Dragons Saddle Colts 28-24, Move on to Quarterfinals
Dec 04, 2017 12:24PM ● Published by Mike
Gallery: 2017 UIL Regionals 28-24 Southlake vs Arlington [2 Images] Click any image to expand.
The Dragons advanced to the fourth round of the UIL playoffs and the 6A Region I championship game after topping Arlington Saturday at The Ford Center (aka The Star) in Frisco, 28-24.
Carroll scored the game-winning points in the fourth quarter when head coach Hal Wasson decided to roll the dice and go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line rather than kick a potential game-tying field goal.
Quarterback Will Bowers made the decision pay for Wasson when he rolled right and threw back across his body to Carson White for a touchdown and 28-24 lead.
“I just had a feeling,” Wasson said. “I can’t really explain it, you just have to go with your instincts and you either trust your players to go out and execute a play or you don’t. I trusted them and they did it.”
The Dragons’ defense preserved the victory from there as they continued their dominant second-half performances in the postseason.In three playoff games, Carroll has surrendered just three scores and two touchdowns in the second half.
Carroll’s defense also got in on the scoring act when RJ Mickens picked off Arlington quarterback D’Montae Davis and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead late in the second quarter.
Joseph DeVincenzo also had an interception for the Carroll defense, while Matt Werner had a team-high 10 tackles.
“That was huge and the difference in the game I thought,” Wasson said. “Our defense forced two big turnovers and we didn’t make those same mistakes.”
Mickens’ scoring interception help offset a second-quarter where the Colts displayed their big-play ability. Running back Kenland McCray got Arlington on the board early in the period with a 75-yard touchdown and following his interception to Mickens, Davis made amends with a 59-yard scoring run to knot the game at 14 apiece heading to the break.
TJ McDaniel provided the first-half scoring offensively for the Dragons with a 3-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The junior star running back finished with 84 yards after a collarbone injury knocked him out in the second quarter. So it was Bowers who paced Carroll on the ground with 101 yards on 18 attempts— a performance that nabbed him Dragon Pride Player of the Week honors.
Tavian Gould, meanwhile, had 16 yards on seven carries, including a 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The score brought the Dragons even at 21-21 after Arlington had taken the lead on Davis’ second touchdown run of the game.
Arlington regained the lead momentarily on a field goal late in the third quarter, but Carroll answered back and went in front thanks in part to Wasson’s gamble. Cade Bell had receptions of 26 and 21 yards to move the Dragons to the red zone and finished with team-highs of five catches and 73 receiving yards.
“I thought we needed a play and needed that momentum,” Wasson said. “The protection was good, Will threw a perfect ball and Carson made a play that will go down as one of the great ones in Dragon history. They had it covered pretty well, but there isn’t anything you can do when the quarterback throws a perfect ball and the receiver lays out and gets it.”
With the win, Carroll moves three victories away from a state title and will take on Waco Midway in the 6A Region I final at 6 p.m.Saturday at Baylor’s McLane Stadium in Waco.
“It’s an awesome feeling and I’m very proud of this team,” Wasson said. “At this time you’re either playing your best or you aren’t and these guys are giving it everything they have and are playing at such a high level and that’s what protecting the tradition is all about. This year has been filled with adversity and what I admire the most is they haven’t let it penetrate them. It’s been great to watch them mature.”
Carroll will have its hands full, however, as Midway is unbeaten on the year and is coming off a 48-17 win over Mansfield in the regional semifinals. The Panthers, who are ranked #3 in the state last made the fourth round in 2012.
“I can tell you already they’re really good,” Wasson said. “They’re a very polished team and are going to be a tough out.”