Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Allen stuns Marcus in comeback win, validates No. 1 ranking
FLOWER MOUND — After a third straight come-from-behind victory, some might question whether Allen should be the top-ranked team in the state. But in Friday’s 38-35 victory over Flower Mound Marcus, Allen proved once again that it’s No. 1 when it counts.
Trailing Marcus 35-31 with 1:40 left in the showdown of District 8-5A’s last undefeated teams, Allen drove 80 yards for the winning touchdown at Marauder Stadium. Quarterback Alec Morris threw a 16-yard pass to Oliver Pierce, his only catch of the game, for the winning score with eight seconds left.
“Before the last drive,” Morris said, “I pulled the offensive linemen aside and said, ‘We’re going to go win it.’”
Allen did it with a final drive that included a 17-yard pass to Tony Adams, an 18-yard run by Jonathan Williams and a key 9-yard scramble by Morris on a third-and-10. Marcus was paying special attention to Allen receiver Andrew Rodriguez on the drive, and for good reason. The senior had caught four passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns.
That left some space for Pierce on a seam route. The junior pulled in the winning reception to cap Allen’s third straight fourth-quarter comeback.
“The last few weeks, it’s taken us a quarter or two to get it going,” Rodriguez said.
But after that, watch out.
“8-5A is our district,” Morris said. “And it’s going to stay that way.”
That looked in jeopardy as Allen (8-0, 5-0) didn’t take its first lead until the third quarter. Allen trailed 28-21 at halftime, but it slowed down Marcus’ powerful rushing attack for most of the second half. Marcus, which rushed for 414 yards, scored its only touchdown of the second half with 1:40 left.
That was when speedy running back Jeff Smiley burst off the right side, beat the Allen defenders to the sideline and raced away for a 26-yard touchdown. At that point, it looked like Marcus (7-1, 4-1) might finally get the statement victory it has sought the last three seasons.
The Marauders, ranked No. 6 in SportsDay’s 5A area rankings, pushed around Allen’s defense in the first half. But in the third quarter, Allen’s defense only allowed two first downs.
“We were not trying to move people around like we did in the first half,” Allen coach Tom Westerberg said. “We just lined up and played base and got after it. We challenged the kids to play a little bit better and they did.”
Allen’s defense forced a pair of punts and intercepted a pass in the third quarter to help the Eagles tie the game on a 60-yard pass to Rodriguez. Allen then took its first lead, 31-28, on a 34-yard field goal by Carlos Arochi with 1:04 left in the third.
“It’s all about resiliency,” said Morris, who completed 17 of 30 for 341 yards and four touchdowns. “We know that when we’re down, we’re never out.”