Written by Michael Florek
15-year-old QB Kyler Murray sparks Allen early with 55 and 68-yard TD runs to help win 5A-I state title
ARLINGTON — In the days before the 5A Division I state championship game, Allen coach Tom Westerberg was adamant sophomore quarterback Kyler Murray didn’t have to be the leader of the team or the star. He just had to do his job.
Despite being outshined by Houston Lamar’s Darrell Colbert, that’s exactly what Murray did Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium.
Murray withstood a roller-coaster game as he led Allen to the state title and won offensive MVP, struggling at the start, finding a rhythm and then struggling in the second half.
After Allen didn’t gain a first down on its first drive, Murray faced a fourth-and-4 on Allen’s next drive from the Lamar 35 and overthrew his receiver.
“I wouldn’t say [I was] nervous,” Murray said. “I was excited. First half, I sailed a couple balls, but I calmed down.”
It didn’t take long. Late in the first quarter, Allen faced third-and-9 near midfield. Murray dropped back, waited, didn’t find anybody open, stepped up, slipped a tackle and took off down the sideline for a 55-yard touchdown run that gave Allen the lead, 7-2.
The next time Murray touched the ball, he took off down the left sideline for a 68-yard touchdown. Two plays, two touchdowns and a 12-point Allen lead.
“We told the kids at halftime we had to tackle No. 1,” Lamar coach Tom Nolen said. “We knew it coming in, and he got away from us twice and beat us.”
Murray rushed for 143 yards and accounted for three touchdowns (two rushing and one passing), but passed for just 49 yards. In the meantime, Colbert led Lamar on a third-quarter comeback to tie the score at 21.
Allen’s offense struggled much of the second half, taking advantage of a long kickoff return and a long run by running back Marcus Ward to score its only points. Those were enough.
For Murray, it wasn’t his prettiest game, but it was good enough.
“He played his heart out tonight,” Westerberg said.
Follow Michael Florek on Twitter: @michaelflorek