[By Nathan Wright, Special to ETSN.fm]

BULLARD - It would be hard to pinpoint the biggest play for the Brook Hill Guard in the fourth quarter of its 35-34 victory against Houston Northland Christian Friday night at Herrington Field.

It could have been quarterback Grant Hanks’ 20-yard scramble on fourth-and-16 from the Brook Hill 31-yard line to set up the touchdown that tied the game at 28 with 9:45 remaining in the game. 

It could have been the blocked extra point by the Guard that made it a six-point game instead of seven when the Cougars scored with 9:17 remaining to go to go ahead 34-28.

It could have been the touchdown reception by Ty Brown off a tipped ball in the end zone with 4:26 left that gave Brook Hill a 35-34 lead after the Guard was able to convert its extra point.

But the game’s biggest play came at the very end.

It was the last chance for the Cougars. Seven yards from a game-winning touchdown, the team was called for holding and then threw an incomplete with four seconds remaining to set up a dramatic ending.

Northland elected not to kick a 32-yard field goal that would have won it and instead went for a touchdown on second-and-goal from the 17-yard line with four seconds on the clock.

The Guard was able to corral opposing quarterback Michael Masarella In the backfield and took him down as time ran out.

With the victory, the Guard will face a familiar foe in Tyler Bishop Gorman in the state quarterfinal round of the TAPPS Division II playoffs. The game will be played Nov. 22 at 4 p.m. at West Rusk High School.

Brook Hill won the district meeting between the two teams, 36-20.

Before it could get to that game, the Guard had its hands full with Northland Christian.

The game went back-and-forth for the first half. Brook Hill scored first on a seven-yard pass from Hanks to Ryan Cox and the Cougars answered on their next possession on a short run to tie the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.

Brook Hill retook the lead on its next possession on a 24-yard pass from Hanks to Jacob Dumesil. Northland Christian answered right back with a 47-yard touchdown pass of its own to with 2:12 to go in the opening period.

Midway through the second quarter, the Guard regained the lead on a six-yard pass from Hanks to Cox to make it 21-17 with 7:14 remaining in the first half. It looked like Brook Hill might take the lead into halftime, but, with 14 seconds on the clock, the Cougars scored on a two-yard run to tie the game at 21-21.

The Guard opened the second frame with a long drive, but Hanks threw an interception on third-and-goal from the Northland 9-yard line. The Cougars took big advantage of the mistake with a score for a 28-21 advantage.

Northland took that lead into the fourth quarter, where the Guard began to come up with big play after big play and advance with a one-point victory.

Hanks, a senior, completed 23 of 40 passes for 343 yards and five touchdowns.

Kris McCune rushed for 91 yards and Brown added 58 as the Guard finished the contest with 512 yards of offense.