Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Allen’s victory almost as impressive as its new home in shutout of Carroll
ALLEN — Eighteen thousand seats make Allen’s new Eagle Stadium one of the largest in the state, but it wasn’t big enough Friday night. Thousands of fans had to stand as a crowd of 21,776 packed in to see Allen, Southlake Carroll and the long-awaited, much-discussed, $59.6 million Taj Mahal of high school stadiums.
That made the first game at Eagle Stadium an indelible memory long before its start. The question that remained, as Allen kicked off a new era in Eagles football, was whether that memory would include the first victory by the home team.
Yes it would, and that 24-0 victory would be nearly as impressive as Allen’s new digs.
The Eagles won their stadium debut by handing the defending Class 5A Division I champion its worst loss in years and its first shutout since 1997.
“It was just amazing,” said Allen senior linebacker Nick Cobb. “It was crucial for us to win our first game, because there are a lot of people who didn’t expect much from us.”
That will change dramatically after the way Allen, No. 5 in SportsDay’s 5A area rankings, put away No. 2 Carroll. Allen had lost all five of its previous matchups with Carroll, but this time, the Eagles took control early.
Allen scored on its first possession, and the defense made sure that would be enough. Allen’s defensive front got a huge push all night, and Carroll couldn’t establish a ground attack. Allen held Carroll to 290 total yards, forced six punts and recovered two fumbles.
Allen spread its offense around, starting with two effective quarterbacks: senior Oliver Pierce and sophomore Kyler Murray. Pierce ran for 54 yards and a touchdown, and Murray completed eight of 14 passes for 154 yards. Four players carried the ball, and four players — including Pierce — had at least two receptions.
Pierce scrambled to convert a pair of third downs on Allen’s first drive in its new stadium, which ended with a 1-yard touchdown by Jeff Harris. Carroll’s best chance of the first half ended with a missed 38-yard field goal.
It looked like it would be a 7-0 game at the half, but then Allen’s special teams made a huge play when Cameron Hartsfield blocked a punt to set up a first-and-goal at the 2 with 43 seconds left. Pierce scored on a 2-yard run on the next play, giving Allen a 14-0 lead at the half.
After Allen pushed its lead to 21-0 in the third quarter, Carroll’s last gasp came on a drive into Eagles territory early in the fourth. The drive ended like many of Carroll’s, with Allen’s defensive front pushing into the backfield to disrupt a play. On fourth-and-13 at the 27, lineman Jordan Radcliffe hit Kenny Hill’s arm as he was throwing and the ball fell incomplete.
The play clinched the win on a night when Allen was nearly as impressive as its staggering stadium.
“I don’t think that you’re going to get a better high school atmosphere than this,” Pierce said. “I’ll take this over Cowboys Stadium any day.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter @mattwixon.