Southlake Carroll raced to an early lead then coasted to a 41-20 win over DeSoto in a Class 6A Division I area-round football game Saturday at Newsom Stadium.
Running back T.J. McDaniel rushed for 169 yards, scored twice, and set up two more touchdowns as the Dragons advanced to the regional round. Carroll (12-0) will meet Euless Trinity (11-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Apogee Stadium in Denton.
Carroll, ranked No. 6 in the final Associated Press Class 6A state poll and third in the Star-Telegram 6A Power Rankings, led 28-0 before DeSoto (9-3) picked up its initial first down.
McDaniel gained 63 yards on the third snap of the game on a screen pass from quarterback Will Bowers to set up a Bowers 15-yard TD run.
The Southern Methodist University commit took the first snap of the ensuing series 45 yards down to the DeSoto 12 yard line. That set up a six-yard scoring run by Bowers and a 14-0 lead with 7:13 left in the first quarter.
Carroll’s defense, led by junior lineman Dillon Springer, kept steady pressure on DeSoto’s dynamic quarterback Shun’Darion Ward and smothered the Eagles running game. DeSoto’s first five drives ended with four punts and an interception and nary a first down.
Carroll safety/wide receiver R.J. Mickens picked off the DeSoto pass to set up his own 17-yard scoring run on a reverse. McDaniel’s seven-yard TD run with 8:03 left in the first half gave the Dragons a 28-0 lead.
The Eagles finally scored when Ward hit Texas Tech commit Vontae Shenault with a six-yard pass with 7:12 left in the second quarter.
The touchdown failed to spark DeSoto. Carroll’s defense forced three more punts and held the Eagles on downs before McDaniel gave the Dragons a 41-6 lead with 8:49 left in the game on a three-yard run.
Game was over when: With the quick-strike capability of DeSoto, the game never really felt over until McDaniel’s three-yard scoring run with 8:49 left that gave the Dragons a 41-6 lead. Carroll substituted liberally on offense and defense after that, allowing the Eagles to score two late touchdowns. Tyson Alexander scored on a five-yard run and Ward added a second TD pass, to Lawrence Arnold Jr. from eight yards out, with 2:09 left.
Play of the game: McDaniel’s 63-yard gain on a screen pass on the game’s third play was executed perfectly. On a third-and-ten at their own 25, McDaniel faked a block on a DeSoto rusher then ran past him to the flat. Bowers tossed a perfect pass to McDaniel who raced down the right sideline. McDaniel ran into traffic around midfield and looked to have stepped out of bounds. The officals ruled otherwise and the senior was tackled at the DeSoto 12 yard line. Two plays later Bowers faked a pitch on an option play and jogged into the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 9:06 left in the first quarter.
Offensive player of the game: McDaniel rushed 34 times for 169 yards and two touchdowns and caught four passes for 73 more yards. It was actually a pretty tough night for McDaniel who only had three of his 34 carries that gained more than 10 yards (45, 23, and 12).
Defensive player of the game: Springer was terrific in the middle and the Carroll linebackers, led by Michael Parrish, did a great job of containing Ward. Dragon defenders continually forced Ward back to the middle of the field and never allowed him to get outside to make a big play.