Written by Matt Wixon
'Just keep pounding them:' Allen wears down Skyline in 37-17 win in 5A-I regional final
MESQUITE – With missed opportunities and mistakes Saturday, Skyline dug itself a hole at Memorial Stadium. And as the Class 5A Division I Region I final wore on, Allen’s shovel kept looking bigger and bigger in the Eagles’ 37-17 victory.
Allen (13-1), which will face DeSoto (14-0) in the state semifinals, is as good as any team at kicking dirt on a comeback attempt. Allen’s defense doesn’t give up big plays, its offense can score quickly on one drive and melt the clock the next, and the Eagles always seem to wear down their opponent.
“We work on physicality every week. We never stop,” said senior offensive lineman Brad North. “We always play hard. We play our hearts out.”
Skyline (12-2) did the same. But although the heart was still there in the fourth quarter, Skyline’s energy and spirit was flagging. Part of the reason was a nightmarish 90-second stretch at the start of the second half, when Skyline fumbled away the kickoff, Allen scored a touchdown and then Skyline fumbled away another kickoff.
Allen added a field goal after the second fumble, and the 17-7 halftime lead had swelled to 27-7 before Skyline’s offense had taken the field in the third quarter. The first kickoff was muffed, the second was stripped, and each time, an Allen player was quickly on top of the ball.
“We were there two times in a row,” said Oliver Pierce, the jack-of-all-trades senior who recovered the first fumble. “That kind of changed the momentum, and we just kept it going.”
In a big way. After Skyline cut the lead to 27-10, Allen responded with a speedy backbreaker: a four-play, 86-yard touchdown drive in 56 seconds. The drive ended when Kyler Murray, who finished with 21 rushes for 122 yards and two touchdowns, scored on a 6-yard run.
“We came out and we played physical. Our offensive line just pounded them,” Murray said. “That’s what we preach. Just keep pounding them and pounding them.”
And the Allen defense just kept stopping them. Skyline senior quarterback Devante Kincade rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown, but he completed only 19 of 37 passes. He connected with his favorite target, senior receiver Ra’Shaad Samples, only four times for 40 yards.
“They like to throw the ball to him, and we put a linebacker over him and that kind of threw them off their rhythm,” Allen coach Tom Westerberg said. “That was huge for us.”
Everything seemed to work out in a big way for Allen. Skyline tied the game early in the second quarter and drove deep into Allen on its next drive. But first-and-goal at the 7-yard line became fourth-and-goal at the 3, and Skyline missed a short field goal.
Murray’s 24-yard touchdown run gave Allen a 14-7 lead with 2:11 left in the half, and when Skyline failed to get a first down on its next drive, the Eagles’ were able to take advantage of a nine-yard punt and kick a 36-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
“The big key was getting that field goal right before half and getting the two-score lead,” Westerberg said. “Then there was the turnover and the turnover and we could build on the lead a little more.”
That was enough to bury Skyline. And Allen just kept adding dirt.
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter @mattwixon.