KELLER — Untested in District 4-5A play this season, Southlake Carroll was pushed to the limit by Keller Fossil Ridge in a battle for the district title at the Keller ISD Athletic Complex on Thursday night.
It took three second-half interceptions by the Dragons, ranked No. 7 in The Associated Press 5A state poll, including two by Tariq Gordon, and the play of quarterback Ryan Agnew to lead Carroll to a come-from-behind 31-27 victory.
Carroll (8-1, 6-0 in 4-5A) held the Panthers scoreless in and to just 103 yards in that span after giving up 27 points and 343 yards in the first half.
The Dragons, who gained just 173 yards in the first half, finished with 342 yards. Agnew rushed 29 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns and completed 14 of 16 passes for 110 yards and another score.
It was a game that went back and forth as Fossil Ridge (6-3, 4-2) rallied from a 17-6 second-quarter deficit to score 21 unanswered points in a span of 5:39 to take a 27-17 lead into the locker room.
Trailing by 10 at the half, it looked like the Dragons’ streak of 22 consecutive district games could possibly come to an end.
Carroll’s last district loss was 35-17 to Coppell on Oct. 15, 2010. Fossil Ridge, with a victory, would have handed Carroll just their second district loss since the Dragons went to Class 5A in 2002.
Fossil Ridge had chances, but couldn’t take advantage of any Dragons mistakes in the second half.
The Panthers forced a fumble in the end zone on Carroll’s first possession of the second half, but couldn’t convert. Fossil Ridge moved down to the 29, but an interception killed that drive.
Carroll responded, getting an 11-yard pass from Agnew to Chris Hogan after Agnew was able to get away from several defenders.
The Dragons’ defense forced a three-and-out, and after a short punt, Agnew scored on a 2-yard run for the final points of the night.
The Panthers’ best shot to retake the lead came midway through the fourth quarter when they broke through the middle and forced a fumble.
They tried to pick the ball up, but it popped loose deep in Carroll territory and the Dragons got it back.
After a 7-yard gain on third-and-47, the Panthers got a 59-yard punt. Getting one last chance with the ball at their 3 with 39 seconds left, Carroll’s Steven Bergmark picked off the pass to seal the win.
Fossil Ridge dominated the first half, using its speed on short passes to pile up yards. Jacob Gnacinski completed 27 of 39 passes for 289 yards in the opening half, with 11 of them going to Ryan Parker for 151 yards and a score.
Keshawn Mitchell scored on a 1-yard run for Fossil Ridge with 1:42 left in the half to lead 20-17. Three plays later, Anthony Villalobos tipped a Carroll pass that Lee Sudduth picked off and returned to the Dragons’ 36. Cameron Castleberry’s 31-yard touchdown reception made it 27-17 with 25 seconds left.
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