Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: DeSoto defense dominates Coppell in area round, putting Eagles four wins from state title
ALLEN — DeSoto running back Dontre Wilson reached up to grab a screen pass, stutter-stepped to his right, blew past a pair of defenders and then did a 360-degree spin to get around another. His 46-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was the flashiest highlight-reel moment in DeSoto’s 42-14 win over Coppell on Saturday.
But DeSoto is still four wins from the highlight that it has long craved: raising a championship trophy. And in that regard, the most spectacular play in its Class 5A Division I area-round win came from its defense.
Not one play. All day. And that’s something DeSoto has been missing in playoff losses in recent years.
“I told our guys that defense wins championships for us,” DeSoto coach Claude Mathis said. “Our defense played lights out.”
As much as anything, that turned out the lights on Coppell (11-1), which had averaged 32 points per game. DeSoto (12-0), which advanced to the third round for the second time in three years, allowed only 252 total yards and forced Coppell to punt six times.
“We wanted to prove that we could play disciplined, physical, fundamental football,” said senior defensive lineman Dorian Yearby.
DeSoto did all those things, and as usual, its offense was magnificent. Desmon White completed 9 of 14 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score. Wilson rushed 24 times for 204 yards and three scores and also owned the highlight-reel touchdown reception.
Operating against a defense that had allowed only 215 yards and eight points per game, the Eagles had 216 yards and 20 points by the end of the first quarter. Then came Wilson’s catch and run, which dazzled the 12,000 fans at Eagle Stadium and extended DeSoto’s lead to 28-7 midway through the second quarter.
DeSoto knew how critical a quick start would be.
“It was very important,” Wilson said, “because once Coppell scores first, they hold the ball a lot.”
Against DeSoto’s defense, however, Coppell couldn’t string together many first downs.
The Cowboys cut DeSoto’s lead to 14-7 in the first quarter on a 76-yard drive that ended with Colby Mahon’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Smith, who had seven catches for 81 yards in the game. But Coppell’s next seven possessions ended in five punts, a turnover on downs and an interception.
The Cowboys, who can wear down defenses with long drives built on runs and play-action passes, managed only 35 yards rushing on 31 attempts. Their second touchdown didn’t come until DeSoto had built a 42-7 lead in the fourth quarter.
It was DeSoto’s most complete playoff performance in Mathis’ tenure. In recent years, DeSoto’s turbocharged offense wasn’t enough to overcome a defense that hit the skids in the playoffs. In playoff losses dating to 2008, they allowed an average of 51 points.
On Saturday, however, DeSoto’s defense was fantastic. It was every bit as stingy as its offense was spectacular, and that was a potent combination against an excellent Coppell team.
“I knew our defense was going to step up tremendously this year,” Wilson said. “They really stepped up today.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon.