HICO — When it all came down to it, the freshmen of Gordon were cool as cucumbers.
The young Longhorns trailed Blum, 48-36, to start the fourth quarter of Friday's area showdown. A key stop on fourth-and-two put the ball in Gordon's hands, and they most definitely did not crack under pressure. Freshman Riley Reed had a huge carry on second down to the Blum 6-yard-line, and punched it in seconds later. Juan Cabrera's kick after closed the gap to just four with 4:02 to play.
The Bobcats fumbled on the first play of their next drive, and the Horns were all over it, with Cabrera recovering at the Blum 35. Reed took the ball again, racing down the sidelines to give Gordon its first recent lead, 52-48.
Back-to-back penalties put the Bobcats in a big hole, of which they would not get out.
Another fumble gave Gordon possession with a minute-and-a-half to go, too much time for them to take a knee with Blum's timeouts. But the Bobcats had a big blunder, picking up a flag for a late hit that gave the Longhorns a first down and allowed them to run the clock out.
It was the first real test for the Longhorns this season, who opened the night with a bang on a 70-yard kickoff return by Reed.
An interception by Cabrera would ultimately lead to a touchdown pass from Stryker Reed to Whit Fuller to put the Longhorns out front, 16-0.
The Bobcats got on the board with a big kickoff return themselves, but Gordon countered with a 68-yard keeper by Stryker Reed. When the dust settled and the first quarter ended, the Longhorns led 22-16.
The second quarter started out with a much slower pace, and Blum rallied back to take a 24-22 lead with 1:09 on the clock. Gordon would add another score of its own when Fuller found Brayden Walters on a big pass play. After a blocked kick, the score was 28-24 Longhorns at the break.
Blum powered back in the third scoring twice while stopping Gordon, but the Longhorns managed to break free at the end of the quarter when Reed found the end zone, one play after he appeared to have crossed the end zone but was ruled short. Cabrera's kick made it 40-36.
Gordon (12-0) will take on Abbott (12-0) for a battle of the undefeated in the regional semifinal the week of Thanksgiving. Abbott defeated Union Hill, 58-10, Friday night.