MURPHY, Texas -- Last year, running back Jonathan Williams was all Allen (6-0, 3-0) needed to storm past Plano East (2-4, 0-3) in District 8-5A play.
This year it took a second effort for a first down from Williams, a Missouri commit, to help seal a 42-38 comeback win for the Eagles on national television.
"I knew I had to get two yards," Williams said of the late fourth-quarter play. "I made sure we ran the clock down and I tried to put the team on my back."
In a game that was predicted to be a blowout for Allen, the No. 3 team in the nation according to ESPNHS and No. 1 in the ESPN Dallas 5A area rankings, Plano East led the majority of the night thanks to a 366-yard, three-touchdown night by quarterback Corey Wesley.
Faced with a third-and-2 late in the fourth quarter, Williams absorbed two hits and reached out to gain enough yardage for a first down, allowing Allen to drain the clock and move closer to victory.
The Eagles would eventually be forced to punt, but valuable time had been erased and Wesley was sacked as time expired, ending the Plano East upset threat.
Wesley and the Plano East offense got off to a fast start in the game. They capitalized on Alec Morris' fumble near the Plano East goal line on Allen's first possession and marched down the field to score first on a 4-yard run by Wesley.
“They were playing harder than we were,” Williams said.
From there, both teams traded blows, beginning with Allen’s 69-yard pass from Morris to Andrew Rodriguez just two plays after Plano East’s first score.
Allen’s next drive ended in a fumble, this time by sure-handed Williams near the 50-yard line, that led to a Dante Taylor 1-yard touchdown run minutes later.
Add a 22-yard field goal for East in the second -- bringing the halftime score to 17-7 -- and upset alerts began sounding for all of Collin County. The craziest stat of the night: Allen didn’t see the red zone in the first half.
Plano East looked like it would build on its momentum when it returned the opening kick of the second half for a touchdown. But the score was erased by a flag, forcing Plano East to set up shop near its own goal line.
That’s when the upset winds first showed signs of weakening. Wesley threw his first pick of the night to Camden Cooper, leading to a 3-yard touchdown on a keeper by Morris.
On the next drive, backed against the goal line again, Wesley was able to pitch a shovel pass to Taylor, who ran 83 yards for a touchdown.
After a 5-yard touchdown run by Williams cut the margin to three, Corey Bassett took the kickoff 97 yards to temporarily push the Plano East lead back up to 10 at 31-21.
Allen scored again on a 45-yard pass to Rodriguez, and then got the break it had been waiting for all game on an interception by defensive lineman Brandon Franklin that he returned to the Plano East 5-yard line. Williams would run in for a touchdown.
East made one last push in the fourth, scoring on a 35-yard pass on fourth-and-19, but Allen countered one final time on a 1-yard rush by Williams.
"I think we got a little too confident," Williams said. "We had been having some big wins, so I think we just came out sluggish."
Williams finished the night with 108 yards on 29 carries, pushing his team to victory again over Plano East -- this time in instant classic fashion in front of an ESPN2 audience.
“We had to figure out how to win a game,” Allen head coach Tom Westerberg said.