Texas team reaches playoffs by intentionally losing by more points in final moments

In the 1982 World Cup, West Germany and neighboring Austria played to a 1-0 West German victory. That wasn’t such a surprise. It was how the teams got there that earned the moniker the “disgrace of Gijon,” with the two nations realizing that they would both advance to the elimination rounds with a narrow German victory, showing little interest in competing once West Germany had the lead.

That scenario played out in high school football in Texas, with an even more dramatic twist: One team actively helped the other increase its lead to undercut an opponent’s opportunity to reach the playoffs at its expense.

Here’s how the final week of the regular season played out in Texas’ District 27-5A, as detailed by the Austin American-Statesman:

On Wednesday, District 27-5A coaches decided to clarify the wording in their rule book in case tiebreakers were needed to determine playoff qualifiers. It was decided that in the event of a three-way tie between Alamo Heights, Lockhart and San Marcos, the district’s third playoff berth would be determined through a points system. The result of the game between the last two teams standing would dictate the district’s final postseason representative.

Lockhart beat Alamo Heights 44-36 on Sept. 25 while Alamo Heights handed San Marcos a 63-53 loss on Oct. 2.

If Kerrville Tivy — the sixth-ranked team in the Class 5A state poll — beat Alamo Heights, San Marcos needed to defeat Lockhart by at least seven points to qualify for the playoffs.

Lockhart, which relies on a run-heavy Slot-T offense, regained the football at its 33 with 2:24 to play. At that point, the timeout-less Lions had two options. If they could score a touchdown, San Marcos’ lead would be cut to fewer than seven points and the Rattlers would be eliminated from playoff consideration. If San Marcos won by at least 13 points, though, the Rattlers would win the first tiebreaker — and Lockhart would eliminate Alamo Heights through the second tiebreaker so long as the Mules lost to Tivy.

Lockhart chose to increase its deficit on the scoreboard.

As noted by the Statesman, the way Lockhart “increased its deficit on the scoreboard” is even more surreal than most might imagine. The Lions intentionally moved backward on a pair of plays before running back Stephon Houston moved into his own end zone and then handed the ball directly to a San Marcos defensive lineman on the second to last play of the game.

The result worked like a charm: San Marcos covered the 13-point edge it needed to own the primary tiebreaker, and Lockhart subsequently eliminated Alamo Heights. The entire scenario is surreal, particularly for an Alamo Heights team that had one of the better odds to make the playoffs entering the final slate of games only to be actively gamed out of the postseason, of no fault of their own. After all, the team that knocked off Alamo Heights was Tivy, a top-10 ranked team in the state’s Class 5A.

Lockhart coach Brian Herman said he had worked out the tiebreaker scenarios in advance and expressed empathy for Alamo Heights but said he owed his seniors a chance at the postseason.

“I couldn’t look the seniors in the eyes and say there was a way to make the playoffs, but we didn’t allow it,” Lockhart coach Herman said. “We had to do what we had to do, and we only did it for our kids and nobody else.”

Tough break? Perhaps. But it was a break made much tougher by a convoluted tie-breaker system that was agreed upon by the coaches themselves.

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