By Michael V. Hannigan
The Malakoff Tigers won a physical, District 11-2A battle Friday night over the Teague Lions, 27-13.
The tone for the game was set midway though the first quarter by Malakoff’s Garrett Airheart, whose crushing block of a Teague player brought oohs and aahs from both sides of the stadium.
Even the referees weren’t immune, with one being taken off the field on a stretcher in the first half after two players rolled under his feet and knocked him to the ground. Reports later in the game indicated he would be OK, but was going to the hospital as a precaution.
The win pushed Malakoff’s record to 7-1, 3-0 and dropped Teague to 4-4, 1-2.
Kameron Fletcher led the way for the Tigers with 110 yards receiving on four catches, including a now-you-see-him-now-he’s-gone touchdown that covered 38 yards, an interception and a key fourth down stop on defense. He even got a flying shoulder bump from Head Coach Jamie Driskell.
Fletcher made his presence felt right out of the gate, intercepting Lion quarterback Daryl Brooks on the first play from scrimmage. The Tigers took that turnover and turned it into the first points of the game when Demontes Dowell found the end zone on a seven-yard run. Cesar Garcia hit the PAT to make it 7-0.
The Lions answered back quickly, going 70 yards on two plays, with Brooks tying the score on a 40-yard rumble.
The rest of the first half was owned by the Tigers. Two long drives ended in a pair of Garcia field goals, one of 33 yards and one of 23 yards. Malakoff scored another touchdown right before the half on an 18-yard Jacob Teague run to take a 20-7 lead into halftime.
Defensively the Tigers throttled Teague in the half, allowing just 105 yards, 70 of which came on two plays.
Malakoff extended the lead to 27-7 on Fletcher’s touchdown catch and run less than two minutes into the third quarter.
Jacob Teague helped the Tigers grind the clock in the second half, gaining 100 yards on 16 carries, and 142 on 30 carries and one touchdown for the game. He also had a nice game throwing the ball, particularly in the first half, and finished the game 9-for-19 for 220 yards and a touchdown.
Brooks added a third quarter touchdown on a 6-yard run to help the Lions pull to within 27-13, but Driskell leaned on his defense in the fourth quarter and coordinator Brent Watkins’ crew was up to the challenge, shutting down the Lions on four straight possessions.
Three times during the game, the Lions had a first down inside the Malakoff 20. On two of those three possessions the Tiger defense stopped the Lions on fourth down.
Playing a big part in the second half defensive surge by Malakoff was the punting of Kash Armstrong. The senior was called on three times in the fourth quarter and responded with kicks of 40, 33, and 31 yards. Each kick put Teague inside its own 20; each time the defense stopped the Lions.
In addition to Fletcher’s interception, the Tigers also picked up an interception by Armstrong and a fumble recovery by Keonte Ross.
Malakoff will be on the road next week, traveling to Elkhart for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.