By Michael V. Hannigan
COLLEGE STATION – History closed its book on the Malakoff Tigers’ 2011 season Friday night following a 24-7 area round playoff loss to the East Chambers Buccaneers.
But the Tigers made History stand up and take notice this year. Malakoff finished with a 9-3 record on the year, and is 26-8 in the first three seasons of head coach Jamie Driskell’s tenure, which is his first stint as head coach.
The Tigers three-year run under Driskell is the school district’s best ever, topping the 24-5 record posted by the 1947-48-49 squad. Last season and this season also mark the first time the Tigers have had back-to-back nine-win years.
“This is my 16th year and this is the most fun I’ve ever had,” said Driskell
Driskell said he would miss the seniors, who played their final football game as Tigers Friday night.
“They are high character kids, high energy kids and they will be missed,” he said. “We’re going to miss them because of their talent, but we are going to miss them more because we just like hanging out with them every day.”
Friday night in College Station, big plays and an eight-play sequence during which Malakoff was hit with 50 yards in penalties ended the Tigers’ dreams of playing Thanksgiving week.
The Tigers were down 17-7 and facing a stiff wind late in the third quarter when they took over on their own 27 yard line. In 11 plays, Malakoff marched 59 yards, mostly on the arm of quarterback Jacob Teague, who went 5-of-6 for 36 yards to set up the Tigers with a first down on the Buc 14 early in the fourth quarter.
Momentum, and the wind, were squarely on Malakoff’s sideline as the Tigers broke the huddle on first down, with the cheerleaders chanting, “We Believe, We Believe.”
But on first down, the Tigers were hit with a holding penalty. After an incomplete pass, the Tigers were also hit with a holding penalty on second down. On third and long, Teague hooked up with Kameron Fletcher for a 14-yard gain that would have given kicker Cesar Garcia a chance at a field goal to make it a one-possession game, but the Tigers were called for a dead-ball personal foul that wiped out the gain and made it fourth down.
On fourth down Teague completed a pass to Garrett Airheart, but the play was well short of what was needed for a first down and the ball went over on downs to East Chambers.
Maybe even more importantly, momentum went over to the Bucs, who drove 73 yards – helped along by yet another 15-yard penalty against the Tigers – for a touchdown and the 24-7 final.
From the time Malakoff took over the ball at 3:36 of the third quarter to the end of the game, the Tigers drew six penalties for 65 yards and the referees drew the ire of the Malakoff fans, coaches and players.
Hometown reporters often say that the game wasn’t as bad as the score when writing about the teams they cover, but in this case it is true. The Tigers put up more first downs (11 to 10) than East Chambers and out-gained the Buccaneers as well (235 to 218).
The Malakoff defense throttled East Chambers for much of the game, however a handful of big runs helped the Bucs build their lead. The Tigers were helped by a big interception by Kameron Fletcher.
The Buccaneers were led by Glenn Roberts with 87 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. They also got a touchdown from Tyler Chambers and a 28-yard field goal by Mario Guevera.
Jacob Teague paced the Tigers as he has all year, going 17-of-37 for 149 yards and one interception. His favorite target Friday was Fletcher, who had 10 receptions for 88 yards.
Teague also had 50 yards on the ground on 14 carries. Tate Taylor saw extended time at running back and picked up 33 yards on six carries and a touchdown. He also had 35 yards on four catches.