Senior Analyst, TheOldCoach.com
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WACO-- The stigma of being just another inner city team that can't get it done is one that has dogged the Dallas Skyline Raiders (14-0) for the past five seasons. Disappointing playoff losses have haunted Coach Reginald Samples and company time and time again, but on Saturday afternoon at Waco ISD Stadium Skyline got maybe their most satisfying playoff win knocking off a very good squad from The Woodlands (12-2) 35-31.
The Raiders took their first lead of the game with just 2:59 remaining on a one yard QB sneak on fourth and goal from junior Devante Kincade, but the Raiders defense would have to contain one last rally by the Highlanders as on fourth and eight junior WR turned DB Ra'Shaad Samples broke up a pass from TWHS QB Lance Miles to seal Skyline's first ever trip to the State Semi-Finals.
The game didn't start out too well for Skyline as the Raiders fell behind 7-0 after a 66 yard interception return by DB Kolbi Brown. Skyline had put together a solid opening drive but on second and long Samples slipped on an out route and Kincade's throw was picked. Skyline would answer on their next drive scoring on a three yard run by Ellis Onic to tie the game at seven.
The Highlanders would respond with ten straight points to take a 17-7 lead, the first score came on the ensuing possession as speedy Blake Webb would score on a four yard run to make it 14-7 Highlanders. After a Skyline three and out, TWHS would move to the Skyline six, but this time the drive stalled and The Woodlands would settle for a 24 yard field goal by Marshall Bainton and a ten point edge.
Skyline would cut the lead to three as UNLV verbal David Greene started to churn out yards on the ground, the Raiders drive would be capped by Kincade's first touchdown of the night from eight yards out to make it 17-14. The game appeared to swing back in The Woodlands favor as after a punt that pinned Skyline on their own one, the Raiders made a questionable decision to throw from their own one. The Woodlands did their homework and had the play read perfectly and were able to intercept the pass. TWHS took full advantage of the short field, getting a huge score right before the half on an eleven yard touchdown pass from Miles to Houston Brown on third and goal to make it 24-14 at the half.
After forcing a three and out for TWHS to start the second half, Texas verbal Thomas Johnson made his first big play of the second half returning the punt 27 yards deep into TWHS territory. That would set up Johnson's ten yard touchdown reception from Kincade to cut the lead to 24-21. The Woodlands would have an answer for the Raiders score as the Highlanders extended the lead to 31-21 on a three yard run by Randy Cooper. After Skyline went three and out, the Highlanders again moved into Skyline territory, but the Raiders defense started to make some adjustments and held the Highlanders on downs to set up their fourth quarter rally.
Onic would get the Raiders rally started early in the fourth quarter with a sick 35 yard touchdown run, where he made a TWHS LB look silly with a ridiculous open field cut and burst up the middle of the field to cut the lead to 31-28. After forcing a TWHS punt, the Raiders would march 80 yards in 12 plays scoring on the fourth and goal sneak from Kincade. TWHS made one last push into Skyline territory as a good kickoff return set up the Highlanders near midfield . On a 4th and 22, TWHS got bailed out with a questionable defensive pass interference call at the Skyline 38. The Raiders defense would answer the bell on the next set of downs including impressive pass break ups on third and fourth down to seal the win.
Skyline now will take on fellow unbeaten Southlake Carroll Saturday afternoon at 4pm at Ford Stadium at SMU for the right to play for the Class 5A Divsision I State Championship.