SAN ANTONIO–From the start, La Marque (11-3) came out and made the big plays, while Calallen (13-1) didn’t execute its game plan, missing on big opportunities as the Wildcats went down to defeat in the state semifinals, 42-18.
It’s the sixth time La Marque has beaten Calallen in the state semis and the Cougars will now play Aledo, the defending 4A Champs in Division II, who are undefeated.
The La Marque players set the tone when they came out at the start of the game, taunting the Calallen players in the middle of field and the referees were nowhere to stop the intimidation.
On its first drive, Calallen blew an opportunity for a three and out and La Marque made a long third down play. After that, they capped a six play 59 yard drive with a 13 yard run by QB Emanuel Williams who passed for 244 yards in the game.
Calallen tried to answer, but they had two false starts and a strong defensive of line smothered the Wildcats’ Wing-T offense. They went three and out.
When La Marque got the ball back, RB Tim Wright, a three-year starter who was injured in the season that nearly cost the Cougars from making the playoffs, ran for 74 yards of his 150 yard on the ground.
In the first quarter, Calallen only had one first down, gained 10 yards total offense and looked helpless against the bigger and faster Cougars.
With their backs against the wall, QB Tanner Sparks, who passed for 172 yards, hit WR Nick Ginn for a 49 yard TD and the Cats had some momentum, trailing 14-7.
The Cougars came back within a blink of an eye they drove down the field with ease on a 68 yard drive. Williams hit Brian Allen, who towered over defensive back Givin McClure, to haul in the 37 yard TD.
Calallen drove down the field running the ball. They were in the red zone when Sparks was running a keeper around left side and he accidentally fumbled the ball without anyone touching it. That proved to be one of the turning points in the game.
Again, the Cougars drove right down the field, running and passing the ball. It was capped off by a 19 yard pass play to Allen and La Marque was up 28-7.
Calallen tried to come back and had a 40 yard pass play to WR JJ Dallas that left them at the La Marque 2 yard line, but again the Cougars defense held the Cats to a FG. The score was 28-10 at Half.
It was a very similar game to the Boerne-Champion game a week before in the Alamodome as Calallen was down by 18 points and would need a big second half to win.
Calallen was still confident, but knew what they had to do to get back in the game. The third quarter started. Again, another good drive but no points to show for it. Calallen controlled the ball for most of the 3rd quarter without scoring.
La Marque scored on a 42 yard pass from Williams to Tim Oliver on its second possession of the 2nd Half to take a commanding 35-10 lead.
In the 4th quarter, Calallen started to use some misdirection plays and screens to offset the aggressive defense of La Marque. They scored on a 30 yard Statute of Liberty run play by Buddy Wright, who gained 130 yards, and made a two point conversion to bring the Cats within 17 points.
If there was any doubt of a Cats comeback, RB Wright put that to rest as he took a swing pass play for 72 yards to score a TD and La Marque led 42-18.
Calallen had one more chance to score, but Sparks threw an interception in the end zone to cap off the victory for La Marque.
Calallen players and coaches said they had their chances, but didn’t capitalize. They said too many dropped passes, missed tackles and failure to execute their game plan led to defeat. For Coach Phil Danaher, it’s his sixth straight loss in a row to La Marque in the state semifinals over the last two decades.
La Marque is a stunning 10-0 in state semifinal games and they will move on to play for its sixth 4A championship title. A team who failed to make the playoffs over the last two years in part due to Hurricane Ike and the loss of students hopes to finish the deal with a win over the defending state champs, the Aledo Bobcats.
–Manuel De La Rosa, South Texas Tribune, firstname.lastname@example.org
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