Written by Jon Machota
Locker talk: Argyle's keys to victory over Fairfield
ARLINGTON — Tempers were flaring in the Argyle locker room at halftime Friday night. Giving up 21 unanswered points in the second quarter of the 3A Division II state championship game will do that to a team.
But coach Todd Rodgers and his staff calmed their group and made defensive adjustments, propelling Argyle to its first state title with a 38-33 victory over Fairfield at AT&T Stadium.
“They were just upset that things had gone that way,” Rodgers said. “I got in and said, ‘The things that happened, we can fix.’ We were able to mend the fences and right the ship.”
The final touchdown of the half may have been the most frustrating because it came on fourth-and-23 from the Argyle 39. Argyle (16-0) decided not to play prevent defense and went with bump-and-run man coverage.
Fairfield (15-1) burned the Eagles with a precise pass down the far sideline.
One of Argyle’s halftime adjustments paid off on the game-winning red zone stop in the final minutes. The Eagles’ coaches decided to slow their defensive tackles so they weren’t creating running gaps by being too aggressive.
On fourth-and-4 from the Argyle 11, Fairfield running back Larry Rose was swarmed by defensive linemen and stopped short.
Running on empty: Rose played cornerback for about half the game and rushed 26 times for 260 yards and two touchdowns, which may have left him with little energy on Fairfield’s final possession.
“I was pretty gassed, but my team needed me to stay in the game,” Rose said. “I just had to suck it up. Like coach always says, you can rest tomorrow.”
Rose, the 3A offensive player of the year, has played both ways all season and averaged 220 yards and four touchdowns during the regular season.
Fairfield coach John Bachtel acknowledged that playing both ways affected his star player Friday night.
“We have who we have,” Bachtel said. “We’re going to play our best players and we’re going to give it a run.”
Not entertaining for all: Five lead changes made for some good entertainment for the 22,071 in attendance.
But not everyone enjoyed all 48 minutes.
“From a head coach’s position, I wouldn’t describe it as fun,” Rodgers said. “I would describe it as nauseating.
“The winning part is the fun part. To toil that long and to have those kind of goals set and have those kind of expectations and not achieve them, we’ve tasted that soup. We wanted that sweet dessert, and that sweet dessert was winning that state championship.”