ARLINGTON — Much like he had done all season, Jamarian George gave Shadow Creek instant life Saturday at AT&T Stadium.
His state-record, 99-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of the Class 5A Division I state championship game against Highland Park helped the Sharks believe again in an afternoon Highland Park owned. Shadow Creek trailed by 18 points before that run.
"That one was really long," Shadow Creek coach Brad Butler said. "But he's kind of made a habit the last few weeks of just pulling the thing down and being able to find a crease. He's so dangerous once he gets a little bit of open grass. I knew if we could get a block or two that he'd be hard to handle."
Call George's run a bonus in a game in which Highland Park's championship experience made a difference. The Scots' 27-17 win in front of 28,792 completes a three-peat. Highland Park coach Randy Allen, who nearly retired in the offseason and coached Butler during his Brownwood tenure in the late 1980s, continuously cements his legacy.
The Chandler Morris-Finn Corwin connection worked wonders for Highland Park. Morris was 23-of-35 for 262 yards and three scores with an interception. Corwin caught 12 of his passes for 142 yards and a score.
Highland Park's Prince Dorbah was more damaging with his six tackles, four sacks and four tackles for a loss. Highland Park tallied nine sacks and four interceptions.
It's what makes George's run remarkable. It beats a 98-yarder from Waco's Jarred Salubi against La Marque in 2007 as the longest in state title game history.
After George's score, Shadow Creek's defense forced a Highland Park punt. Kealon Jackson returned it 25 yards to the Highland Park 28-yard line.
Shadow Creek trailed by 10 points and faced a fourth-and-4 from the Highland Park 22. Shadow Creek quarterback Kyron Drones was leading the huddle. George was seemingly hurt on the long touchdown run but lined up as a receiver on this drive.
Highland Park (16-0) did what it had done most of the day — stopped the Sharks' offense in its tracks. The turnover on downs placed the ball back in the Scots' hand with four minutes left in the game.
Shadow Creek was trying to become just the third first-year program in the state's history to win a state title in the debut season. Beaumont West Brook did so in 1982 and Lubbock Estacado in 1968. Saturday was new for Shadow Creek (15-1), much like everything else had been this year. Shadow Creek worked through an independent schedule for two years to get to this point. It'll go down as one of the Houston-area's most memorable seasons.
Shadow Creek senior offensive lineman Cam'ron Johnson was proud after the game, even if Saturday didn't go the team's way.
"Us coming together, it's been an amazing season," Johnson said. "We were coming basically from nothing these two years of us grinding and working it out. Nobody thought that a first-year program would make it."
Shadow Creek's defense keeping the Sharks swimming was a constant theme but one that didn't hold up. The unit forced a Highland Park punt after Jared Jackson's touchdown catch from George in the first quarter. Shadow Creek was behind 7-6 at that point, but George threw an interception to Whit Winfield on the opening play of the next drive.
Shadow Creek's defense also forced a punt after an Ian Hart field goal for a 14-9 deficit early in the second. There was a holding call on Isaiah Harper's 22-yard run on the first play of the Sharks' next drive and a punt followed.
Then, there were the events that followed George's 99-yard touchdown run. One undernoted aspect of the game for Shadow Creek was the midgame loss of running back Marquez Huland.
Instant replay, being implemented at the UIL state championships for the first time, was applied Saturday. The spot of a second-quarter punt return from Highland Park's Case Savage was reviewed, with officials confirming he stepped out at the Shadow Creek 24 for a 13-yard return.
There was another review of a Corwin touchdown pass at the end of the third that was overturned. Allen and Corwin weren't pleased about it after the game, with Allen even saying the reviews take too long.
In the end, the plays weren't consequential.
Shadow Creek gained 142 total yards through 54 plays minus George's big run. The senior George and Shadow Creek had plenty of fans and respect from the Highland Park side.
Butler and Allen shared few words after the game. Butler wasn't shy about the influence Allen has had on his own coaching career.
Allen was complimentary of the Sharks, too.
"They're a tough football team," Allen said. "Very good on defense and playmakers on offense. It was a hard-fought game. I thought Shadow Creek had a great team and I thought coach Butler did a great job getting them ready for this game."
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