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  • Tyler Harden

Duncanville outplays DeSoto to punch ticket to 6A Division 1 state semifinal

Photo Credit: @matts.photography__

ARLINGTON, TEXAS— The Duncanville Panthers and the DeSoto Eagles were supposed to play each other during the regular season, but the two programs agreed to cancel the game due to COVID-19 cases between the schools. When they were finally able to play each other in the Region 2 final of the 6A Division 1 state playoffs, this matchup meant a lot more. Duncanville has dominated all season, including in the playoffs, as their only loss came at the hands of IMG Academy, who is in a category of their own for high school football. However, it hasn’t been as easy for DeSoto, who is also a top team in the state of Texas. The Eagles had to rally in the second half in their last two games in order to stay alive in the playoffs. The two programs are separated by only 9 miles, and many of the players on both teams grew up with each other. But it was clear that when both teams took the field, they were anything but friends.

After both teams’ first possessions were three and outs, Duncanville was first to find some momentum on offense. Quarterback, Grayson James, completed a pass to Roderick Daniels, and he forced his way for a 45-yard gain to the DeSoto 28-yard line. James kept his rhythm from there, as he found Lontrell Turner wide open in the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown, and gave Duncanville a 7-0 lead (PAT good). DeSoto came right back, as quarterback, Samari Collier, converted on fourth down to the Duncanville 40-yard line, and a personal foul on the Panthers brought DeSoto to the Duncanville 18-yard line. Christopher Henley Jr. capped off the drive for the Eagles with a strong 18-yard touchdown, and tied the game at 7 (PAT good).

Roderick Daniels, who is signed to SMU, showed his speed on Duncanville’s next possession. He caught a screen pass from James, and took it 52 yards all the way to the DeSoto 7-yard line. Malachi Medlock took over from there, crossing the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown, and gave the Panthers back the lead (PAT good). After DeSoto was forced to punt, the first quarter ended with Duncanville in the lead 14-7.

The Panthers went right back to work in the second quarter, as the offense marched down the field to the DeSoto 5-yard line. However, the Eagle defense came up big, as cornerback, Ashton Levells, intercepted a pass from Grayson James in the end zone to give the offense the ball back. But the Eagles couldn’t answer after the turnover, and were forced to punt. However, the Panthers were able to make up for the turnover. On the first play of the drive, James found Chris Hicks Jr. on a post route for a 29-yard touchdown, and extended Duncanville’s lead to 21-7 (PAT good).

After both defenses kept control, DeSoto’s was first to cave. Roderick Daniels caught a screen pass from James, used his speed once again, and ran 44 yards into the end zone for a touchdown (PAT good). DeSoto wouldn’t go away. On Duncanville’s next possession, Ashton Levells came up with his second interception of the night, and gave the Eagles the ball with good field position at the Duncanville 49-yard line. However, the Panthers were able to stop DeSoto, force a turnover on downs, and went into halftime with a big 28-7 lead.

Duncanville continued to keep their foot on the gas into the second half. After Daniels broke a tackle and ran for a big gain to the DeSoto 5-yard line, Malachi Medlock finished the drive, pushing his way into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown (PAT good). DeSoto had an answer, as backup quarterback, Matthew Allen, led the Eagles all the way to the Duncanville 2-yard line. The Eagles’ run game capped off the drive, as running back, Robert Richardson, ran up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown, making the score 35-14 (PAT good).

As Grayson James led the Panthers down the field, DeSoto kept their momentum, recovering a fumble off off a bad snap, which gave the offense the ball at their own 16-yard line. But they couldn’t keep going, as they were forced to punt, and the third quarter ended with Duncanville in the lead 35-14.

After Duncanville was then forced to punt to start the fourth quarter, punt returner and wide receiver, Adonis Scott, provided a spark for the Eagles, returning the punt 58 yards to the end zone for a touchdown (PAT good). Both teams were forced to punt from there. Duncanville took over at the DeSoto 35-yard after Roderick Daniels fumbled the punt return, and still managed to return it into Eagle territory. The action packed plays carried on, as Lontrell Tunrer caught a screen pass from James, hurdled a defender, fumbled in the end zone, and Chris Hicks Jr. was there to recover it for a touchdown to give Duncanville a 42-21 lead (PAT good).

DeSoto forced forced punt on their next possession, and the Duncanville run game started to execute. Malachi Medlock found room to run for a big gain all the way to the DeSoto 15-yard line, and Keyon Pugh finished the drive off with a 15-yard run down the sideline for a touchdown (PAT good). DeSoto had one last shot to score and bring themselves back in the game. However, Duncanville didn’t allow that. Linebacker, Jordan Crook, intercepted a deflected pass from Matthew Allen, and returned it for a touchdown to extend the Panthers’ lead to 56-21 (PAT good). Just because winning the game was out of reach for DeSoto didn’t mean they’d give up. Matthew Allen was able to find Adonis Scott for a 42-yard touchdown to make the score 56-28. Duncanville was able to run out the clock from there, take a knee in victory formation, and punch their ticket to the 6A Division 1 state semifinals.

Duncanville continues their dominance, and keeps their state championship hopes alive. The Panthers improve to 10-1, and will take on Southlake Carroll, who is led by the number one overall player in the Class of 2022 and Ohio State quarterback commit, Quinn Ewers, on Saturday, January 9th at 8 PM ET. DeSoto ends their season at 10-2, and will remain one of the top teams in the state of Texas.

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