Hudson Card smiled when he was reminded that many so-called experts predicted Westlake would beat Lake Travis for the third straight year.

For a team that has won six state football championships beginning in 2007, it’s rare when the Cavaliers enter a game as prohibitive underdogs. That was the case against Westlake, a team brimming with confidence and eager to beat its neighborhood rival for the third straight time.

Card described a 26-25 victory over Westlake on Friday night at Cavalier Stadium as the biggest regular-season game of his career. He carried the Cavs on his back, passing for 224 yards, including a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to spark the rally.

Lake Travis (6-1, 5-0 in District 25-6A) needed every pass, every big play, every point to erase any doubt his team would win.

“We saw who everyone was picking, and they were picking Westlake,” he said. “It put a chip on our shoulder. We wanted to prove them wrong.”

Westlake had a chance to take a late lead, but a 44-yard field goal attempt by David Leadbetter with 1 minute, 41 seconds left fell short. Lake Travis ran out the clock to snap its two-game losing streak to the Chaps (5-1, 3-1).

Lake Travis coach Hank Carter said several factors led to his team’s win. Card was sensational, of course, but so was receiver Grayson Sandlin, who caught 11 passes for 99 yards and the go-ahead score with 4:10 to play.

Carter also noted a momentum-changing safety his defense scored late in the third quarter. With Westlake holding a 17-10 lead, Raleigh Erwin and Trey Wright combined to tackle Chaps starting quarterback Kirkland Michaux in the end zone.

Lake Travis took the ensuing free kick and claimed the lead. Card hit Kyle Eaves with a 30-yard pass early in the fourth quarter to give the Cavs a 19-17 edge.

Westlake countered with a solid punch of its own to reclaim the lead at 25-19 on a touchdown pass from Cade Klubnik to Jackson Coker and a two-point conversion pass to Mason Mangum.

That simply set the stage for Card’s comeback. He hit Sandlin with a high pass in the right side of the end zone to give Lake Travis the lead for good.

And bring community pride back to Lake Travis.

Westlake, averaging 51 points a game, could not find its offensive groove early, settling for a mere three points in the first half.

Perhaps Lake Travis was agitated that Westlake has been getting statewide praise for its stout defense. For good reason. The Chaps had given up an average of six points through five games, and no team had scored as many as 10 points against them.

Lake Travis, though, put on a defensive clinic led by Wright, linebacker Mauricio Trevino, and cornerback Copeland Gothard.

Blessed with good field position, Card put the Cavs on the scoreboard with a 30-yard pass to Eaves with 3:16 left in the first half. It was Eaves' seventh touchdown of the season.

Both teams kicked field goals to close the first-half scoring. Westlake’s Leadbetter kicked a 37-yarder in the first quarter, and Lake Travis junior Hays McCannon had one from 38 yards in the final seconds of the half.

How ugly were the offenses? Westlake had 88 yards in the first half, Lake Travis 85. The Chaps had 78 yards in penalties in the half, and Michaux had a sure touchdown pass dropped near the goal line.

While the outcome certainly will boost Lake Travis’ morale — at least for a week — the game will not define the season for either team. Both coaches agreed their teams will ultimately be judged by how they fare in the playoffs.

The sixth-ranked Chaps are 57-9 over the past five years while the Cavs are 62-8 over that same span.

“We’ll rebound,” Westlake coach Todd Dodge said as he walked to the locker room. “This was a huge game, a game that means a lot to the communities, but it’s not going to be the biggest game we will play all year. We will learn from this and get better."