Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Allen-Pearland: Matchups and prediction; will it be a blowout?
Allen vs. Pearland
4 p.m. Saturday, AT&T Stadium (FSSW)
How Allen (15-0) got here: d. Southlake Carroll 49-27, d. Cedar Hill 39-20, d. Richardson 52-7, d. Hebron 36-17, d. Coppell 31-10, d. Plano East 62-17, d. Plano West 77-37, d. McKinney Boyd 49-26, d. McKinney 56-7, d. Plano 42-13, d. Lake Highlands 63-6, d. Mesquite Horn 42-14, d. The Woodlands 56-21, d. Spring Westfield 48-13, d. DeSoto 42-35.
How Pearland (14-1) got here: d. Houston Madison 49-0, d. Fort Bend Kempner 49-0, d. Houston Memorial 42-3, d. Pasadena 63-6, d. Pasadena Rayburn 62-0, d. Alvin 43-0, d. Pasadena South Houston 56-12, d. Pasadena Memorial 52-6, lost to Manvel 42-7, d. Pasadena Dobie 38-7, d. Deer Park 42-20, d. Fort Bend Austin 39-15, d. Houston Lamar 21-13, d. Houston Cy-Fair 10-3, d. San Antonio Madison 38-34.
When Allen runs
Allen boasts a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in QB Kyler Murray and RB Jaelen Barlow. The team averages 223.9 rushing yards behind an offensive line that includes BYU pledge Tejan Koroma, Oklahoma pledge Bobby Evans and sophomore Greg Little, who already owns offers to seven Big 12 schools. Pearland is allowing just 79.9 rushing yards per game. LB Justin Phillips, an Oklahoma State pledge, has 15 tackles for loss.
When Allen passes
Junior QB Kyler Murray is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, passing for 3,389 yards and running for 1,086 more. He has thrown or run for a touchdown of 68 yards or more in each of Allen’s last four playoff victories. Pearland has a few options to slow Allen’s vertical game. DT Kevin Harvey and DE Deonte Givens have combined for 26 of Pearland’s 42 sacks. DBs Zachary Kanipes and Caleb Farris have six interceptions apiece.
When Pearland runs
Junior RB JaColbie Butler is the engine of the offense, rushing for 1,536 yards and 25 touchdowns. He gains 8.6 yards per carry. Four more players have 40-plus carries, and Pearland averages 207.8 rushing yards. Allen’s linebacker corps includes Arizona State pledge Christian Sam and Oklahoma pledge Tay Evans. Allen allows 156.6 rushing yards per game, and it held Cedar Hill, Southlake Carroll, Hebron, Plano East, McKinney and Mesquite Horn under 100 yards rushing.
When Pearland passes
Senior QB Connor Heath has been guiding the offense the last three weeks after an injury to starter Kalen Johnson. Heath has 480 passing yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in those games. The offensive line, which is anchored by Boise State pledge Ryan Griswold, has only surrendered seven sacks. Allen fields a strong secondary, including DB Mayomi Olootu, who is committed to Northern Illinois and has eight pass break-ups. Allen allows 141.5 passing yards per game, and it’s held each of its past three opponents below that mark.
Pearland has scored 11 touchdowns on kick returns this season and has yet to give one up. Junior K Nicholas Keller is 5 for 7 on field goals and has made 74 for 79 on PATs. Allen’s Mayomi Olootu is a force on special teams. The 5-9, 165-pound cornerback blocked two punts in a game against Cedar Hill. He also returned a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown against Hebron.
Both teams have been in their current situations before. Allen beat Houston Lamar in last year’s state title game at AT&T Stadium, and QB Kyler Murray was the championship game MVP. But No. 1 Allen won’t intimidate Pearland, which beat top-ranked and undefeated Euless Trinity in the 2010 title game.
Prediction: Allen 34, Pearland 17