Brock Sturges rushed for 176 yards and three touchdowns to lead Allen past Austin Lake Travis, 35-33, Saturday in the UIL Class 6A Division I state championship game at AT&T Stadium.
Sturges, who was named the game’s offensive MVP, carried the ball 36 times and helped the Eagles (16-0) win their fifth title in 10 years.
That Lake Travis and Allen would have a title battle should come as no surprise. Lake Travis were defending state champs, had already won six titles in a 10-year stretch and was playing in its third consecutive 6A title game. The Eagles won their first title in 2008, then three-peated in 2012-2014.
The teams took turns scoring a defensive touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in each half.
Allen scored 14 seconds into the game and built a 21-0 in just 7:20, but had to hold off a Lake Travis rally that saw the Cavaliers score seven seconds into the second half to take its first and only lead, 24-21.
With 9:57 remaining in the game, Lake Travis moved to within two points, 35-33, on a six-yard pass from Hudson Card to Kyle Wakefield. The Cavaliers went for the tie but the two-point attempt on a trick pass fell incomplete.
Lake Travis threatened again, but Allen’s Taj Bickham made a diving interception at his own six with 6:03 left. Bickham’s game-saving interception earned him defensive MVP honors.
Allen then ran 11 rushing plays, six carries by Sturges, to run out the clock.
The game went Allen’s way from the first play from scrimmage, when Lake Travis lost perhaps its best player and staked the Eagles to a touchdown lead.
Lake Travis senior quarterback Matthew Baldwin went back to pass, but went crashing to the ground and fumbled without being touched. Allen’s Jayden Jernigan picked up the ball and raced 14 yards for a TD.
Baldwin, who signed with Ohio State Wednesday, sustained meniscus damage in the fourth quarter of the Cavaliers’ state semifinal over Katy and didn’t finish that game. He was wearing a knee brace against Allen and entered the game having completed 72 percent of his passes for 3,842 yards and 44 touchdowns.
Card, a sophomore, took Baldwin’s place and struggled at first. The Cavaliers went three-and-out, gaining zero yards, and the Eagles needed just five offensive plays to up their lead to 14-0 just 2:35 into the game. Sturges scored on a 13-yard run.
After an exchange of punts, Card’s pass was intercepted by Marcus Thomas, whose return set up Sturges’ 3-yard TD on the next play. Just 7:20 into the game, Allen led 21-0.
Momentum switched on the ensuing kickoff as Nathan Parodi returned it 84 yards for a Cavalier TD. On the second play of the second quarter, Card rushed for a 3-yard TD to close the gap to 21-14.
On the first play of the second half, Kyle Eaves returned an interception 28 yards to give Lake Travis a 24-21 lead. Allen retook the lead 28-24 on a two-yard run by QB Grant Tisdale. Two more scores – a 42-yard FG by Lake Travis and a four-yard TD run by Sturges, made the score 35-27 entering the fourth quarter.
Card finished the game with strong stats, except for throwing three interceptions. He rushed for 86 yards and a TD while completing 21 of 32 passes for 224 yards and a TD.