WACO — Harker Heights was immediately overwhelmed.

After delivering one of the best regular seasons in school history, the Knights could not extend the run into the playoffs as No. 22 DeSoto dominated the first half, building a 45-14 advantage en route to a 65-28 victory in the Class 6A, Division I bi-district round.

The teams traded shots to start the game, and then, the Eagles claimed complete control.

Harker Heights entered the game averaging 51.0 points and 493.5 yards, but DeSoto limited the Knights to 190 total yards in the half, while forcing two turnovers with each leading to Eagles’ touchdowns. 

DeSoto marched 65 yards in seven plays after receiving the opening kickoff with senior quarterback Matt Allen recording the first of four touchdown passes in the half, connecting with Johntay Cook II for a 30-yard score less than three minutes into the contest.

The Knights responded with a six-play, 70-yard scoring drive punctuated by Re’Shaun Sanford’s 27th rushing touchdown of the season on an 11-yard run with 6:54 remaining in the first quarter.

Then, DeSoto began delivering in every aspect.

The Eagles, who came into the contest riding a six-game winning streak, outscoring its opponents 320-102 following a 42-21 home loss to No. 4 Duncanville on Sept. 17, posted 14 points in less than three minutes as Allen sandwiched touchdown passes to Mike Murphy and Jaden Trawick around a Knights’ three-and-out punt.

Harker Heights embarked on a drive bridging into the second quarter, but it was unproductive as sophomore Jai’den Fletcher missed a 28-yard field goal, and DeSoto turned the error into points, producing an 80-yard scoring drive capped off by Christopher Henley II’s 1-yard touchdown with 7:57 remaining in the half.

The Eagles followed by transforming two more turnovers — an interception and a fumble lost on a kickoff — into touchdowns before Dylan Plake’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Aimeer Washington ended the streak of 35 unanswered points to make the score 42-14 with 70 seconds showing on the clock.

A failed onside attempt, however, allowed DeSoto to kick a successful 30-yard field goal as time expired in the half.

In the second half, the Knights could not generate any momentum until scoring two touchdowns in the final 3:17 of regulation. Plake completed scoring passes of 2 and 20 yards to Terrance Carter and Marcus Maple, respectively.

Paced by Sanford’s 152 yards on 21 carries, Harker Heights finished with just 280 total yards of offense.

Plake completed 14 of 27 passes for 114 yards and three touchdowns, while Maple had eight catches for 54 yards.

DeSoto posted 631 total yards of offense, including 397 rushing yards behind three players with at least 90 rushing yards, while Allen completed 17 of 26 passes for 207 yards.

The outcome prevents Harker Heights from earning its first playoff victory since Jerry Edwards inherited the position as head coach in 2013. The program’s last postseason win was in 2002.

The loss also thwarted Sanford’s quest to produce Killeen ISD’s single greatest season for a running back.

With his output against the Eagles, Sanford finishes with 2,331 yards — 169 shy of the 2,500-yard record set by Ellison’s Reggie Duncan in 1997 — to go with 27 touchdowns. Making the achievement even more impressive is the fact he has amassed the total on just 242 carries, giving him an average of 9.6 yards per carry.

Additionally, he entered the postseason as the district’s 18th best receiver with 272 yards and four touchdowns on 16 receptions.

In 11 games, Sanford has topped the 200-yard mark five times, including consecutive 300-yard performances against Shoemaker and Killeen in mid-October highlighted by a career-high 366 rushing

yards against the Grey Wolves.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.