Written by Corbett Smith
Allen crushes Spring Westfield, 48-13; advances to 5A state semifinals
AUSTIN – It was a fitting ending to an atypical Allen game.
Heading into Saturday morning without knowing if its buses could get out of an ice-bound town, and playing without its usual entourage – no band, no drill team and only 500 or so brave fans willing to suffer the freezing conditions at Round Rock ISD’s Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex – Allen waltzed over Spring Westfield, 48-13, in the 5A Division I Region II final. Then, it marched into the stands, saying thanks to the fans for coming – and getting high-fives and even a pizza in return.
“We got out here and did our thing,” Allen center Tejan Koroma said.
Allen’s “thing” was its usual domination, scoring on the first offensive play from scrimmage for the second time in three games. After Westfield fumbled away its opening drive, quarterback Kyler Murray immediately hit Jalen Guyton in stride for a 37-yard score (Seven of Guyton’s 12 catches in the playoffs have been for touchdowns).
Allen (14-0) averaged just four plays on each of its seven scoring drives, with nothing longer than a seven-play drive.
“We’re always able to come out sometime in the first three plays of the game and get out on top,” Koroma said. “It really makes a difference – for the defense too, getting the other team down. It really is a good deal that we keep doing that.”
The times Westfield (13-1) found some offensive success, Allen – seemingly instinctive – slammed the door shut on any hope of a comeback. Trailing 14-0, Westfield embarked on a 22-play drive that lasted nearly nine minutes, converting its third 4th down of the drive when quarterback Courtland Greenwood scored on a 1-yard sneak.
Yet, on the following possession, Allen skipped down the field in short order, scoring in four plays when Murray pulled the ball down and scrambled for a 30-yard touchdown.
Murray passed for 195 yards, rushed for 169 yards and accounted for five scores, but it wasn’t a vintage performance. He was intercepted twice while throwing into double coverage, and fumbled after getting blindsided on a sack in the third quarter.
However, his response to the fumble – which eventually resulted in Westfield’s other score – was amazing. On the first play of Allen’s next possession, Murray sensed pressure and ran – outracing Westfield defenders for an 80-yard touchdown run.
“The whole thing about him is that he’s probably one of the most competitive guys out here,” Allen coach Tom Westerberg said. “Things didn’t go right on that pass protection, and then he turns it right around. They had the momentum – and bam.”
Allen’s defense was equally as impressive, holding Westfield’s potent rushing attack to an average of 2.39 yards on 59 carries.
“We knew they were a run team and that they were pretty good,” linebacker Christian Sam said. “Our game plan was to just be physical.
“We didn’t want to be the team that gets knocked out, looking ahead.”
Now, Allen waits to see its opponent for the semifinal – facing the winner of Monday’s Region I final between DeSoto (13-0) and Euless Trinity (11-2).
Westerberg said the semifinal would be on Saturday afternoon at Mesquite Memorial Stadium, allowing only five days between games for its opponent. The short turnaround will be a distinct advantage for Allen, Westerberg acknowledged. It could also help get Allen outside linebacker Tay Evans back on the field. Evans, an Oklahoma pledge, injured his ankle on the first play of the game, returning to the sidelines out of his uniform in the second half.
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN
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