Allen vs Guyer

Allen senior Jaylen Jenkins strolls into the end zone for one of his three rushing touchdowns in Friday's 38-31 win over Denton Guyer.

DENTON — It took all of one snap on Friday for the Allen football team to lure Denton Guyer outside of its comfort zone.

One season removed from a 56-38 victory over the Wildcats, in which the Eagles ran for 342 yards and eight touchdowns, those same demons resurfaced Friday at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex, and as early as the first play from scrimmage.

Allen senior Jaylen Jenkins took a carry off tackle and was practically untouched in firing off a 75-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead just 12 seconds into the ballgame.

Although that play wound up being the Eagles’ longest gain of the night, it was a harbinger of things to come. Allen (6-1 overall, 3-0 district) went on to total 357 rushing yards on almost 9 yards per carry, mixing that attack with a stifling pass rush that slowed Guyer (7-1, 3-1), ranked No. 4 in Class 6A, just enough to preserve a 38-31 victory.

“I felt all week long like we had a great week of preparation. Hats off to coach (Rodney) Webb and Guyer. That’s a great program and we knew this would be a great ballgame tonight,” said Chad Morris, Allen head coach. “Our guys have gotten a little better each week and that’s impressive, watching our guys play great football at the right time. We’ve always said that if we can eliminate the turnovers and not beat Allen, we’ve got a chance. 

“It was good to see that tonight. I’m proud of our kids and our coaching staff.”

It was the continuation of a formula hatched in last week’s 71-29 pummeling of Little Elm —a game where Allen leaned heavily on its run game and mustered timely stops on defense to subdue a high-powered Lobo offense.

The Eagles built off that performance on Friday, going a second straight ballgame without committing a turnover and never trailing the state-ranked Wildcats. 

With Jenkins sending a shot across the bow on the game’s first play, Allen didn’t relent. Jenkins ran for 190 yards and three touchdowns on just 15 carries, adding 70 receiving yards as the team’s leading pass-catcher as well. He got plenty of help in the backfield, be it 57 yards from junior Devyn Turner as well as 106 rushing yards from sophomore quarterback Mike Hawkins. The first-year signal-caller added 129 passing yards on 10-of-14 attempts in the win, highlighted by a 19-yard strike to senior Jacob Brasher with 2:53 left in the first quarter for a 14-7 lead. Hawkins added a 3-yard touchdown run one series later early in the second stanza and had additional success scrambling to convert a number of third downs on Friday.

“Mike has to become a threat in the run game,” Morris said. “What was most impressive with Mike was earlier in the game on some key third downs and him being able to pull the ball down and run when something wasn’t there.”

Guyer had ample opportunities to match Allen’s firepower but unraveled one too many times in Allen territory after turning the ball over on downs three times in Friday’s loss. That included on back-to-back drives in the first half — both either in or near the red zone — which contributed to the Eagles building a 21-7 lead following Hawkins’ aforementioned touchdown run. 

Both times, the Wildcats surrendered possession back to Allen on fourth-down sacks of quarterback Jackson Arnold, a common theme throughout Friday’s ballgame. For all the success Arnold had nickel-and-diming his way downfield at times — he finished his night with 307 passing yards and two touchdowns — he spent much of the night under duress as a deep, aggressive Allen defensive front contributed to eight sacks on the Guyer signal-caller.

“[Defensive coordinator David] Branscom did a good job on that side of the ball making some adjustments, especially late in the game and trying to bring some pressure,” Morris said. “That was critical for us and our guys played well.”

Faced with a double-digit deficit for much of the night, Guyer gave itself new life to begin the second half. Trailing 24-14 at the break, the Wildcats matched their entire first-half scoring output just five-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter. Grayson O’Bara, who led all receivers with 12 catches for 130 yards, took an 18-yard end around into the end zone and running back Jackson Foster broke off a 58-yard touchdown run one series later.

But Allen had a counterpunch ready each time — the Eagles matched each Guyer touchdown with one of their own, as Jenkins piled up touchdown runs of 3 and 25 yards to build a 38-28 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats manufactured a 14-play drive to advance to the Allen 5-yard line before committing their third turnover on downs following an underthrown ball into the end zone with 9:12 remaining in the ballgame. The Eagles leaned on the run to bleed more than six minutes off the game clock before missing a 50-yard field goal with 2:53 to play.

After Arnold ate two more sacks, Guyer’s attempt to make it a one-score game was relegated to a 39-yard field goal from Jaxon Pirtile with 1:14 remaining to make it 38-31. Allen recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the remainder of the clock to sew up the signature win of the Morris era thus far and take sole possession of first place in 5-6A.

“It’s all about us. We’ve just got to keep getting better. We’ve got corrections to make and a big one at home next week. But I like where this team is right now and how we’re continuing to get better,” Morris said.

The Eagles next return home for a 7 p.m. Friday kickoff against McKinney.

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

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