ARLINGTON, Texas — Nobody said it was going to be easy.
State title favorite and Super 25 No. 3 Allen (Texas) needed a surge late in the fourth quarter to survive an upset scare from South Grand Prairie and notch a 28-14 victory in the area round of the 6A DI state playoffs Friday at AT&T Stadium.
“We’re about victories, not scores,” Allen head coach Terry Gambill said. “That’s all that matters. I’m extremely proud of how we fought and how we stayed disciplined throughout. We beat a very, very good football team.”
South Grand Prairie did a tremendous job of controlling the clock through the first three-quarters of the game and played extremely tough defense against an explosive Allen offense.
But the wall finally came tumbling down.
After gaining a couple of first downs with his legs, quarterback Grant Tisdale connected with wide receiver Theo Wease in the corner of the end zone to give Allen a 21-14 lead with 7:31 to go.
“When I looked over there, it looked like man coverage,” Tisdale said. “I feel like I have the best wide receiver in the country out there, so I threw a jump ball and gave him a chance to come down with it. And that was that.”
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Following a key defensive stop, Tisdale engineered another scoring drive. This one was capped off by a short touchdown run by Brock Sturges, an Arizona State commit, with 4:01 remaining.
Tisdale finished the game with 107 yards through the air and 48 yards on the ground with three total touchdowns. While it wasn’t his biggest game statistically, Tisdale made plays when his team needed him the most.
“The team needed the offense to score late in the game, and I led those guys,” Tisdale added. “They helped me out along the way. I couldn’t do it without them. It was a great team win.”
Early in the fourth quarter, South Grand Prairie very much had the look of a team ready to shock the state with an upset as quarterback Nakia Brown tied the game, 14-14, with a 4-yard touchdown run.
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Allen fumbled on the ensuing possession, but Wease was there to jump on the ball and save the day.
After that, the Eagles really turned on the jets and showed why they are one of the top teams in Texas.
“We knew what we needed to do late, and we went out and executed,” Gambill said. “That says a lot about our offense. That says a lot about our defense. I think sometimes you learn more from a game like this than a big blowout.”
Allen advances to the regional semifinals, where it will take on Arlington Martin on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at Dragon Stadium in Southlake.