WACO – The Class 3A, Division I, Region 2 semifinal rematch lived up to the billing Friday at Waco ISD Stadium.
In the end, The No. 4-ranked Malakoff Tigers (10-2) defeated the No. 2-ranked and two-time defending state champion Grandview Zebras 24-21 Friday at Waco ISD Stadium.
“Fifth time is the charm,” Malakoff coach Jamie Driskell said. “We were not going to give the ball back to them because you saw how dangerous they are when it is crunch time. The Jentsch kid is special so we were not going to give the ball back to him. We were either going to score a touchdown, kick a field goal or miss with no time left.”
This was the fifth meeting in the last three years as Grandview (11-1) has won the last four straight.
In the past four meetings, Grandview won by scores of 35-21, 28-7, 14-13 and a 31-24 overtime win 91 days ago in this year’s season opener.
The Zebras came in winning 37 of its last 38 games and 14 straight playoff games before Friday’s action.
Up next for the Tigers is the Class 3A regional championship game against the Mt. Vernon Tigers. Mt. Vernon (11-2) defeated Mineola (11-2), 12-7, Friday. The game is at 7 p.m. from Mesquite E.H. Hanby Stadium Friday night. The Tigers will be the visiting team in the regional championship contest.
“They will line up in a ton of different stuff and throw the ball around,” Driskell said. “They have a really good quarterback and we don’t know a ton about them but we will find out.”
Both teams started off hot in the first 24 minutes of action as Malakoff’s Duce Hart had a 53-yard touchdown reception from Darion Peace with 11:15 remaining in the first quarter. Juan Gonzales booted the PAT good for a 7-0 lead.
On the next drive for Grandview, Kason English had a 44 yard touchdown reception from Dane Jentsch with 9:44 in the first. Luke Ferguson booted the PAT good to tie the game at 7.
Grandview then scored a one yard TD run by Jentsch with 1:10 remaining in the first quarter for the 14-7 lead.
“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot a little bit,” Driskell said. “They came out in something different defensively for us so it took a little while for us to adjust. We got the adjustment done at halftime and it worked for a while and then they adjusted back. It was kind of a chess match and our guys stepped up when it was time to step up.”
Malakoff went on a 98-yard drive as Riggin Smith capped the drive with a 32-yard reception from Peace with 6:48 remaining in the third. Gonzales booted the PAT good to tie the game at 14.
In the fourth quarter, Cole Gaddis gave the Tigers a 21-14 lead with a fumble recovery in the end zone with 8:29 remaining in regulation. Gonzales booted the PAT good for the 21-14 lead.
On the next drive, Haydin Thomas picked off Dane Jentsch at the Malakoff 49-yard line as Malakoff looked to drain the clock with 7:39 left in the game.
Jentsch tied the game at 21 with 3:38 remaining in the game on a six-yard TD run. Ferguson booted the PAT.
Gonzales won the game on a 33-yard FG with five seconds remaining for the 24-21 finale.
“This is a huge hump and we are going to enjoy it, but we are back to work Monday,” Driskell said. “We got three playoff games down and we want to play three more, but we have a tough task ahead of us.”
MHS – Duce Hart 53 from Darion Peace (Juan Gonzalez kick) 11:15. Malakoff 7, Grandview 0.
GHS – Kason English 44 from Dane Jentsch (Luke Ferguson kick good) 9:44, Malakoff 7, Grandview 7.
GHS – Dane Jentsch 1 run (Ferguson kick good) 1:10, Grandview 14, Malakoff 7.
MHS – Riggin Smith 32 from Darion Peace (Gonzales kick). 6:48, Malakoff 14, Grandview 14. 98-yard drive
MHS – Cole Gaddis fumble recovery in end zone. (Juan Gonzales kick good). 8:29. Malakoff 21, Grandview 14.
GHS – Dane Jentsch 6 run (Ferguson kick) 3:38 left. Malakoff 21, Grandview 21.
MHS – Gonzales 33-yard field goal. 0:05 left, Malakoff 24, Grandview 21.