HOUSTON — Katy was great. On most nights, thirty-five points, 235 total yards and only three penalties to no turnovers would be enough to beat anybody, even in the Class 6A-Division I regional semifinals.
But North Shore’s Dematrius Davis was simply better.
In a performance that Texas high school football aficionados will talk about for a long time, the junior quarterback and Virginia Tech verbal commit produced six touchdowns and 317 total yards in a 56-35 North Shore win on Friday, Nov. 29, at NRG Stadium.
“We had a guy there for him on every play,” Katy coach Gary Joseph said. “We had other guys responsible for doing things, too … We were about a step off on everything we did. The plays he hurt us on weren’t all designed runs; there were plays where he extended them and we didn’t do a good enough job keeping him in the pocket. We were there, we hit him several times, but we just didn’t get him on the ground. Credit to him.”
The Tigers finished a season with legitimate state-championship hopes at 12-1 overall, ranked No. 8 in the nation and No. 2 in the state in Class 6A. Defending state champion North Shore improved to 12-1 and avenged its season-opening loss to Katy.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Davis did not run the ball once during Katy’s 24-21 win over North Shore three months ago. On Friday, he absolutely dominated with his legs.
Davis carried the ball 21 times for 283 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 13.5 yards per carry, and scored on runs of 40, 30 and 1 yards.
“I knew I was going to have to get some carries,” Davis said. “I had some stuff open the first time we played them and I didn’t take it. I was forcing the ball into stuff, so I just had to come in with the mindset of doing what I had to do.”
Joseph admitted he did not expect to see Davis get as many opportunities as he did to run the ball.
“No,” Joseph said. “I really expected the other kid No. 3 (North Shore senior running back Zach Evans) to get the ball quite a bit more.”
For good measure, Davis showed off his arm, too, completing 8 of 12 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns of 25, 48 and 11 yards, respectively.
“I don’t even be thinking, I be playing,” Davis said with a laugh. “It was great. I was just doing what I needed to do and taking what they were giving me.”
North Shore led 35-21 at halftime and extended that to 42-21 on Davis’ 30-yard run less than three minutes into the second half.
But the Tigers made a memorial rally to climb within a touchdown at 42-35 with 3:21 left in the third quarter.
Running back Jalen Davis scored on a 10-yard run, and on the ensuing North Shore punt, kicker John Villalobos attempted an ill-advised punt after a high snap deep in North Shore territory that went right into the arms of Katy senior defensive back Daylin Johnson, who cruised into the end zone for the Tigers’ second special teams touchdown in the game.
But that was as close as Katy got. Davis found Charles King on an 11-yard scoring strike, and then capped the scoring on a 1-yard plunge with 7:19 left.
“He’s very talented,” Katy senior linebacker Jaylen Philips said. “He’s a state champion for a reason. Give credit to him. He has overall talent—he’s quick, he’s fast, a very knowledgeable player who knows the game very well.”
Largely because of Davis, who effortlessly managed his way through heavy Katy traffic time and time again to create his own running and passing lanes, the Mustangs converted 8 of 12 third downs.
“It was missed tackles, missed fits, getting misaligned,” Katy sophomore linebacker Ty Kana said. “We had a good game plan. We just couldn’t execute. I feel we prepared well, but it got away from us. They made more plays than us.”
Katy starting running back Ron Hoff played, but was ineffective as he was clearly hindered by a high ankle sprain suffered against Ridge Point two weeks ago. Hoff, who had not practiced in two weeks as of early Tuesday morning, had just 27 yards on 10 carries. Jalen Davis, who started at running back, had 44 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
In all, Katy managed just 79 yards on 24 carries, which forced the offense to throw more than it would have liked.
In the end, Joseph said his team “got hit with a buzz saw.” North Shore compiled 554 total yards and averaged 8.7 yards per play. Katy averaged 5.3 yards per play, but had 13 fewer first downs than North Shore.
The Tigers fell to North Shore for the second straight year in the regional semifinals, and for the third time in four years in the playoffs overall.
In the last four seasons, Katy has lost just seven times. North Shore is responsible for four of those defeats.
“We have to continue finding ways to get this done,” Joseph said.