Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: 48,379 see Allen earn second 5A-I title with 35-21 win over Houston Lamar
ARLINGTON — Allen started the season with the nearly impossible mission of trying to overshadow its new, $59.6 million stadium, which made national headlines. On Saturday, the Eagles did it by making their state-of-the-art home out-of-date.
The huge “State Champions 2008” sign on the scoreboard will now need to change.
With a 35-21 victory over Houston Lamar in the Class 5A Division I championship, Allen (15-1) joined a group of only nine schools that have won multiple 5A titles since the classification was created in 1980.
“It’s absolutely a dream come true,” said senior linebacker Nick Cobb, “especially from watching the ’08 team win state as an eighth grader.”
This Eagles team did it in front of a crowd of 48,379, the largest crowd to watch a high school game at Cowboys Stadium. And they did it with big plays that helped them hang on for the win despite having only 10 first downs and getting outgained by nearly 200 yards.
The biggest of the big plays, or at least the one that finally broke Lamar (15-1), was a 67-yard touchdown run by Marcus Ward with 6:06 left in the game. On first-and-10, Ward ran off tackle to the right and streaked to the end zone to give Allen its final two-touchdown margin.
“That’s what I wanted. I told the coaches, ‘Give me the ball,’” said Ward, who finished with 16 rushes for 121 yards and two touchdowns. “They ended up doing it, and we ended up with the win.”
The Allen defense helped clinch it. Lamar piled up 447 yards and had 25 first downs, but the Eagles’ defense made stops on the final three possessions. It was a tough task against Lamar dual-threat quarterback Darrell Colbert, who passed for 207 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown.
“We just needed to get a stop on defense and get the ball back to our offense,” Cobb said. “Just lay it all on the line. For a lot of these guys, it was their last 12 minutes of football.”
The other big offensive plays came from quarterback Kyler Murray, who rushed for two touchdowns in the first quarter, and Oliver Pierce. After Lamar, the rare team that could match Allen’s power on the lines, tied the game at 21-21 late in the third quarter, Allen looked like it was in trouble.
Allen’s offense, which had punted on its previous three possessions, needed a lift. It got one when Pierce returned the kickoff 80 yards to the Lamar 16-yard line. Five plays later, Ward scored on a 1-yard run to give Allen a 28-21 lead with 26 seconds left in the third quarter.
“We probably didn’t play our best game,” Allen coach Tom Westerberg said, “but we played well enough to win.”
No style points were needed. Allen wanted only the exclamation point. The Eagles got that with a second state title.
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter @mattwixon.