Fourth-down gambles help Skyline down DeSoto

IRVING, Texas -- The difference in Dallas Skyline’s 41-31 area playoff victory over DeSoto came down to fourth-down, short-yardage situations.

In front of a sellout crowd of 11,500 Saturday at Irving Schools Stadium, quite simply, Skyline converted. DeSoto did not.

Once in each half, DeSoto (10-2) turned the ball over in its end of the field after failing on fourth down. Both gambles eventually resulted in Skyline touchdowns.

Skyline (12-0) gambled, too, but was successful on all three of its attempts in the fourth quarter. The most important of the Raiders’ gambles, a fourth-and-2 at the DeSoto 7 with four minutes to play, produced the game-clinching touchdown when junior quarterback DeVante Kincade went over the right side of his line and scored untouched.

“We wanted the revenge,’’ said Kincade, who was Skyline's quarterback in last year‘s 38-0 area loss to DeSoto. “The guys that played in last year’s game have talked about it for 365 days. I kept hearing the game would come down to the quarterbacks and I wanted to prove I was the best one out there.’’

Kincade called his performance Saturday his best of the season. He finished 15-of-21 passing for 264 yards and two touchdowns and ran 23 times for 92 yards and three scores.

DeSoto coach Claude Mathis didn't second-guess the decisions to go for it on fourth down, saying he would do the same thing again given a chance.

“I have that kind of confidence in our team,’’ Mathis said. “I know Skyline has a good defense, but we’ve been successful in those situations all season.’’

DeSoto pulled within 34-31 in the final 18 seconds of the third quarter and got the ball back by forcing a Skyline punt with seven minutes remaining in the game. On fourth-and-1 at their own 29, Devin Rushing got the ball but was stopped for a loss of a yard by linebacker Nigel Robertson, who was a menace to the Eagles all night.

“Nigel had a bad back and didn’t practice all week,’’ said Skyline coach Reginald Samples. “He played great. All of them did.’’

It took five plays for Skyline to turn Robertson’s stop into points. Sample shunned a field goal that could have increased the Raiders’ lead to six points, and it paid off when Kincade got into the end zone.

DeSoto got the ball back once after that, but a hard hit by Robertson forced a fumble. Skyline pounced on it and proceeded to run out the clock.

The animosity between the teams showed throughout the game, with numerous personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on both teams. It really came into focus how much the teams don’t like each other when, instead of shaking hands after the game, the teams had to be separated.

“I’ve never seen anything like that in my life,’’ said DeSoto’s Mathis. “Skyline’s guys were coming across the field, waving and hollering at my guys, and Coach Samples was doing it, too. It shouldn’t have ended like that. That was two teams battling the entire game.’’

Said Samples: “We just got excited at the end. That’s two bitter rivals playing four years in a row in this round of the playoffs. These are the best two teams in the region, in my opinion. The kids know each other and things are said before the game. But I hate it that we didn’t shake hands. I’ve never had a team that didn’t shake hands after a game.’’

Skyline will play Klein Oak in a Class 5A Division I regional playoff at 7 p.m. Saturday at Waco ISD Stadium.