By Michael V. Hannigan/HCN
FRISCO — “We believe.”
That was the chant that rained down from the stands from the time Malakoff ran through the tunnel to take the field to when the Tigers lined up in the victory formation on the last snap to run out the clock on a 23-21 win over Brock Friday at The Star in Frisco.
It is the chant that will follow the Tigers all the way to the State Championship Game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington next Thursday against Grandview.
The Tigers earned their chance at a title by playing a complete game Friday, with the offense, defense and special teams all contributing.
The nail-biting moment came with Malakoff down by four and facing a 4th and 7 from the Brock 11 with just three minutes left in the game. Andreas Garrett drew a pass interference call in the end zone to set up Malakoff with a first and goal from the 2 and Keevie Rose powered in on the next play for the winning points.
Nobody believed Malakoff would ever get this far.
Well, not nobody.
Here are my 10 Observations from the biggest football win in Malakoff school history.
— I’m calling it the prettiest play in Malakoff history … so far … and it was the play that effectively sealed the game for the Tigers. With Brock trailing and facing 4th and 9 with less than two minutes left, the Eagles quarterback rolled right looking for an open receiver. Malakoff’s Colby Rush broke through the line and sacked the quarterback for an 11-yard loss. I’ll be remembering Colby’s No. 32 flash through the backfield for a long time because that’s when I knew the Tigers were going to the State Championship Game.
— The Malakoff defense was incredibly good Friday. Brock is a perennial powerhouse for a reason and the Eagles pounded on the Tigers for 48 minutes, but the Malakoff defense stood strong. Malakoff held Brock without a first down for the entire first quarter and forced the Eagles into three straight three-and-outs to start the game. Then, the Tigers held the Eagles scoreless in the second half. Truly a dominate performance by the defense.
— The last score usually gets all the attention, but the most important points Friday may have been Malakoff’s first. Both Brock and Malakoff scored three touchdowns. Both Brock and Malakoff attempted field goals, but only the Tigers converted theirs. In a two-point win, Hector Romero’s 27-yard field goal on the opening drive was huge.
— Did you notice that Malakoff’s offense used a lot of misdirection? Coach Jamie Driskell said after the game that was the plan. Screens, fake handoffs and plenty of runs by quarterback Darion Peace to keep the Eagles honest. That big 50-yard run by Keevie Rose on the Tigers’ first drive was on what old guys like me call a crossbuck, a classic misdirection play.
— Speaking of the running game, the Tigers ground attack was pretty much feast or famine. Malakoff gained 191 yards rushing for the game, according to my very unofficial stats, but 128 of those came on just three runs. The 50 yarder by Keevie Rose, a 53-yard run by R.J. Carr, and a 25-yard run by Darion Peace.
— Tiger quarterback Darion Peace was impressive throwing the ball Friday, connecting on nine passes for 171 yards and a touchdown. His clutch throws were huge down the stretch as were the catches by Andreas Garret, who had two of his five receptions on Malakoff’s final scoring drive. Let’s also give a huge hand to Kaderrius Thomas who had a 38-yard circus catch for a touchdown in the first half.
— “We Believe” isn’t the only chant that has caught hold in Malakoff. The fans have also been counting down the quarters left to a state title. At the end of last week’s game, they were chanting “Eight More.” Friday, they were chanting “Four more.”
— If you don’t love the Malakoff band it is only because you’ve never heard the Malakoff band. During halftime at The Star, instead of doing a marching routine the band formed a huge “M” at midfield and just rocked the fan favorites: “Shout It Out,” “Neck,” and “Call Out.” The energetic performance had the Malakoff faithful primed for the start of the second half. The Pride of Malakoff Marching Band did just that Friday … it made Malakoff proud.
— So by now you know Malakoff will be playing Grandview 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. But please, please don’t call it Cowboy Stadium for the next week, Ok? That’s a special request from Coach Jamie Driskell and it is connected to some superstition. Look, I don’t know what it means but I don’t have to … It’s AT&T Stadium and nothing else as far as I’m concerned.
— Friday’s scoring plays:
- M – 5:23 1Q – 23-yard field goal, Hector Romero – 3-0
- M – 10:22 2Q – Keevie Rose 1-yard run, kick good – 10-0
- B – 4:09 2Q – Zakk Young 3-yard run, kick good – 10-7
- B – 1:58 2Q – Takota Taylor 1-yard run, kick good – 14-10
- M – 0:37 2Q – Darion Peace 38-yard pass to Kaderrius Thomas, kick good – 17-14
- B – :04 2Q – Tripp Jones 5-yard pass to Baylor Cupp, kick good – 21-17
- M – 3:00 4Q – Keevie Rose 2-yard run, kick blocked – 23-21