The Malakoff Tigers went to Wylie Stadium on a rainy and windy Black Friday to face the unbeaten Pottsboro Cardinals in the regional semifinals. The game was delayed for two hours due to lightning and storm activity in the area.
The matchup of potent offenses lived up to the hype with everyone playing their hardest and multiple lead changes throughout, but it was the Cardinals who came up big late to knock off Malakoff, 38-31, and close their season in the third round.
Cy Shope put the Cards on top first, 7-0, with his 55-yard touchdown run. On their opening drive, they converted a fourth down on a fake punt.
After the Tigers punted, Pottsboro converted on another fake punt on 4th down on their ensuing drive. Ezra Fritts caught a big pass to Malakoff's 29, but two plays later, the Cards took a sack and faced 4th and 12. The Tiger defense made the stop and forced a turnover on downs.
With 3:33 left in the first quarter, Keevie Rose picked up two runs, starting with a 46-yard dash to Pottsboro's 19, and the drive was capped off by a three-yard touchdown run by Dedric Davis as the Tigers tied it at 7-7.
As the second quarter started, Malakoff made another stop against the Cardinals, forcing them to punt.
On the next Tiger drive, Andreas Garrett had a big catch into Cardinal territory. Though he bobbled the ball and dropped it, Lance Robertson came to the rescue and recovered it at Pottsboro's 28. They would go for it on 4th and 1 at the 8, convert it on two yards and Garrett ran in the end zone for six yards as Malakoff led 14-7 with 6:11 until halftime.
Pottsboro tied it with Jasek Hooker's 17 yard TD catch with 2:22.
Malakoff nailed a field goal at the end of the first half and led 17-14.
The Tigers lined up to punt out of the break, but the snap was bobbled and the Cards recovered in the end zone for a safety, cutting the lead to 17-16.
Malakoff was called for a defensive pass interference on the next drive and Pottsboro capitalized two plays later with Braden Pryler's two-yard TD run, jumping ahead, 24-17.
Three minutes later, Keevie Rose dashed for a 40-yard touchdown run and it was tied, 24-24, with 3:08 in the third.
With 13 seconds left, Pottsboro faced 4th and 7 at Malakoff's 13. Titus Lyons converted with his 13-yard TD catch and the Cardinals led 31-24.
As the fourth quarter started, it was go time for Malakoff.
The Tigers converted two fourth downs on the ensuing drive and after reaching the Cardinal 3, Rose's second rushing touchdown tied it at 31-31 with 6:47 to play in the game.
The teams exchanged punts and the Cardinals had the ball with three minutes left at Malakoff's 48. Four plays after Plyler dashed for 23 yards, he ran in for a nine-yard score and Pottsboro led 38-31 with 36 seconds left.
The Tigers began their last possession at their own 25, with 36 seconds and two timeouts remaining.
Nathan Jones opened the drive with a 14-yard run to the 39 and Peace picked up seven yards on a carry to reach the 46.
At Pottsboro's 49, there was seven seconds left and one Tiger timeout. Peace threw a pass at the sideline for Garrett and it looked like time ran out on the incompletion. However, there was one second remaining when the ball dropped, so Malakoff had one more play to tie the game.
Peace attempted a hail mary, but it was incomplete and that sealed the game for Pottsboro's 38-31 victory, bringing Malakoff's year to a close. The Cardinals will face Gladewater in the regional final.
Malakoff wraps up their season at 11-2 as district champs, bi-district champs, area champs and regional semifinalists. Congrats to the boys of Malakoff on another great season!