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'Just mayhem': An oral history of one of the greatest Texas high school football games ever

30 years ago, two North Texas schools faced off in one of the best high school football games ever. And those who played it still remember it like it was yesterday.

Ryan Osborne

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Published: 8:02 AM CST November 10, 2022
Updated: 5:27 PM CST December 19, 2022

They hold their own memories of the same story.

But 30 years later, when the conversation turns to the night of Nov. 27, 1992, it almost always begins with the same thing. 

That wall, and all the fans climbing over it.

"I had never experienced anything like that," said Jeff Croy, the safety and co-captain for the 1992 Southlake Carroll High School football team. "You didn't know what was about to happen -- but it was probably going to be special, whatever it was."

Back then, Bedford's spacious Pennington Field was still freshly built with its 12,500 seats. But that night, there wasn't enough room for everyone wanting to watch Carroll play Vernon High School as the two schools squared off in the third round of the Class 3A football playoffs.

So fans poured over the walls and onto the sidelines, fully surrounding the endzones. But even the ones who paid for a ticket got their money's worth. Carroll battled Vernon to a 39-35 win on that night, surviving a heavyweight fight between two teams that rarely caught a punch all season.

There was no Hail Mary winner in this game. No improbable onside kick recovery, either. And certainly no walk-off hook-and-ladder.

Still, the game has become something of a Texas high school football legend over the years, even in a sport filled with them.

"Just two great teams going after it," said Will Mantooth, the Carroll quarterback.

In the years since, the Carroll school district grew larger and larger. And Southlake, then a sleepy country town near the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, became a booming suburb.

But Vernon, in many ways, has stayed the same. It remains a town of around 12,000 people, located about two hours northwest of the Metroplex.

What they share still is the fact that one night, 30 years ago, the two schools – the two towns – went toe-to-toe as equals.

That's why they're still talking about it.

Watch the full game:

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