No. 2-ranked Manvel races past No. 6 Cedar Park in third-round matchup

If any Class 5A, Division I football team hopes to sink unbeaten Manvel this season, that team will need to have all hands on deck.

Unfortunately for the Cedar Park squad that faced the Mustangs on Friday night at Waller ISD Stadium, the Timberwolves had more fight than firepower during a 56-17 loss.

“They’re as good as we thought,” said Cedar Park senior Jackson Buckingham, who totaled double-digit tackles from his linebacker spot. “This hurts, but I’m so proud of these guys and the adveristy that we overcame to get here. I love all these guys.”

The adversity that beset the Timberwolves this fall included the loss of senior defensive back Gunnar Chriswisser and quarterback Mak Sexton, a three-year letterwinner who had a 32-2 record as a starter. Both suffered season-ending injuries during a victory over Georgetown on Oct. 20.

Cedar Park coach Carl Abseck offered no excuses after his team lost a third-round playoff game to Manvel for the second straight season. He praised the Mustangs (12-0), who count at least two dozen players as collegiate recruits, including a trio pledged to Texas A&M.

“That’s a very good team we played, but I’m so proud of each and every one of you” Abseck told his team during an emotional postgame huddle. “Thank you for what you hav doen for this program and our school.”

Cedar Park (11-2) could never gain any traction against Manvel, which entered the game allowing 12.6 points a game. The Timberwolves had just 213 yards of offense; in contrast, Manvel gained more yards on its five scoring plays that covered at least 50 yards.

Cedar Park recorded just 57 yards of offense in the first half and had more punts (six) than first downs (four) as Manvel built a 28-10 lead . The Timberwolves’ lone touchdown in the first half came when sophomore safety Tammer Alzer read the eyes of Manvel quarterback Kason Martin, jumped a route and returned an interception 42 yards for a score with just more than two minutes to play in the first half.

The pick-six trimmed Manvel’s lead to 21-7, but Cedar Park’s surge of momentum was fleeting. On the subsequent kickoff, Kam Scott twisted and pinballed through Timberwolves defenders for an 82-yard TD return.

It was the second huge play in the quarter by Scott, a Missouri pledge. He also scored on an 81-yard reverse.

Manvel also held a big lead at halftime last season before Cedar Park rallied before falling short in the Mustangs’ thrilling 47-35 victory. That was on the mind of his players during the halftime break, said Manvel coach Kurt Martin.

“I told the guys, ‘If you think this is over, you’re sorely mistaken,’ ” he said. “Cedar Park is a second-half team, and we knew they’d keep fighting.”

Heeding their coach’s warning, the Mustangsl stretched their lead to 35-10 when Deneric Prince, an A&M pledge, raced 53 yards for a score on Manvel’s first possession of the third quarter. Manvel then leaned on a ground game that churned out 346 yards while averaging almost 10 yards a carry.

Manvel, which finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press Class 5A state poll, will face Temple next week in a state quarterfinal. Sixth-ranked Cedar Park saw its 11-game winning streak snapped after the Timberwolves posted narrow postseason victories over Magnolia and Ennis.

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