STORY BY DAVE CAMPBELL
WALLER — Marks of greatness. The Bryan Vikings displayed them often in a 10-game winning streak.
A great Marks played a significant role in ending Bryan’s streak. Xavian Marks scored on the game’s second play, the first of three dramatic and fast-paced touchdowns for the 170-pound senior. He flashed to the left sideline and sprinted untouched for 73 yards to knock open the door for the George Ranch Longhorns’ 48-13 victory in Class 5A Division I regional action Friday at Waller Stadium.
“They had big speed, and they hit us on some big plays,” Bryan coach Ross Rogers said. “Offensively, we just couldn’t keep things going. I knew we needed a big offense tonight because we weren’t going to shut a team down like that.”
After their initial drive went for a touchdown, the Vikings (10-2) faltered. Junior quarterback B.J. Ross was under pressure much of the night and rarely broke free for the first down scrambles that had so ably complemented the running of Bryan tailback KeeKee Johnson.
George Ranch (12-1) will face Temple at 2 p.m. Dec. 6 at Round Rock’s Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex in the state quarterfinals.
“It’s disappointing that we didn’t do a better job offensively and keep pressure off our defense,” said Rogers, whose Vikings had 261 total yards compared to 466 for the Longhorns. “We turned the ball back to them, and that was the early disappointment. Give them the credit. They are as fast and as athletic as we though they were.”
By halftime, Marks had rushed five times for 206 yards and three touchdowns. His second score was a highlight. He took a handoff running left on the jet sweep, completely reversed field near the sideline and raced right, eventually angling into the end zone on a 40-yard run.
The third score broke the game open, giving the Longhorns a 35-6 halftime lead. Using a cross-buck action that included a fake to Darius Anderson running left, Marks hit the sideline with good blocking and finished off a 63-yard TD run.
“That particular play and that portion of our offense is something we ran 15 years ago,” George Ranch coach Ricky Tullos said. “One, it’s hard to prepare for, and two, you can see it all week in practice, but the speed that we run those plays at, at any given time, we feel that it’s a safe play that could score.”
Anderson made for good bait, running 12 times for 76 yards and a touchdown before half. Marks didn’t have a carry after halftime. His job was well done and it completed a 28-point second quarter for George Ranch, which had 337 of its 466 total yards in the opening half.
Bryan never led, but the Vikings fashioned an impressive drive on their first possession. Ross, whose 15-yard pass to Sterling Whitley pushed the Vikings to the George Ranch 18-yard line, ran in for the Vikings only first-half score from 4 yards out.
“The physicality of Bryan … they’re physical,” Tullos said. “It took us a drive to match that and get used to the big running back they’ve got. I felt like our defense settle down and started playing physical.”
Some timely offense helped lock it up.
Timon Nolan hit Anderson for a one-play, 36-yard touchdown drive after Jairon McVea’s fumble recovery. Nolan scrambled away from pressure and found Anderson downfield on the play. He did an even better job of scrambling for the only touchdown of the third quarter.
“Last year against Elgin, we had them 28-0 at half and let them get back in it,” Tullos said. “That was the message we sent in the locker room today. We really wanted to focus going out and doing what we needed to do to get the game over. We did a good job of doing that in the second half.”
Johnson had 21 carries for 179 yards and scored his only touchdown in his typical style, barreling over a Longhorn defender at the goal line. Johnson finished the year as the Vikings’ best single-season rusher ever with 2,187 yards.
“There ain’t but one team gonna finish happy,” Rogers said. “It’ll feel better in a week or two and we’ll realize our accomplishments. Right now if you’re a competitor you hurt, and that’s where we are right now.”
Story courtesy of The B/CS Eagle