Pottsboro gets stopped by Malakoff again

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Pottsboro's Jake Kubik makes a catch in front of Malakoff's Davion Tolliver during a 3A Division I Region II area round game.

SULPHUR SPRINGS — For the second straight season, and the third time in four years, the Pottsboro Cardinals were eliminated from the playoffs by the Malakoff Tigers.

And in the two most recent match-ups in the early part of the bracket, Malakoff has come away with a shutout.

Pottsboro managed just four first downs and had only one drive get past midfield as the Tigers defeated the Cardinals, 42-0, in a Class 3A Division I Region II area round game at Gerald Prim Stadium.

Jake Kubik had four catches for 59 yards and Cooper Townsley gained 35 yards on 11 carries for Pottsboro (6-5), which finished with just 107 yards of offense — including 45 yards on 26 carries. Last year Malakoff beat Pottsboro, 52-0, in the area round.

“It was an uphill battle,” PHS head coach Matt Poe said. “We had a hard time getting anything going. We had a couple receivers open early and we just missed getting them the football. It might have changed the game a little bit.”

It was a roller-coaster season for the Cardinals, who started with two losses, then won five straight before ending with three losses in the final four games — the victory being last week’s 56-55 overtime win against Tatum in the bi-district round.

“I’m proud of the kids and how they grew throughout the season,” Poe said.

Duce Hart had 19 carries for 140 yards and three touchdowns while Judson Driskell was 10-of-17 passing for 130 yards and two touchdowns with an interception for Malakoff (9-3), which will play either Mineola or West in the region semifinals next week.

The Tigers had a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to close out the scoring.

Malakoff started the second half with the ball and the first play was a 44-yard pass from Driskell to Kannon Poteete to the 26-yard line and the Tigers were up 35-0 four plays later on Hart’s seven-yard touchdown run.

Dionis Morina knocked away a fourth-down pass the next time Malakoff threatened to score when it reached the Pottsboro 15-yard line.

The Cardinals picked up a first down but then turned it over on downs at their 41. The Tigers capped the ensuing drive with a six-yard TD catch by Zack Studley with just 17 seconds left in the third.

Pottsboro had five possessions in the second half and its only first down was the one previously mentioned. The Cardinals went with Halen Flanagan at quarterback after intermission. Jett Carroll got the start. The duo combined to complete 6-of-22 passes for 62 yards and Carroll had two interceptions.

Malakoff built a 28-0 half-time lead with a smothering defense and three straight touchdown drives in the first quarter while the Cardinals were struggling to get anything going.

It took until Pottsboro’s fourth possession for the Cardinals to pick up a first down, which came on a 36-yard catch by Kubik along the right sideline. That was also the only drive where Pottsboro ran any plays in Malakoff territory and by that time the Tigers were up 21-0.

Malakoff needed just four plays to get on the board when Jason Tennyson raced around the right end for a 22-yard TD less than three minutes into the game.

The Tigers’ second series started just inside Pottsboro territory and Corey Phillips took a receiver screen to the right side 42 yards for the 14-0 advantage at the 7:08 mark of the first quarter.

A roughing/running into the punter penalty was not called the next time Pottsboro had the ball and Hart capped off the ensuing Malakoff possession with a one-yard TD plunge with just over four minutes to go in the frame.

The only touchdown in the second quarter came on Hart’s seven-yard run with 8:40 on the clock. Hart had 14 carries for 102 yards at the break.

Pottsboro kept the deficit there when Cameron Saunders intercepted a deep throw to the Cardinals 17-yard line. The next time the Tigers had the ball, they got into the red zone but were forced to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Juan Gonzalez that Flanagan blocked after breaking through the middle of the line.

But the Cardinals never put together any sustained drives during the opening half. Twice Pottsboro turned the ball over on downs, getting as far as the Malakoff 39-yard line late in the first quarter, and Austin Massingill and Chauncey Hogg came up with interceptions for the Tigers.

Pottsboro had just 73 yards in the first half, including 15 carries for 11 yards.