BREAKING THROUGH

Tompkins downs Katy to snap Tigers' 75-game district winning streak

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 11/5/20

It had been 75 games, 12 years and spanned three decades between district losses for Katy High.

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BREAKING THROUGH

Tompkins downs Katy to snap Tigers' 75-game district winning streak

Posted

It had been 75 games, 12 years and spanned three decades between district losses for Katy High.

But don’t bother telling all that to Tompkins, conquerors of the Tigers’ daunting 75-game district win streak via 24-19 win over Katy on Thursday evening at Legacy Stadium.

Yes, the Falcons beat Katy for the first time in seven tries. Yes, they handed Katy a district loss for the first time since a 27-21 overtime loss November 8, 2008 to Cinco Ranch. And yes, they now have the upper hand for the District 19-6A title, likely ending the Tigers’ 11-year reign of district supremacy in the process.

But, the Falcons will tell you, it was just another win. Just the next game on the schedule.

“It’s a big win, but this doesn’t win us a state championship,” said junior receiver Joshua McMillan II, who caught eight balls for 146 yards and three touchdowns. “It’s just one game.”

The No. 14 state-ranked Falcons improved to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in 19-6A. No. 3 state-ranked Katy, which is also ranked No. 6 nationally, dropped to 5-1 overall, 2-1 in district.

Tompkins’ program-defining win was two years in the making. Ever since last season’s 35-30 loss to Katy on Oct. 3—at the time, the Tigers’ most competitive district game since a 17-12 win over Seven Lakes in 2013—the Falcons knew they had what it took to beat Katy.

That was their inspiration. To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, as the cliché goes. And the Falcons worked, tirelessly and punishingly, during the offseason and every practice and game to claim that No. 1 spot.

“I told them all the stuff I put them through in offseason, this is the reason why,” Tompkins coach Todd McVey said. “That’s the stuff we’re proud of, and their efforts.”

One of the program’s offseason traditions are “Falcon curls,” something that brings a wince to every player when mentioned.

Following an intense weight room session, McVey puts his players through a “gut-check workout” in which they do various amounts of curls with three bars, ranging from 95-135 pounds. They do 3-5 sets, with no release of the bar or else the workout is restarted. They start with the 135-pound bar, move on to the 115-pound bar and then the 95-pound bar.

One time, the Falcons had to do those 3-5 sets nine times before being dismissed.

“Guys come into this district saying they want to beat Katy, but they’re not willing to say what they are going to do to beat Katy,” said senior quarterback and Alabama commit Jalen Milroe, who completed 15-of-21 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns. “We came in saying we’re going to beat Katy, and it came from the confidence of this entire team and program. We had heart and we played as a family.”

The Falcons simply outplayed the Tigers.

“At times, it didn’t look like us,” Katy coach Gary Joseph said. “We just didn’t play well enough to win. It was a good game. We had opportunities to win. We had the ball with four minutes left in the game at the 40-yard line with a chance to win and we didn’t do it.”

Katy outgained Tompkins in total yards, 384-285, but Tompkins had fewer penalties (two for 15 yards to Katy’s five for 25) and no giveaways to Katy’s two.

Tompkins’ veteran defense, from the front to the secondary, took advantage of the inexperience of Katy sophomore quarterback Caleb Koger, who completed just 7 of 15 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown to two interceptions. Koger, making just his fifth start of the season, had played well beyond his years in the previous four games—he entered the Tompkins game with no interceptions in 54 pass attempts—but against Tompkins, he struggled reading coverages. The Falcons played more man defense than they usually do to mix defensive looks with their typical zone alignments.

“It was just us not being afraid,” said senior defensive back and team captain Colby Huerter, whom McVey said gave his team a passionate speech during halftime, when Tompkins led 14-10. “They’re a really good team, obviously. But our offense played phenomenal and our defense held them. That’s all that matters.”

Milroe was spectacular. He and McMillan burnt Katy’s secondary all night long. It was that dynamic duo that provided the dagger with 54 seconds left in the third quarter.

Ahead 17-13 on 4th-and-17 from the Katy 30-yard line, McVey went for it. With pressure closing in, Milroe stayed poised, gathered himself and aired out a bomb to McMillan just beyond the goal line at the front of the end zone, justifying his coach’s faith and putting his team ahead 24-13.

“Big time players make big-time plays in big games,” McMillan said.

On the next Katy drive, Tompkins junior defensive lineman Sean Dubose got his second sack to force a punt. Tompkins punted on its next drive, and then the Tigers struck when Koger found Taylor Saulsberry on a 17-yard score with 4:41 left.

The two-point conversion pass attempt was almost intercepted. Katy forced another Tompkins punt on the next possession and its offense took over on its own 38-yard line with 3:49 left.

The Tigers used senior running back Jalen Davis, who was brilliant all evening with 228 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, to methodically drive down the field. But on 4th-and-13 from the Tompkins 47-yard line, Koger was sacked by senior defensive lineman Justin Bevrotte with 2:02 left, turning the ball over on downs with no timeouts left and handing the Falcons a hard-earned win.

“As much as anything else, I hope they take away that they have to play your game,” Joseph said of his players. “You can't try and be somebody you’re not. I talked to some of the kids and that’s what they said; they were trying to do too much. You don’t need them to do too much. You need them to be who they are. Hopefully they learn from that.”

Senior defensive back Dru Polidore said the Falcons came into the game knowing what would happen.

“We came in knowing we belonged in a game like this,” Polidore said. “This is no surprise to us. It’s just another win.”

The Falcons wanted to come back with a vengeance after last year’s tough loss, Polidore said. Take care of business, he said.

They did.

“It feels pretty good,” Huerter said about the magnitude of the win. “About time, that’s all I’ve got to say.”

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