Written by Matt Wixon
Big play sparks Allen's two touchdown comeback over DeSoto in 5A semi
MESQUITE – With less than nine minutes left Saturday, Desmon White dashed into the end zone to put DeSoto up by two touchdowns. On Allen’s side of Mesquite Memorial Stadium, a trickle of red and blue started heading for the exits.
But Allen quarterback Kyler Murray stopped turned the fans around when he dropped a rainbow pass into the arms of Jalen Guyton. After the 68-yard touchdown, Allen could once again see the pot of gold it has worked for all season.
“We hit that big play,” coach Tom Westerberg said after Allen’s 42-35 victory, “and it sparked everything.”
It ignited a dramatic turn of emotion that ended with Allen (15-0) one win from a second straight 5A Division I championship. Allen will play for its third title since 2008 when it meets Pearland at 4 p.m. Saturday at AT&T Stadium.
“We just have some players on this team who refuse to lose,” said Allen senior defensive back Mayomi Olootu.
Midway through the fourth quarter, it didn’t look like those Allen players would have a choice. DeSoto (14-1), facing Allen in the semifinals for the second straight year, took a 35-20 lead on White’s 5-yard run with 8:37 left.
At that point, DeSoto had doubled up Allen in offensive yards and first downs. White had been phenomenal, running inside and outside and converting third downs with highlight-reel scrambles. The senior finished with 29 carries for 189 yards and four touchdowns, and he also completed 14 of 25 passes for 134 yards and a score.
But on the first play after DeSoto extended its lead to 35-20, the momentum turned on Murray’s long pass to Guyton, who finished with six catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
“After DeSoto got that touchdown, Kyler came up to me and said, ‘Yo, it’s you and me,” Guyton said. “We’ve been working on that since the summer, and we’ve got that connection.”
The connection cut DeSoto’s lead to 35-27 with 8:23 left, and Allen’s defense returned to the field rejuvenated. After a chop block put DeSoto in a first-and-25 at its own 16, Allen’s defense dropped runners for losses on back-to-back plays. DeSoto ended up punting, giving Allen the ball back near midfield.
Murray ran for 32 yards on the first play and then threw to Will Rossy at the 2-yard line.
Rossy fumbled the ball, but it went into the hands of Josh Pettijohn, who ran into the end zone. Allen tied the game on a two-point conversion in which Murray was chased backward and toward the right sideline before throwing back to the left, where Guyton was standing alone in the end zone.
DeSoto punted on its next possession and when Allen punted it back, it looked like DeSoto could do no worse than go to overtime. But Allen’s punt was short and bounced into a DeSoto player blocking for the return. Allen pounced on the ball at its 40-yard line with 1:15 left.
“You have to get some breaks in there, and we got some breaks,” Westerberg said. “Sometimes you make your own breaks.”
And if you’re a champion, you take advantage. Allen drove to the DeSoto 24 and called a timeout with 18 seconds left. On the next play, as Allen was trying to get closer for a field goal into the wind, Murray broke free on the left side for a touchdown.
“They really did a good job of stopping me running the ball in the first half,” saidMurray, who had 30 yards rushing before halftime and finished with 20 carries for 159 yards. “In the second half, I just did what I can.”
What Murray can do is pretty impressive. And what Allen can do with one more win will be pretty special. Allen can complete its first perfect season, which is what senior linebacker Christian Sam and his teammates have talked about all year.
“It will be history,” Sam said.
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter @mattwixon.