Dripping Springs junior Cameron O’Banan has spent most of this season catching passes. On Friday against LBJ, he changed roles just in time as the Tigers captured a crucial District 12-5A DI win at Nelson Field in East Austin

With nine seconds left on the clock, O’Banan floated his final pass of the game toward receiver Andres Flores-Perry, who cradled a 37-yard touchdown reception in the corner of the end zone that lifted Dripping Springs to a thrilling 17-14 win.

“It was slow motion, man, just like in the movies,” he said. “I just threw it up, and I figured he (Flores-Perry) would get there.”

O’Banan, the Tigers’ leading receiver on the season and a Texas pledge as a baseball player, replaced a gimpy Preston Alford at quarterback late in the second quarter. His mobility was crucial in order to dodge a fierce LBJ pass rush, and his moxie helped the Tigers (5-1, 3-0 District 12-5A DI) survive a district tussle in which they only tallied 207 yards.

“We needed to just do something a little bit different,” Dripping Springs coach Galen Zimmerman said about the in-game position switch. “Preston tweaked an ankle, and with that pass rush, we had to have someone more mobile.”

O’Banan, who has experience at quarterback in Dripping Springs’ system, threw for only 108 yards, but 68 of those yards came on the Tigers’ final desperate drive in the game’s final minute.

And what was going through Zimmerman’s mind as O’Banan’s final pass hung in the air?

“Just catch it. Please,” he said. “What an incredible game. I’m telling you, they (LBJ) are unbelievable, and our kids played their hearts out, too.”

With a possible district title on the line, the back-and-forth battle proved worthy of the ramifications. Both teams delivered a gutsy, gritty defensive effort, and both coaches said this type of game will help their team come playoff time.

“We had it, but that’s the way the ball goes,” LBJ coach Jahmal Fenner said. “I hope my kids can learn from this and bounce back, because that’s what it’s all about. It’s a game of inches, a game of seconds, and we still have a long season in front of us.”

Sean Fresch, a Rice commit as a defensive back, rarely left the field for LBJ (4-2, 2-1). He led the short-handed Jags - leading rusher Daqwon Donaldson did not play because of an injury - in rushing with 131 yards and added two catches for 19 yards. He also played lockdown defense at cornerback and provided a return threat in the kicking game.

And the Dripping Springs coaching staff knew it.

Late in the second quarter, a Tiger punt sailed toward Fresch near midfield as the Tiger coaches in the pressbox politely implored their punter to kick it away from the LBJ speedster. Their fears were justified; Fresch fielded the punt and raced 31 yards to the Dripping Springs 5-yard line.

Four plays later, LBJ quarterback Hunter Scott capped a short but adventurous drive by collecting a snap that went over his head and scampering around the left side of the defense for a 1-yard touchdown run and a 7-3 LBJ lead.

But the Jags’ first lead of the game didn’t last long. O’Banan then entered the game at quarterback and led the Tigers on a 63-yard scoring drive capped by a 1-yard dart to Brodie Dyer for a touchdown that gave Dripping Springs a 10-7 halftime lead.

Fresch helped LBJ recapture the lead on the Jags’ opening drive of the second half with a 9-yard scamper, but neither team would score again until Flores-Perry’s dramatic catch in the waning moments of the game.

But the game belonged to the defenses. LBJ linemen Brendan Jones, Gabriel Smith and Fred Givens harassed Alford and O’Banan all game while racking up an unofficial nine sacks. Jones and Smith each had four sacks.

“Oh, man, they are great,” O’Banan said about the Jags’ defensive front. “That No. 9 (Jones), he’s all-world. He’s awesome.”

The Tigers’ defense played awesome, too, while limiting LBJ to 266 total yards. Cornerback Stephen Crosby had an especially strong game while locked up with the Jags’ dangerous receivers in single coverage.

Both LBJ and Dripping Springs still have to play Seguin, which is now tied with Dripping Springs atop the district standings at 3-0.