trips and spread offenses all the time, so we just gave them a different look.”
However, on the ensuing Lake Travis possession, Westlake cornerback senior Rhodes Legg, one of the cornerstones of the Chaparral defense, was kicked out of the game after being called for a targeting penalty. Coaches were not happy with the call.
“That’s such a drastic, hard penalty,” Willmann said. “If you are going to call it, you have to be willing and ready to enforce that penalty every time [a targeting occurs]. There were some evident instances where that wasn’t being called consistently.”
Westlake added a field goal before the half to make the score 17-14 going into the second half.
“The kids were calm, cool and collected,” Willmann said. “We just needed to continue to play well, and for the most part we did — there were just a few key plays where they got us.”
After forcing Lake Travis to punt on its opening drive, Westlake’s offense once again found pay dirt, this time on a 2-yard touchdown run by defensive lineman junior Breckyn Hager, who plays running back in the Chaps goal-line offense, increasing the lead to 24-14.
Dominic De Lira threw an interception on the next Cavalier drive, giving Westlake the ball on the Lake Travis 23-yard line. Despite the good field position, Westlake was forced to punt following a 15-yard penalty that set the ball back to the 35-yard line.
“There’s a tipping point in every game,” Willmann said.”Had we scored, that could have been a tipping point. We would have gone up 31-17, but instead they held us, and it turned out to be a tipping point in their favor.”

Following another defensive stop, Westlake’s offense embarked on a 15-play, 59-yard drive that kicker senior Dallen Nelson finished off with a 29-yard field goal to put the score at 27-14 heading into the final quarter of play.
On the next Lake Travis drive, running back senior Varshaun Nixon scored for the Cavs to cut the Chaparral lead down to six. On the ensuing possession, Westlake was forced to punt, and needing a score, the Lake Travis offense trotted onto the field. This time, Varshaun, who had been held to negative one yards rushing in the first half, would not be denied, leading the Cavs on an 11-play, 48-yard drive that he capped off with a one-yard TD run.
“He’s a good athlete,” Willmann said. “He’s explosive and makes big plays. He can take the team on his back and carry them, and that’s what he did on Friday night.”
Westlake had one more shot to score, but couldn’t manage a first down and punted the ball away with just over three minutes left. Lake Travis ran out the rest of the clock, sealing the 27-28 win.
“It felt like we kind of lost our focus toward the end there,” Joe said. “That was the difference.”
For the second straight year, the Chaps fell just short of a victory — they lost last year 11-14 after a 96-yard pass with just over two minutes left gave Lake Travis the lead.
“[Losing that game caused] our team chemistry to become incredibly strong,” linebacker junior Gabe Duran said. “We have that mindset that if we work hard, nothing can stop us.”
The team closes out their regular season Nov. 8 against Austin High at Chaparral Stadium. The last two matches were not kind to the Maroons, as Westlake won 52-0 in 2011, and 35-0 in 2012. Austin is 3-6 on the season, and 2-3 in District play. A win Friday and an Akins loss would give them the last seed in the playoffs.
“They’re going to come in ready to play,” Willmann said. “I don’t expect anything less than a war. Even though the scoreboard hasn’t come out in their favor the past two years, they’ve played us really physically.”
Despite the unfavorable result of the Lake Travis game, players remain confident heading into the Austin High game and beyond that — the playoffs, where they could possibly play Lake Travis again if both squads make it to the fourth round
As it stands, the Chaps are third in District, behind Lake Travis and Bowie. If the playoffs were to start today, they would hold the second seed in Division 2 and play state-ranked Pflugerville Hendrickson in the first round.