LEAGUE CITY – Having watched his predecessor under center direct a pair of dramatic rallies against Foster a year earlier, Kyron Drones decided to get in on the comeback fun against their 10-5A rivals Friday afternoon.
Drones and the Shadow Creek Sharks overcame both a 17-point halftime deficit and a one-point fourth quarter gap to outlast the Falcons in a 36-31 Region III-5A Division I Football Playoff Semifinal thriller at Challenger Columbia Stadium.
“I just had to take the team on my back and have us win it,” Drones said following the game. “We just kept saying to ourselves (in the locker room at halftime) that we needed to keep going and keeping fighting. We were messing our own selves up in the first half.”
As impressive as the 2018 finishes between the two talented Houston area squads turned out to be, Friday’s postseason epic might have proved even more improbable on the Sharks’ part.
Brad Butler’s squad faced a quick 17-0 mountain to climb in the first half and later trailed again by 17 at 24-7 at intermission.
“I didn’t expect anything less out of this match-up,” said Butler, whose 13-0 team advances to meet Manor in the state quarterfinals on Dec. 7 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. “It’s been a nail biter for both sides every time. They (Foster) played a great ball game and it’s a shame someone has to come up on the short end. It’s
been a great series between these teams.”
While the Falcons took advantage of SC miscues in building their early 17-point cushion, though, the Sharks turned the tables on Foster with a 23-point explosion in the third quarter.
Shadow Creek cashed in on both a Falcons’ fumble and a fourth-down incompletion off a mishandled snap by punter Bryson Harrell.
After Eric Landaverde booted a 22-yard field goal field to pull the Sharks within 24-10, Drones dashed 40 yards to the end zone following Cody Jackson’s fumble to make it 24-17 with 4:05 left in the third.
The Sharks’ defense forced a quick three-and-out three out by Foster and Shadow Creek promptly tied it up at 24-24 on a perfectly executed 21-yard backside screen between Drones and tight end Trent McGaughey.
The punt mishap came on Foster’s next series, paving the way for Seth Jones to grab a 41-yard touchdown pass from Drones in stride to give the Sharks their first lead at 30-24 with 10 seconds left in the period.
A missed extra point following the Drones-to-Jones TD connection opened the door for Foster to regain the upper hand and they did exactly that at 31-30 on Isaac Johnson’s four-yard run with 8:30 remaining in the contest. Shadow Creek then appeared to be in even more trouble, when they fumbled the ball away to the Falcons inside their own five-yard line a few minutes later.
However, the Sharks stopped Foster on fourth-and-goal three plays later from their own one and proceeded to take it a classic 99 yards in 10 plays for the go-ahead score.
Drones (18 of 31 for 316 yards, three TD’s) immediately hit Jones for 31 yards to get Shadow Creek out of trouble and later nailed C.J. Guidry, who made a clutch 14-yard sliding catch at the goal line to give the Sharks a 36-31 advantage with 2:30 left.
“I saw when I rolled out, that he (Guidry) was open, I just threw it and he caught it,” said Drones, who also ran for 118 yards in the contest.
The SC defense then stopped Foster on downs with Ryan Stubblefield’s fourth down pass falling incomplete and Drones motored five yards on fourth-and-three to help the Sharks run off the remaining time on the clock.
The Falcons built their 24-7 first-half lead behind Nicholas Arellano’s 24-yard field, Stubblefield’s TD passes of 36 and 33 yards to Johnson and Jackson, respectively, while Shadow Creek initially got on the board on Kelvon Brown’s two-yard run.