In the end, Buf­fa­los find way to ad­vance

Houston Chronicle - - HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL | ETC. - By Ja­son McDaniel

Fort Bend Mar­shall’s first play epit­o­mized the day. Huntsville’s de­fense is sturdy, but Mar­shall’s skill guys are stu­pen­dous.

Huntsville forced a fum­ble on the play, but quar­ter­back Ma­lik Hornsby scooped it and scram­bled 10 yards for a first down, and the Buf­fa­los went on to score on their first three se­ries en route to a hard­fought 47-43 win late Thurs­day night at Cy-Fair FCU Sta­dium in the Class 5A Divi­sion II Re­gion III fi­nal.

“I’m so proud of this team, so proud of them,” Mar­shall coach James Wil­liams said. “I’m so proud of this coach­ing staff. We fought all the way to the last sec­ond on the clock.”

The re­gional cham­pi­onship is the first in four tries for the un­de­feated Buffs (14-0).

“Fourth time in seven years, and we fi­nally got through,” Wil­liams said. “It feels great. These guys de­serve it. They’ve worked so hard.”

Huntsville ended its sea­son 12-2.

The Hor­nets were in the fourth round for the first time since 1989.

Mar­shall will face Cor­pus Christi Calallen next week in the state semi­fi­nals.

The Buf­fa­los were dan­ger­ously close to an­other dis­ap­point­ing exit in the fourth round.

Huntsville, which climbed out of a 20-7 half­time hole last week, took its first lead Thurs­day on a 64yard touch­down pass from QB Matthew South­ern to Jay­lon Grif­fin with 2:31 left in the game.

Then des­tiny came call­ing.

The Buf­fa­los were down to their last gasp, fac­ing fourth-and-12 with 33 sec­onds left and a 43-40 deficit when a play of des­per­ate beauty un­folded – Hornsby took a snap, handed to Korey King, and he barely de­liv­ered a re­verse to Devon Achane, around Texas pledge T’Von­dre Sweat in the back­field.

Then Achane, with the de­fense bear­ing down, stopped and threw down­field into a crowd, and Dalevon Camp­bell some­how came down with the ball, then broke two tack­les for a 47-yard game-win­ning touch­down.

“Ev­ery­thing went blurry, but I had to make the catch,” Camp­bell said. “I had to do what­ever it takes. Get­ting open and look for the ball was the main thing on my mind. When I came down with the ball, all I saw was touch­down.”

Antonio Brooks’ in­ter­cep­tion on Huntsville’s fi­nal se­ries sealed the vic­tory.

Achane was unstoppable early.

He pro­vided the first three touch­downs, and a 20-0 first-quar­ter lead, on runs of 43 and 1 yards, and an 86-yard TD re­cep­tion in which he took a short pass from Hornsby on the left side­line, skipped around the de­fen­sive back, then sprinted down the side­line to com­plete a bril­liant first quar­ter.

He had three car­ries for 47 yards and two TDs, and two catches for 96 yards and one TD be­fore the sec­ond.

The Buffs were off and run­ning – but one bad play tripped them up.

Af­ter Huntsville’s de­fense forced a rare punt by Mar­shall on a se­ries that seemed doomed from the start, the snap sailed over the punter’s head, and all he could do was bat it out of the end zone for a safety.

The Hor­nets rode the mo­men­tum to touch­downs on their next two pos­ses­sions.

South­ern’s 6-yard run three plays af­ter the safety cut the deficit to 20-9, and Miles Ta­tum an­swered a Hornsby touch­down with a 4-yard scor­ing grab to pull within 27-16 at half­time.

And the Hor­nets kept com­ing in the third quar­ter.

While the Huntsville de­fense, led by Sweat, was sti­fling the speedy Buffs, its of­fense put up 10 more points – 17 unan­swered over­all – and pulled within 27-26 on a 27-yard field goal.

Then the Buf­fa­los fi­nally came back to life.

Achane’s 48-yard touch­down run ex­tended the lead to 33-26, and a de­ter­mined 17-yard run by Hornsby made it 40-26 head­ing to the fourth.

Achane had a pass­ing TD, three catches for 95 yards and a TD, and 15 car­ries for 112 yards and three TDs. Hornsby threw for 184 yards and one score and rushed for two, and the Buf­fa­los had 437 to­tal yards.

“(Achane’s) just a spe­cial kid,” Wil­liams said. “He’s de­ter­mined, he’s blessed, he’s very gifted, and he does it all for the team.”

Huntsville fin­ished with 347 yards.

South­ern threw for 244 yards and three scores, and Grif­fin had five re­cep­tions for 113 yards.

“This one takes the cake,” Wil­liams said. “But I give credit to Huntsville – great team, great coach­ing staff – it was amaz­ing.”

Michael Wyke / Con­trib­u­tor

Fort Bend Mar­shall's Dalevon Camp­bell, right, is swarmed by team­mates af­ter scor­ing the Buf­fa­los’ game-win­ning touch­down.

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