WYLIE — Malakoff’s dreams of returning to the Class 3A Division I title game were derailed by a familiar foe on Friday evening at Wylie ISD Stadium.
Pottsboro was ousted by Malakoff in the bi-district round of the 2018 playoffs, 63-35. On Friday, the Cardinals returned the favor.
Braden Plyler’s 9-yard touchdown run with 36 seconds on the clock lifted the undefeated Cardinals to a 38-31 win over the 2018 state finalist Tigers in the Class 3A Division I Region II semifinals.
With teammate and star running back Cy Shope going to the sideline with an injury in the first half, Plyler knew he had to put the Cardinals on his back. The junior quarterback did just that.
Plyler rushed for 90 yards — 79 in the second half — on 24 carries with two touchdowns, both of which game in the second half. He also threw for 169 yards and two scores. Plyler’s first touchdown pass tied the game. The last three touchdowns Plyler accounted for all gave Pottsboro the lead, including his last run in the final minute.
After Plyler’s go-ahead touchdown, a kickoff to the end zone gave Malakoff the ball with 36 seconds on the clock and 75 yards to go.
The Tigers got to the Pottsboro 49 with 11 seconds left.
Malakoff threw an incomplete pass on first down. The Tigers threw another pass that fell incomplete, and the time ran off the clock, leading Pottsboro to think the game was over.
After the officials gathered, they determined that there was still one second to play.
After each team called a timeout, Malakoff quarterback Darion Peace sent one deep toward the end zone, but no Tiger receivers were in the area.
Pottsboro (13-0) advances to take on Gladewater in the state quarterfinals.
The Cardinals struck first. On the opening possession of the game, they faked a punt on fourth down in their own territory, and Shope picked of the first down. Two plays later, Shope went 55 yards to the end zone to give Pottsboro a 7-0 lead.
Pottsboro was stopped on fourth down on its next possession, and Malakoff capitalized. Keevy Rose had a 43-yard run to set up a 3-yard run by De’Dric Davis to tie the game with 20 seconds left in the first quarter.
Shope was injured early in the second quarter and finished the game with 88 yards on nine crries.
Midway through the second quarter, Peace found Andreas Garrett for a 47-yard gain. After the catch, Garrett fumbled, and it appeared like Pottsboro’s Connor Pilkilton was going to secure the football with nobody else around. However, Malakoff managed to maintain possession, and Garrett ended the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers a 14-7 lead.
Plyler found Jasek Hooker for a 17-yard touchdown strike to tie the score at 14 with 2:22 on the clock.
As time expired in the first half, Hector Romero made a 29-yard field goal to put Malakoff in front 17-14 at halftime.
The Tigers got the ball first in the second half and were forced to punt. The ball was snapped into the end zone, and Romero recovered it, but was tackled for a safety to cut the score to 17-16.
Pottsboro then went ahead with a 2-yard run by Plyler, and Plyler threw a 2-point pass to Landon Dunaway to give Pottsboro a 24-17 lead.
Malakoff answered with a 40-yard touchdown run by Rose to tie the score at 24 with 3:08 left in the third quarter.
Plyler threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Titus Lyons with 13 seconds left in the frame to put the Cardinals back in front.
Rose tied the score at 31 with a 3-yard touchdown run with 6:47 left in the game.
Rose finished with 147 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Davis ran for 85 yards on 16 carries. Peace threw for 119 yards.
It was the first time since a 39-12 win over Muenster in Week 3 that Pottsboro didn’t score at least 40 points.
Malakoff was held to less than 40 points for the first time since a 19-9 win over Spring Hill on Sept. 27.
The game started about two hours late due to a weather delay.