UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – Carroll's (Southlake, Texas)
long tradition of football has included seven state titles and some very wild finishes. But nothing compares to the final scenes of the Dragons' 28-24 victory against Skyline (Dallas, Texas)
on Saturday in a Class 5A Division I semifinal.
Carroll (15-0), which will face Fort Bend Hightower (Missouri City, Texas)
on Dec. 17 for the state championship, trailed by 10 points with less than two minutes remaining. Then, in the span of 21 seconds, Carroll scored a touchdown, recovered an onside kick and scored the winning touchdown on a 35-yard run by star quarterback Kenny Hill
with 46 seconds remaining.
But that leaves out the most memorable part of Carroll's win against Skyline (14-1), which is No. 5 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Football Rankings presented by the Army National Guard
and was trying to reach its first state title game in school history.MaxPreps Texas 5A Division I state brackets
As Hill broke free on the right side and then spun away from a defender, a grey fox began running down the field. Right down the middle of the field, toward Hill, who glided to the right sideline and then dived into the end zone.
"I saw it run by," said Hill, who ran for three touchdowns in the game. "That was just weird."
It was a bizarre end to a fantastic game that drew 20,000 to SMU's Gerald J. Ford Stadium. As the Carroll players celebrated in the north end zone, the fox continued running toward the south end zone, and then up the berm that surrounds the field. Nobody knew where the fox came from, although some said they saw it earlier in the game.
Skyline led 24-14 with 2:26 left after a 34-yard field goal by Juan Ramos
. Carroll then drove 80 yards for a touchdown in a little more than a minute to cut the lead to 24-21, and the Dragons set up for an onside kick.
The kick bounced high in the air, and right as it reached 10 yards - or very close – Carroll's Ray Crockett
leaped high in the air and grabbed it.
"It was coming right at me, so I knew I was going to get it," Crockett said. "I didn't care if I got hit. I just wanted to win this game so bad."
Carroll got the ball at midfield with 1:07 left. After an incomplete pass, AJ Ezzard
broke through the middle for a 15-yard gain. Then Hill, who rushed for three touchdowns, took the shotgun snap, ran to his right and avoided the Skyline defenders.
And the fox, of course.
"Kenny's made play after play all year," Carroll coach Hal Wasson said. "What a great play. That'll go down in Dragon history."
The Dragons' season looked like it was history until the final hairpin turn of emotion.
Skyline took a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter when David Greene
scored on a 40-yard run. But Carroll, which fell behind in the first half for the third consecutive week, got a lift from its defense.
On Skyline's next possession, Carroll linebacker Dillon Rake
tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage and linebacker Jeremy McClellan
made the interception at the Skyline 28-yard line. Ezzard ran for 25 yards on the next play to set up a first-and-goal, and two plays later Hill dove into the end zone as Skyline's Patrick Robinson
was hanging onto his ankle.
The 1-yard run tied it at 7-7, but Skyline still had 3:01 left in the half. The Raiders drove to the Carroll 36 and called timeout with 20 seconds remaining, but the Dragons' defense again made a big play. After Skyline running back
picked up 10 yards on a draw play, Carroll defensive back Tanner Jacobson
knocked the ball loose and Rake recovered.
Skyline quarterback Devante Kincade
, who threw for 194 yards and ran for 112, scored on a 37-yard run to give the Raiders a 21-14 lead with 54 seconds left in the third quarter. After Skyline added a field goal with 2:26 left, Carroll's terrific season looked like it would come to an end.
But Carroll came up with its most dramatic comeback of the season.
"This is the greatest comeback I've ever been a part of," said Wasson, who has been a coach for more than two decades. "This is No. 1."