Malakoff exacts revenge on Pottsboro

By Rick Bailey
For the Herald Democrat
Pottsboro's Braden Plyler looks to avoid a Malakoff defender during a Class 3A Division I Region II contest at A&M-Commerce.

COMMERCE — For nearly two months the Malakoff Tigers have rarely been score upon. And when they notched their sixth shutout in seven games by blanking the Pottsboro Cardinals, it's was their way of turning things up on what has become a playoff rivalry.

For the third straight season Pottsboro and Malakoff clashed in the playoffs and this time the last two region champions met up in the second round.

This time Malakoff used a strong rushing attack and continued its stellar defensive effort to eliminate Pottsboro, 52-0, in a Class 3A Division II Region II area match-up at A&M-Commerce.

Malakoff (9-2) will face two-time defending champion Grandview in the regional semifinals and was able to get there by avenging their 38-31 loss to Pottsboro (9-3) in last year's region semis. It also kept the Cardinals, who hadn't suffered a loss like this since a 55-0 defeat against Gainesville in 2005, from getting their chance at revenge against Grandview, which beat Pottsboro by seven points in last year's title game.

Either way, a team ranked in the top 10 in the state was not going to be advancing. Unfortunately for Pottsboro, it fell behind early and could never get anything going.

Meanwhile, Malakoff's tandem of Duce Hart and Takeenan Langley combined to help the Tigers run for 399 yards on 45 attempts. Hart had five touchdowns in the first half on 12 carries and 92 yards. Langley picked up the slack in the second half, scoring two touchdowns on eight carries for 120 yards after the break.

Senior quarterback Darion Peace finished with 170 yards passing and 98 yards rushing as Malakoff put together 569 yards on 61 plays.

Braden Plyler led the Cardinals with 66 yards rushing and 101 passing with two interceptions against a defense that has allowed two touchdowns in its last eight games. Jake Kubik totaled two catches for 33 yards, Titus Lyons made a pair of catches for 28 yards and Jett Carroll added 29 yards on seven carries and caught four passes for 16 yards.

The Cardinals finished with just 187 yards.

Malakoff’s defense held Pottsboro on the first three possessions that ended in a punt or turnover on downs. Each of those drives turned into Hart touchdowns and the Tigers held a 19-0 lead going into the second quarter.

His first two were short runs of five and three yards before a 30-yard TD scamper in the final minute of the first.

Pottsboro put together its first real drive at the beginning of the second quarter. However, that possession ended in an interception at the goal line by Riggin Smith, who returned it 36 yards. Four plays later Hart got his fourth score on a nine-yard run in the middle of the second quarter.

Malakoff got the ball back with 3:02 remaining in the half after stopping the Cardinals on downs. Both Peace and Hart combined for most of the offense on the seven-play, 62-yard drive which ended in another Hart touchdown run, this one from a yard out, with less than a minute on the clock for a 38-0 half-time margin.

Pottsboro got an early break in the third quarter when Jade Roberts used a strip sack on Peace to get the ball for the Cardinals at the Malakoff 35-yard line. But two plays later Karter Fuller picked off a Plyler pass to end that threat.

The teams exchanged possessions until the end of the third quarter when Nathan Jones caught a 22-yard scoring strike from Peace with 4:34 left in the stanza. Then with just 54 seconds remaining in the third, Langley scored on an 18-yard burst up the middle.

Each team had the ball twice in the fourth quarter and Malakoff capitalized on its last scoring effort of the night when Langley capped a five-play, 64-yard drive with 8:41 remaining.

Area Round

Class 3A Division I Region II

Malakoff                52

Pottsboro                0