Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Southlake Carroll unveils its playoff magic, beats Skyline, 28-24
Mad dash on the field by a fox adds to legend as classic ends with frantic Carroll comeback
UNIVERSITY PARK – With seven state titles, the Southlake Carroll football program has had a lot of magical moments. To get a shot an eighth, however, it needed to pull a magic trick Saturday night in its 28-24 win over Skyline.
That’s what it felt like, anyway, as Carroll turned defeat into victory by scoring a touchdown, recovering an onside kick and then scoring again in a span of 21 seconds. In a puff of smoke, Carroll pulled a rabbit out of the hat and knocked the Raiders out of the playoffs in front of 20,000 at SMU’s Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
“It’s such a surreal moment,” Carroll receiver Ray Crockett said. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
Carroll (15-0), which will face Fort Bend Hightower on Saturday for the Class 5A Division I championship, had rallied to win its last two playoff games. But those two victories, and few games in Carroll’s rich football history, will compare to Saturday’s wild finish.
Skyline led 24-14 with 2:26 left after a 34-yard field goal by Juan Ramos. And then Carroll drove 80 yards for a touchdown in one minute, Crockett recovered an onside kick, and then Carroll drove 50 yards for the winning score – against one of the state’s best defenses.
Hard to compare with that, right?
Oh yeah, and there’s one other thing. Can any other game compare to one where an emotion-reversing, game-winning touchdown is upstaged by a fox running on the field?
Well, I’m not sure that anything at Ford Stadium could’ve upstaged the 35-yard touchdown run by quarterback Kenny Hill that gave the Dragons’ their first lead with 46 seconds left. With Carroll trailing 24-21 and trying to get in range for a game-tying field goal, Hill busted free, spun away from a defender and then raced down the right sideline.
But while Hill did it, there was something he never thought he would face. A fox was running toward him down the middle of the field.
“I saw it run by,” said Hill, who ran for three touchdowns in the game. “That was just weird.”
That’s a good word for it. As Carroll players celebrated in the north end zone, the fox continued running toward the south end zone, and then up the berm that surrounds the field. Nobody seemed to know where the fox came from, but some said they saw it earlier in the game.
Perhaps the victory was fated for Carroll. Former Carroll quarterback Chase Wasson, who led the Dragons to their first 5A title in 2002, was wearing a hat that said “Silverfox Swag.” It was in reference to his dad, Carroll coach Hal Wasson, who he calls the Silver Fox because of his silvery hair.
For most of Saturday night, it seemed like Carroll was fated to be the latest victim of Skyline (14-1), which took command with a stingy defense and an offense directed by junior Devante Kincade, who passed for 194 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 112 yards.
Carroll’s defense kept the Dragons in the game through three quarters. It set up a short touchdown drive with an interception in the second quarter, and then stopped Skyline on a fourth down near midfield in the third quarter to set up another. But when Skyline extended its lead to 24-14, even the keep-the-faith Dragons had to be wavering a little.
The Carroll coaches had talked to their players about how winning a championship would be like climbing a mountain.
“We had told them that the oxygen would get a lot thinner up on top,” Wasson said, “and I tell you what, it got pretty thin during that fourth quarter stretch.”
The Dragons were gasping a bit, but they still had breath. They also had a clutch performer in Hill, who is often like a magician with the way he can conjure up a big play in the biggest moments.
He did it again Saturday, avoiding the Skyline defenders – and a fox – on his way to Carroll lore.
“The emotions are just going everywhere. Flying through my body, flying through all our bodies,” Carroll linebacker Will Davis said. “It’s got to be one of the greatest games in Dragon history. This is a game for the ages.”
Carroll will face Fort Bend Hightower (13-2) in the 5A Division I championship at 4 p.m. Saturday at Cowboys Stadium.