The Varsity Message Board

Survival Mode: Ranked high school football teams escape with playoff wins

– Dallas Jackson, NationalHSFootball.com

After trailing much of the contest, Cedar Hill (Texas) High walked off of the field Saturday a winner, edging Temple (Texas) High in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs, 39-35.

The No. 32 team in the NationalHSFootball.com HSFB100 poll was one of several programs that had to survive a scare this weekend to keep its season alive and, to a lesser importance, its national ranking.

Coach Joey McGuire looks on at Cedar Hill.

Coach Joey McGuire looks on at Cedar Hill.

Cedar Hill was joined by No. 17 Jenks (Okla.) High, No. 44 Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, No. 53 Lovejoy (Ga.) High, and No. 55 Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High that all did just enough to escape and move one weekend closer to playing football post-Thanksgiving.

Cedar Hill trailed at halftime by three scores, 28-7, but scored on five of its six second half possessions to earn the victory.

Junior receiver Damarkus Lodge hauled in a 7-yard score on the opening drive of the second half as well as a 70-yard score as time wound down in the third quarter. He accounted for 246 receiving yards to go with his two touchdowns.

Aca’cedric Ware gained 120 yards on the ground and four scores — three in the second half — in the victory.

The offense put the Longhorns in a bad position early by failing to convert on fourth downs on its first two possessions as well as having a fumble, a punt, and an interception before exploding after halftime.

It was the special teams — or lack of them — for Temple that cost it the game.

The team was stopped on a fourth down and one at the Cedar Hill 30 in the third quarter, passing on an opportunity to kick a long field goal; it was unable to complete a pass on fourth down and three from the Cedar Hill 13 on its first drive of the fourth quarter which could have extended its lead to 13 points. The most costly special teams showing may have been a 20-yard punt that happened in the middle of the fourth quarter which gave Cedar Hill the ball at the Temple 39.

Three plays later Cedar Hill capitalized on the poor kick and took the lead for good.

The Longhorns intercepted a pass on its goal line with Temple driving in the waning moments to cement the victory.

The team advances to play Carrollton (Texas) Hebron in the area round next week.

QUICK HITTERS

It was slugfest in Oklahoma as No. 17 Jenks was taken to the wire by Owasso (Okla.) High for the second time this season.

Jenks hung on for a 14-10 victory as the two teams played by the final margin from the midpoint of the third quarter until the final whistle.

Neither team was able to get much going offensively after each scored on successive possessions in the first quarter — Jenks on a 5-yard run by Trent Tabor and Owasso on a 63-yard pass from Gabe Neph to Bryce Colt.

The Trojans went back ahead in the third quarter on a 32-yard pass from Cooper Nunley to Kalen McDavid. Owasso closed the gap after falling on a muffed punt deep in Jenks territory gaining only three yards and settling for a field goal to set the final margin.

Jenks will play Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe next week in the Class 6A quarterfinals.
black-line

JuJu Smith escapes a tackle Friday night. Tracey Roman/Visit Press-Telegram.

JuJu Smith escapes a tackle Friday night. Tracey Roman/Visit Press-Telegram.

Long Beach Poly was trailing with just over two minutes to play in its contest with Orange (Calif.) Lutheran before a botched punt gave Poly the ball deep in Lutheran territory and the chance to steal a victory.

The game was an expected defensive battle all night. The teams traded turnovers and points were at a premium, and it appeared to most that OLU was going to advance.

At halftime, it was a 6-0 contest in favor of Poly despite its two turnovers as it limited OLU to one first down and 33 yards of offense.

Lutheran responded with two touchdowns in its first two possessions of the second half before Poly scored on a JuJu Smith reception to cut the lead.

Poly special teams were nearly the difference in the game before it turned the tide on Lutheran late as the Jackrabbits were unable to convert on its two extra points and trailed, 13-12.

Lutheran added a field goal to extend its lead to 16-12 and with just over two minutes to play was set to punt the ball back to Smith and Poly when the Lancer punter was unable to handle the snap and set up the winning score for Poly.

Quarterback Josh Love — who played his freshman year at OLU — hit Christian Pabico for the winning score.
black-line
Lovejoy continued to rely on Prestion Williams in its last second, 27-23 victory over Marietta (Ga.) High.

The receiver hauled in seven passes for 275 yards and four touchdowns — one of those was set up by an interception he made on defense — including a 47-yard score on the final pass play of the game turning a 23-21 defeat into a dogpile.

Lovejoy coach Al Hughes told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he knows to feed his talented prospect.

“He’s the best player in the state,” Hughes said. “We need to find ways to get him the ball as much as we can.”

Williams had touchdown receptions of 32, 66, 96, and 47 yards. He also set up the final score with a 40-yard kickoff return.

The victory sets up a second round game with Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes.
black-line
Deerfield Beach was unable to secure its victory in regulation, needing overtime to defeat Pembroke Pines (Fla.) Flanagan, 14-7.

The No. 55-ranked team in the HSFB100 nearly did not make it to the extra period as a Flanagan touchdown pass was called back for offensive pass interference at the end of regulation.

The 20-yard strike from Ryan Stanley to Keavon Mitchell would have ended the contest but was a moot point as the call was more formality than controversy.

In overtime, Deerfield Beach scored on its first possession as quarterback Danarious Graham scampered for a touchdown on a third-and-14 play to set up the victory.

Graham told FloridaHSFootball.com that the feeling was incredible.

“Getting to come here and play with my brothers is like a dream come true,” Graham said. “Coming in we knew it was going to be a dogfight and my brother and I came through for the win.”

The victory sets up a showdown with No. 59 Miramar (Fla.) High, which also was tested to get through the first week of the Class 8A playoffs.

About Dallas Jackson

Dallas Jackson is the national high school football analyst for NationalHSFootball.com. He has been compiling the HSFB100 rankings since the 2007 season. His work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, American Football Monthly, among many others, and he was featured in the Frontline special, Football High.

2 comments

  1. Jenks must drop, 4pts AT HOME vs. a 5-5 Owasso (who held Jenks to 14 pts)

  2. Something about playing Owasso is tough for Jenks… but there will be some movement, per the norm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>