UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas –- Once again, Carroll (Southlake, Texas)
fell behind early. And once again, the Dragons showed why they have stayed perfect all season.
"We know how important the second half is," Carroll linebacker Jeff Miller
said after Carroll scored the game's final three touchdowns Saturday in a 31-14 victory over Arlington Martin. "You've got to finish every game to win."
Carroll improved to 14-0 and will take on another Dallas-area power, Skyline (14-0), in the Class 5A Division I semifinals. Carroll, which is in the semifinals for the first time since it won its last state title in 2006, and Skyline, which is in the semifinals for the first time since 1972, will play at 4 p.m. Saturday at SMU's Ford Stadium.
Carroll's win over Martin was also played at Ford Stadium, but the conditions will undoubtedly be different next week. Carroll beat Martin (12-2) in a steady rain that was sometimes a downpour. The hero who emerged for the Dragons was do-it-all senior
Holmes, who has committed to Baylor, caught five passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns. He also intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble.
"It's the best feeling we've had in a while," Holmes said. "It's just a great feeling to protect the tradition."
Carroll has serious tradition to protect. The Dragons haven't won a state title since 2006, but their playoff record since 2002 is 41-5. Carroll advanced to five straight 5A title games from 2002 to '06 and won four championships during that span.
Carroll punted three times in the first half, but it took advantage of great field position to take a 17-14 halftime lead.
After Martin's opening possession ended with an eight-yard touchdown run by Kyle Hicks, Ben Sego
returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards to set up a 33-yard field goal. Carroll scored its first touchdown on quarterback Kenny Hill
's 42-yard run, which came one play after an interception by Holmes. Carroll's third scoring drive of the half started at the Martin 37-yard line after the Dragons recovered a fumble.
Carroll finally grabbed control of the game when it drove 74 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter. Hill hit Holmes on a crossing route for a 16-yard touchdown to give the Dragons a 24-14 lead with 34 seconds left in the third.
Martin's last real chance came on its next drive, when the Warriors got to the Carroll 25 with 10 minutes left. But Carroll's defense then forced another turnover, a fumble by running back Cameron Williams, and Holmes jumped on it to end the threat.
"If you're going to play this time of year, you have to play with an attitude," Carroll coach Hal Wasson said. "And this football team has chosen all year to play with an attitude."