A punt snap, an interception and a missed extra point proved to be the great equalizers in the District 5-A Division I championship race Friday night.
All three plays went in Hico's favor and made the three-point difference in a 9-6 upset of Goldthwaite at Tiger Stadium that leaves the teams splitting the league title three ways along with San Saba.
It's the first district football title for Hico since 2002, and has the Tigers (7-3, 3-1) headed back to the state playoffs after a one-year hiatus and a move from 2A to 1A.
Tiebreakers leave the Tigers as the two seed from District 5, and they get
Kerens, the third-place team from District 6, in bi-district at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Robinson.
Goldthwaite opened the scoring with a short quarterback sneak to cap its second possession late in the first quarter, but the extra point kick failed and Hico answered quickly.
It took just two plays and a 15-yard Goldthwaite penalty for Colton Stegall to find Brandon Snyder with a touchdown pass for a 7-6 lead.
With both defenses standing their ground the rest of the night, a mistake finally changed the score early in the fourth quarter. Pinned deep in its own territory and forced to punt, Goldthwaite fell victim to a high snap and was forced to kick the ball out of the end zone for a safety.
Freshman Blake Hyles then made arguably the play of the night for the Tigers, intercepting a Goldthwaite pass. Hico got the ball into the Eagle red zone, and even though the drive stalled, only 2:03 remained and Goldthwaite was unable to to take advantage of its final opportunity.
Follow Brad Keith on Twitter @etsports