ARLINGTON, TX — In a battle of unbeaten Texas juggernauts, the Shadow Creek Sharks found redemption after losing to Highland Park in last year's championship.
Special team highlights, penalties, and a whole lot of defense defined the back and forth fight before Denton Ryan's last second hail mary fell slowly to the ground.
Shadow Creek started by forcing a Ryan three and out on the first possession. The Sharks took the ball, and marched 56 yards down the field in four minutes to take the lead. Kyron Drones stretched the ball over the goal line from one yard out for his first TD in an MVP performance.
Ryan punched them in the mouth on the next play, though. Aaron Dixon caught the kickoff in the end zone and ran to the middle of the field. At the 9 yard line, he handed the ball to a standing Martin Rodriguez who turned and gave it to Tra Smith with a full head off steam. Smith bolted to the end zone, and Drew Sanders took the lead with a powerful two-point run. That kickoff return was ESPN's #1 play in the Friday Top Ten.
Ryan would hold onto the one point lead for 13 minutes of game time until Shadow Creek made a special teams play of their own.
Texas Longhorn committ and 4-star wide receiver Billy Bowman Jr. picked Drones off inside the red zone giving the Raiders the ball at their 8. Shadow Creek forced them to punt a couple plays later, and the snap flew over Riley Nuzzo's head and into the endzone.
Nuzzo didn't have time to pick the ball up and decided to kick it off the ground before getting hit. The ball bounced around near the sideline at the 31 with players on both teams watching it come to a halt. Before anyone could down it, Shadow Creek's return man Randy Masters came sprinting in from his position deep, picked the ball up, and sprinted down the sideline untouched for a touchdown. 14-8 Shadow Creek with 5:43 to play before the half.
Denton Ryan's offense had a tough time getting anything going. They finished the game with 250 yards and 197 of them came on three possessions. They had 11 possessions total.
Shadow Creek's speed and athleticism on all three levels of their defense contained Ryan's play makers for most of the game. Billy Bowman finished the game with 42 yards on 6 catches. His fellow Texas committ Ja'Tavion Sanders, a 6'4" WR/DE, had 65 yards on 4 grabs.
Sanders had a huge touchdown to cut the lead to 6 with 1:14 to play. He outjumped a SC defensive back in the back of the end zone for six. Ryan running back Emani Bailey averaged 5.7 a carry but was only given the ball nine times. He finished with 54 yards.
Henigan finished 18-34 for 161 yards. A bulk of his incompletions came on throwaways while being chased in the backfield. The Sharks sacked him four times in the game and hit him a lot more than that.
Offensively, Drones was the key to the whole thing, but he had several weapons to deal it to. Greg Hancock had 3 catches for 59 yards, Seth Jones had 3 for 44, CJ Guidry had 2 for 46, and Jared Jackson had 1 for 20.
Running back Kelvon Brown added to the mix with 14 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown. He had a long of 26.
As for Drones, he had two scores on the ground in addition to 135 yards. He broke a 55 yarder off a read option that set up Brown's TD with 2:50 to go in the game.
Passing, he was 10-18 for 185 yards. He was picked off twice by Bowman.
Heading into the 4th quarter, Shadow Creek had a 21-15 lead until Brown's late touchdown. Ryan came right back with a 1:49 long drive that ended with Sanders' catch.
With a 28-22 lead and the ball at their 47 after recovering the onside kick, all Shadow Creek had to do was get a first down.
Ryan had all three timeouts left and knew SC would run the ball to make them use them. They pinned their ears back, allowed just 4 yards, and forced a punt with 47 seconds left to play.
The Raiders started their drive to win the game at their 18 without any timeouts. Two Bowman catches moved them to the 33 where Henigan scrambled out of bounds at the 38. 14 seconds left.
Coming out of a Shadow Creek timeout, the Sharks pressured Henigan and made him throw it away while being tackled.
Now with 9 seconds left, they ran a hook and ladder. After two laterals, Sanders ran out of bounds on the left sideline at the SC 40 with 2 seconds left. A Shark defender hit him late after the whistle and added 15 more.
Ryan had the chance to throw one more time from the Shadow Creek 25. Henigan rolled to his right and lauched it back to the left while being pressured. 6'5" Drew Sanders was the target. The ball floated towards the goal line, and Sanders got both hands on it over the undersized SC defensive backs, but the ball fell out of his hands.
Final Score: Shadow Creek 28, Denton Ryan 22.
Drones was named the Offensive Player of the Game, and senior linebacker Jeremiah Harris (pictured above in the article cover) was named the Defensive Player of the Game.
Harris finished the night with 5.5 tackles (4 solo), 2 sacks, and 1 tackle for loss. He has signed a committment letter to play at Kansas State next season.
You can read our live play by play from the game here. I highly recommend it for added context and craziness.