ARLINGTON, Texas -- Despite putting together a strong season in just its second year in 5A, Mansfield Timberview has flown under the radar.
Maybe upsetting a state title contender at Cowboys Stadium will get some attention.
Timberview forced a turnover on downs on a potential game-winning drive in the final minute to secure a 27-21 win over Flower Mound Marcus on Saturday, making the Wolves one of the surprise stories of the playoffs so far.
Timberview (10-2) advances to play Abilene Cooper (9-3) on Saturday at Abilene's Shotwell Stadium in the Class 5A Division II Region I semifinals.
"Almost all year we've been under the radar," Timberview quarterback Chuck Taylor said. "We've been underdogs. We always come through with the win and prove people wrong."
Timberview took a 27-21 lead on a Nick Cannon field goal with 3:57 left in the game, and Marcus (10-2) moved methodically down the field on the ensuing drive.
But Timberview's defense clipped quarterback Cole Erwin on third down at the Timberview 23-yard line with less than a minute remaining, setting up a fourth-and-4. Out of a Wildcat formation, Deion Sanders ran the ball up the middle but came up inches short, sealing the win for Timberview.
"We worked our kids hard in the offseason," said Timberview head coach Mark Walker, whose team finished 3-7 last year. "We set a dream in front of them. It was up to them to buy into it, and they have."
The Wolves held Marcus' powering running game to one of its lowest outputs of the year (198 yards). Jeff Smiley ran for 159 yards, but 86 of that came on a touchdown run in the second quarter.
"Our defense has been good against the run all year," Taylor said. "They just came through again. Two weeks in a row they came through."
Meanwhile, Timberview's offense, led by Taylor, came up with big plays at the most important moments. The unit went a phenomenal 11-for-17 on third down, which allowed the Wolves to go on the long, time-consuming scoring drives that Marcus is accustomed to producing.
"On third down we always find something inside of us and always come through," said Taylor, who went 12-for-16 for 220 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 100 yards and a score.
The two teams traded touchdowns for the entire game. Marcus never held the lead, and Timberview couldn't get two scores ahead.
That trend didn't break even in the end. With the game tied at 21, Cannon booted two field goals in the fourth quarter to put Timberview up by six before Timberview's defense got the stop to end the game.