Written by Corbett Smith
Heartstopper: DeSoto stuffs Southlake Carroll on final 3 plays near goal line, moves closer to 5A-I state title
UNIVERSITY PARK – DeSoto didn’t need one stop. It needed three.
Southlake Carroll was knocking at the goal line, down by four points. The Dragons were just 3 yards and 12 seconds away from the state semifinals.
It seemed all too familiar. Bruising Carroll quarterback Kenny Hill already had five touchdowns, driving toward the same end zone where he made his legend a year ago – on the famous Silver Fox touchdown in the waning seconds against Skyline.
Yet DeSoto was determined to write its own history.
Hill was stopped three times, the final two coming inside the 1-yard line, as DeSoto held on to a 49-45 win over Carroll in the 5A Division I Region I final at SMU’s Ford Stadium.
DeSoto (14-0) faces Allen (13-1) next week for a shot at the 5A Division I final.
“Our guys, they kept believing,” DeSoto defensive coordinator Kendrick Brown said. “To stop him three times, I just can’t say enough about these kids. I’m still in awe right now.
“Our defense, you bend all game, and then right there at the end? That’s epic right there.”
As time expired, DeSoto linebackers Taylor Young and Vernon Johnson fought off blocks to get to Hill right at the goal line. Hill fumbled and recovered ball, stretching into the end zone. But officials ruled, after a short conference, that Hill was down before the fumble. DeSoto fans – already on the field but paused in celebration – went crazy.
“We already knew we were going to stop him,” Young said. “It was automatic.”
Throughout the fourth quarter, it seemed that whichever defense made a stop would win the game.
“The second half, we knew we needed some more stops,” DeSoto coach Claude Mathis said. “With those guys, we knew it was going to be a track meet. We made enough stops the second half for our offense to score.”
Both beleaguered defenses rose to the challenge.
DeSoto receiver-turned-defensive back Rickey Daniels gave his team an opening to take the lead, batting down a 4th-down pass from Hill midway through the fourth quarter.
On the subsequent drive, Daniels scored on a 13-yard touchdown pass by Desmon White to give DeSoto its first lead since the game’s early minutes.
Carroll running back A.J. Ezzard was stripped on the following drive, but DeSoto couldn’t capitalize. White was stopped on a quarterback dive by a few inches, giving Carroll (12-2) the ball back on the DeSoto 29-yard line with 2:05 remaining – and setting up the dramatic final drive.
White passed for 376 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for 139 yards. In the second quarter, trailing 24-6 and with running back Dontre Wilson hobbled with a leg injury, White rallied DeSoto to two touchdowns before halftime to pull the deficit to three.
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN.