The Dragons wanted a December game, and they got it. Malik Pena caught the corner of the end zone from 3 yards out to propel Round Rock to a 49-45 win over Coppell in the Region II semifinals of the Class 6A Division playoffs. The Dragons will face The Woodlands (13-0) next Saturday in the Region II championship played at Baylor’s McLane Stadium in Waco.
“This senior bunch wants to play in December, and they’ve got a chance now,” Round Rock head coach Jeff Cheatham said.
The Dragons (10-3) trailed 45-42 after Brady McBride tossed a 41-yard touchdown pass to tight end Pierce McFarlane with 1:38 left to play. Round Rock started its winning drive at the Dragon 25, and on second-and-one from the 34, Marc Reed connected with Jason Uwaeze for 46 yards to the Cowboy 20. Runs by Marquis Brown gained 5 and 12 yards before Pena swept left for the winning score with 48 seconds left to play.
“We’ve played in some really big games this season, and this one was no different,” Cheatham said. “The kids understand that you just have to keep fighting, and they did that.”
Coppell (10-3) led 24-21 at the half, but Round Rock scored on its first two possessions of the second half to take a 35-24 lead. Reed hit Tyler Mahnke with a 25-yard strike for the first score, and Pena barreled across from the 4 for the second. Reed finished the game with 236 passing yards with 18 completions in 28 attempts, and Mahnke caught six passes for 121 yards.
The Cowboys fought back late in the third quarter with a pair touchdown passes from McBride. The first covered 11 yards to Blake Jackson and the second went 56 yards to Gabe Lemons. McBride paced the Coppell offense, passing for 348 yards with 21 completions in 42 attempts and rushing for 100 yards on 21 carries.
Round Rock responded with a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive to retake the lead 42-38. Reed broke a tackle behind the line of scrimmage and slipped into the end zone from 1 yard out for the touchdown.
The Dragons forced two Coppell fourth-quarter turnovers, an interception by Ryan O’Keffe and a fumble recovery by Brandon Pflueger. But the Cowboys managed to overcome the takeaways with McFarlane’s wide-open touchdown catch and run.
Round Rock caught an early break when Pflueger intercepted McBride on Coppell’s first possession. Five plays later, Brown, who gained 97 yards on 18 carries, swept left from 21 yards out for the score with just over nine minutes left in the first quarter.
The Cowboys quickly recovered and rolled off three straight touchdowns on their next three possessions. McBride culminated a 13-play, 91-yard drive with a 37-yard scoring toss to Matt Dorrity, who snared nine catches for 134 yards, at the 3:39 mark in the first quarter.