McKinney Boyd quarterback Ryan Shackleton (13) is pressured by Allen's Jason Williams (53) during Friday's District 5-6A ballgame. The Broncos were under heavy siege from the Allen defensive line all night in a 37-24 loss.

McKINNEY — The Allen defensive line may as well have taken up residence in the McKinney Boyd backfield during Friday’s District 5-6A showdown.

It was only fitting then that with the Broncos eying a go-ahead scoring drive early in the fourth quarter, that unit swing the pendulum in favor of the state-ranked Eagles for good. Amid a heavy pass rush on third down from the Allen 36-yard line, Boyd junior Ryan Shackleton lost the football while being wrapped up by the Eagles’ defense. 

Allen junior DJ Hicks scooped up the loose ball and took it 52 yards for a touchdown that swayed the tide of a back-and-forth ballgame in one fell swoop. That defensive score headlined a 17-point fourth quarter by the Eagles (4-1 overall, 1-0 district), who pulled away from a game Bronco (5-1, 1-1) squad for a 37-24 victory at McKinney ISD Stadium.

“We had to have somebody make a play,” said Chad Morris, Allen head coach. “We can’t keep turning the football over like we are and expect to win. Someone had to make a play and it was great seeing the defense create a turnover. That was the big momentum change right there.”

The Eagles were nursing a 23-17 lead early in the fourth quarter following a 21-yard field goal by senior Caden Williams with 11:56 to play. Boyd promptly answered back with a 45-yard completion from Shackleton to senior Peyton Shaw (four catches, 120 yards), but a false start deterred the Broncos from advancing any further. Backed into third-and-16, Shackleton escaped the pocket but was promptly swallowed up by an aggressive Allen defensive front before fumbling the ball.

“Ryan’s a warrior and was competing like crazy. He’s a battler and I’m proud of him,” said Joe McBride, Boyd head coach. “Things like that happen as a quarterback, but I’m proud of how he competes and he always gives us a shot. Stuff like that happens in this game.”

Hicks’ subsequent touchdown contributed to a run of 17 consecutive points that helped Allen distance from the Broncos. On Boyd’s ensuing drive, the Eagles’ defense again got the upper hand after stuffing senior Carter Whitefield short of the first down on fourth-and-four near midfield.

Allen promptly converted that turnover on downs into 20-point lead after senior Jaylen Jenkins (15 carries, 121 yards, two touchdowns) scored from 4 yards out with 2:06 left for a 37-17 advantage. Boyd accounted for the game’s final points on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Shackleton (15-of-28, 267 yards, two touchdowns) to senior Ty Burkett with 22 ticks to go and even recovered an onside kick. Allen snuffed any further efforts by the Boyd offense, as sophomore Zina Umeozulu sacked Shackleton as time expired.

Umeozulu joined Hicks, junior Kaleb Nettles and senior Blake Vaughan as part of a stifling effort up front by the Eagles, who overwhelmed the Broncos in the trenches. That contributed to just 35 rushing yards by Boyd on 0.97 yards per carry.

“I think we’re really good on the D-line. I think our kids are talented up there and they play hard,” Morris said. “They’re going to continue to get better, but we’ve got to cut the self-inflicted wounds out. As long as those are there, it’s going to be like this. But credit to Boyd because they play extremely hard.”

Allen did itself no favors with three turnovers committed in Friday’s win, all on fumbles. The Eagles were coming off a 49-28 win over Tyler Legacy on Sept. 16 where they coughed up the ball five times.

The last of three fumbles came on Allen’s first drive of the third quarter — a takeaway that Boyd converted into points after a halfback pass from Whitefield to senior Austin Stephenson for a 37-yard touchdown that trimmed Allen’s lead to 20-17.

The Eagles promptly made a change at quarterback, inserting junior Lathan Van Ausdall into the game. He went on to complete all five of his pass attempts for 54 yards and added 39 rushing yards in the second half.

“We were turning the ball over too much. For whatever reason, we needed a spark,” Morris said. “We ended the first half with a big touchdown pass — Mike (Hawkins) did a great job on that read — but we then come out and turn it over again. We just needed a boost.”

Despite the continued turnover woes, Allen never trailed during Friday’s ballgame. Part of that stemmed from a big edge in field position early on, scoring three times in the first half and all on drives that began in Boyd territory.

Senior Jordyn Tyson set up the first following a lengthy punt return to the Boyd 40-yard line. Four plays later, Jenkins found the end zone on a direct snap for a 28-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead with 3:48 left in the opening quarter.

Special teams again willed the Eagles during the second quarter. Sophomore Kayvion Sibley had a pair of kickoff returns into Boyd territory that led to quick touchdown drives — Allen junior Devyn Turner found the end zone on a 15-yard run with 4:34 left in the half and Hawkins lobbed a deep ball to Tyson (seven catches, 119 yards, one touchdown) for a 34-yard score with 46 ticks remaining before halftime for a 20-10 lead.

“Sibley did a tremendous job setting up those short-field touchdowns,” Morris said. “It was a huge spark for us to get something positive going, and I was extremely pleased with how our return game did.”

Even then, the Broncos were still plenty game early on. Boyd recovered two fumbles in the opening quarter and forced a turnover on downs early in the second quarter.

The Broncos answered Jenkins’ opening score with 6:12 left in the first half following a 34-yard toss from Shackleton to junior Jonathan Patterson, who spun off an Allen defender and found the end zone to pull the score even at 7-7.

After Turner put Allen back in front, the Broncos trimmed the gap to 13-10 on a 29-yard field goal from senior Austin Woodruff with 1:19 to go before the Eagles answered back in just 33 seconds.

“They’ve got a great football team. They’re three times our size with a great coaching staff,” McBride said. “They’ve got a good team and we have a good team. We just didn’t make some plays when it got tight. We’ve got to be great on everything when we’re playing a great team like this.”

The Eagles return to action at 7 p.m. Friday when they host Little Elm, while Boyd looks to rest up during its bye week.

For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow Matt Welch on Twitter.

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