By DR. DAVID DAVIS
For the second time this season, Shadow Creek rallied to defeat district foe Richmond Foster to capture the Class 5A Region III Div. I championship 25-21 to advance to the 5A Division I state semifinals against the San Antonio Wagner Thunderbirds (13-1) at NRG Stadium on Saturday, December 15 at 6:00 p.m.
The first time the Sharks faced the Falcons, the Sharks were down 34-7 with only three minutes to go in the third quarter.
No one expected the Sharks to score 28 unanswered points in the final 15 minutes of the game, but that is exactly what happened that enabled Shadow Creek to pull out the miraculous 35-34 district win and remain undefeated in their first season of varsity football.
That comeback victory has characterized the heart and soul of this team and it continued when Shadow Creek found themselves trailing 21-7 against Foster in the regional final.
It appeared that Foster once again found a way to build a lead over the Sharks and many thought they would not be victimized a second time around.
But lightening does strike twice and Shadow Creek was able to overcome the slow start to finally take the lead in the second half and hold on for the historical win for the Sharks.
Shadow Creek head coach Brad Butler said it’s about the program’s seniors, who waited two years for wins like this.
“These seniors, they’ve kind of just been working hard in the background and now they’ve got a chance to put their stamp on it,” Butler said.
Shadow Creek actually got on the scoreboard first on their second possession of the game as they drove 51 yards in seven plays when Marquez Huland took a draw handoff and rambled 29 yards for the score. George Ezechukwu hit the PAT for a 7-0 lead with 4:43 left in the opening quarter.
But Foster then took over the second period beginning with a 78-yard bomb from quarterback Ryan Stubblefield to Cody Jackson at the 9:37 mark of the second quarter.
The Falcons followed that up with two more scores on a 1-yard touchdown run and a 9-yard scoring pass. Foster missed the PAT after the second score for a 13-7 lead at intermission.
Foster got the second half kickoff and got a great 64-yard return from Jaden Smith to the Shadow Creek 29. Four plays later, the Falcons increased the lead to 21-7 on a 9-yard scoring toss from Stubblefield to Sean Kelly with 10:33 left in the third period. The two-point conversion was good.
That would be of the scoring for Foster as the Shadow Creek defense stepped up their effort while Shadow Creek quarterback put the team on his back to score three touchdowns on runs of 16, 5, and 6-yards in the second half to rally the troops to another win 25-21.
The key in the final drive for the Sharks came on a 32-yard pass completion on third-and-six from the Sharks 23. George found a streaking Kealon Jackson down the middle of the field to the Foster 45.
Isaiah Harper entered the game to make his presence known on consecutive runs covering 15 and 13 yards to the Falcons 17.
A pass interference call in the end zone helped the Sharks put the ball at the 2-yard line. After a 4-yard loss, George kept the ball on a jet sweep around right end to the goal line giving Shadow Creek the lead and eventually the game.
The Sharks offense rolled up 367 total yards while Foster managed to get 270 with most of that in the first half.
George was 11-of-19 passing for 160 yards with one interception while picking up 73 yards on 17 carries and three scores.
Huland continued his job as the workhorse on the ground with 26 carries for 121 yards and one score. Harper had three key runs for 23 yards.
Jackson had four grabs for 104 yards.
Shadow Creek looks to continue their Cinderella season when they host San Antonio Wagner Thunderbirds on Saturday, December 15 at 6:00 p.m. in the Class 5A Div. I state semifinals.