For the first time since 2013, Katy High was tested in a district contest.
Tompkins made the Tigers sweat in a showdown of two undefeated teams on Oct. 3, but Katy persevered, earning a 35-30 win at Legacy Stadium.
Tompkins’ onside kick with less than 90 seconds left went Katy’s way, and the Tigers ran out the clock after a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Falcons fell short.
“You never want it to come down to an onside kick, but I’m glad we got put under pressure,” Katy coach Gary Joseph said.
The Tigers extended their district winning streak to 68 games. It’s the second longest active streak in the state, behind Aledo, and the third-best all-time in the state.
Over the previous 67 consecutive wins, Katy won by an average of 39.5 points per game. The five-point decision was the closest since a 17-12 win over Seven Lakes in 2013.
“It’s good for competition,” said Katy junior quarterback Bronson McClelland, who completed 6 of 9 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown to go with a rushing touchdown. “When you’ve got a game like that, we’ve just got to keep our composure. A win’s always good; 5-0 is a good thing. We have a lot of stuff to fix, because that game shouldn’t have been that close, but Tompkins fought hard. You can’t take anything from them.”
Katy improved to 5-0, 1-0 in district play. Tompkins lost its first game of the season, dropping to 5-1, 1-1 in district.
“A loss is a loss,” Tompkins coach Todd McVey said. “There’s no moral victory. I was proud of their efforts. They played four quarters against one of the best teams in the state of Texas.
“It’s about how they responded to things when things were down. They responded well, and that’s the maturity of our team this year.”
Katy led 14-10 at halftime before a strong start in the second half turned things briefly into a rout.
The Falcons started the third quarter with possession but fumbled a handoff on the first play from scrimmage that was recovered by Katy sophomore defensive end Malik Sylla. Four plays later, Katy turned that takeaway into a 1-yard sneak by McClelland into the end zone.
The Falcons punted on their next drive, and Katy senior Jordan Patrick took the return 52 yards for a score and a 28-10 lead with 8:21 left in the third quarter.
Tompkins forced to punt on second drive of second half and @jordanpatrick24 returns it 52 yards for the score. Katy's rolling now, up 28-10, 8:21, 3Q. #txhsfb @FootballKaty @Katyfootball pic.twitter.com/gLIQwPMCvk— Dennis Silva II (@densilva2) October 4, 2019
“A special teams touchdown is a great game changer. It’s big,” McClelland said.
A little more than five minutes later, after Tompkins missed a 52-yard field goal to turn the ball over on downs, McClelland found Patrick on a 65-yard flare for a 35-10 advantage.
“I told them at halftime they just had to regain their composure and go out and play,” Joseph said. “The plays (Tompkins) were making, they were completing some 50-50 balls where our guy was covering them well and they just made a play. It was good to come out in the second half and get some points on the board early.”
But Tompkins wouldn’t let up.
Jalen Milroe, the Falcons’ junior quarterback and Texas commit, threw a 73-yard scoring pass to Gabe Atkin 52 seconds after Patrick’s score. With 8:30 left in the fourth quarter, Milroe found Garrett Mack on a 30-yard reverse flea flicker for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 35-24.
Katy junior safety Dalton Johnson intercepted Milroe, the latter’s first pick of the season, with 3:02 left. But Katy punted and Milroe again found Atkin on a 10-yard score with 1:27 remaining. The two-point conversion pass attempt was off, however, and Tompkins’ onside kick attempt was not successful.
Still, McVey raved about his signal-caller. Milroe completed 19 of 28 passes for a single-game program record 407 yards and three touchdowns to one interception, consistently exposing the Tigers’ lack of defensive containment off the edges.
“It starts with him,” McVey said. “I told him, hey, be you. He made really good decisions. He made one bad play and it didn’t linger. That’s the best growth mindset for him. He just let it go and he did a great job giving us a chance at the end.”
Joseph was impressed as well.
“He’s a good football player,” Joseph said of Milroe. “He made some plays with his feet, extended some plays. That’s what you want in a quarterback. Some of the passes he threw up, I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ But our kids didn’t do a good job on the ball and their kids came back to the ball.”
Katy senior running back Ron Hoff had 173 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries. The 6-foot-1 Atkin added 297 yards and two touchdowns on nine catches; the 297 receiving yards were also a single-game program record.
Tompkins outgained Katy 478-352 in total yards.
“We stayed true to our rules and made plays happen as best as we could,” said Katy junior linebacker Shepherd Bowling, who had two of Katy’s six sacks in a return game from injury. “It’s about coverage and getting pressure when you go against spread teams like that. The D-line did a great job getting pressure. We’ve got to tighten up in the secondary, but we got the win and I’m happy about that.”
The Tigers were challenged, which they had not been since Week 1 against North Shore, and came away victorious.
Joseph said it was a valuable learning lesson, one he feels his players heeded.
“Our kids went out there trying to get the knockout punch instead of just playing Katy football and just being thankful for a four-yard gain,” Joseph said. “But it’s about learning, it’s about life. They understand now that they have to respect everybody and every game is important, every play is important. It’s a good test for us.”