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Knights ride strong second half to bi-district playoff win

Mac Journalism Sports Team

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Photos by Ian Clennan, Gregory James and Madison Olsen.

AJ TAKES FLIGHT: With 130 yards on 16 carries, senior Alexander Julian surpassed 2,000 yards for the season. Julian, along with teammates Gage and Sutton, proved the ground game that helped McCallum beat Medina Valley, 37-14. Photo by Gregory James.

Host Medina Valley scored its second touchdown with less than a minute to go in the first half, and after the Panthers converted the point after, they led visiting McCallum, 14-13, at halftime of the bi-district playoff game between the 25-5A champion Knights and the No. 4 seed Panthers from District 26-5A.

The Knights’ historic season seemed in jeopardy of an unexpected ending at Panther Stadium in Castroville.

McCallum responded to the tense moment with a completely dominant second half, outscoring the Panthers 24-0, thanks to an overpowering three-headed rushing attack and a stingy defense that created three game-changing second-half turnovers.

The Knights defense made a statement immediately in the third quarter. Medina Valley went for it on fourth down, and the Knight defense was up to the test, creating a turnover on downs. McCallum took over at is own 32-yard line and drove the ball within range for Ian Carson’s 24-yard field goal that gave the Knights a 16-14 lead they would never surrender.

DERON ALL NIGHT: Deron Gage led all rushers with 192 yards on 14 carries. He scored on touchdown runs of 62 and 42 yards. Photo by Ian Clellan.

After the Knight defense forced the Panthers to punt on their next series, Deron Gage ran it in from 42 yards out to expand the Knights’ lead to 23-14. It was Gage’s second long touchdown run of the game after a 62-yarder in the first half that produced the Knights’ first points of the game.

The Knight defense made another big play in the next Panther drive, forcing a fumble that put the Knight offense back in business at the Panther 42-yard line.

From there, Alexander Julian found pay dirt from 34 yards out, and the Knights were comfortably ahead, 30-14.

After another punchless Panther drive ended in a punt back to the Knights, Max Perez punctuated another Knight scoring drive with a 16-yard touchdown run to make it 37-14.  It was the second score of the game for Perez, who scored from 18 yards out in the second quarter.

Jack Switzer sealed the outcome with a fourth-quarter interception with three minutes left in the game.

SILVER AND GOLD: Thanks to a complete team effort in the second half, the Knights are bi-district champs for the second year in a row. Photo by Madison Olsen.

The Knight defense created four turnovers, two fourth down stops, a fumble recovery and an interception.

With another strong game, 130 yards on 16 carries, Alexander Julian surpassed 2,000 rushing yards for the season.  The scariest stat for McCallum’s future playoff opponents is that Julian was third on the team in rushing yards for the game. Gage totaled 192 rushing yards for the game on only 14 carries and even added a 19-yard reception. Perez ran for 154 yards on 20 carries.

For the season, Julian has 2,100 yards rushing (according to MaxPreps.com), while Perez has 911 and Gage, 863.  Depending on how long the playoff run continues and how well the Knights run the ball in those games, there is a distinct possibility that the Knights could have three 1,000-yard rushers in a single season.

Coach Schneider posted to his Twitter account after the game that the 2017 Knights join the 1966 Knights as only the second team in school history to win 11 games. Only five teams in school history have won 10 games.

The Knights will try to become the first 12-win team in school history on Friday in Navasota when they face Rosenberg Terry (5-4), the No. 3 seed from District 27-5A, in the area playoffs. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Future McCallum student Liam Doran gets his shirt signed by senior running back Alexander Julian after McCallum’s 37-14 win against Medina Valley. Doran said he had planned to bring paper to the game but left it at home so he asked Julian to sign his Future Knight shirt instead. Photo by Gregory James.

 

 

 

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Knights ride strong second half to bi-district playoff win