ARLINGTON — The fight was there from the start.
Jonesboro has proven people wrong all season long, from winning its district to advancing to the state championship game for the second-straight year. And Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Stadium, for those who thought the Eagles would be mercy-ruled by halftime, Jonesboro made the naysayers, once again, eat their words. Ultimately, though, Borden County was too strong up front and too deep as the Coyotes ran away with a 60-22 win over the Eagles for their second straight Class 1A Division I state title.
“I’m extremely proud,” Jonesboro head coach Eddie Gallegos said. “These guys put in a lot of time and hard work. It’s a blessing to coach these guys. We ask a lot out of them and they put out a lot for us.”
After putting up a total of 12 points, all in the first half, before being mercy-ruled, 60-12, in last year’s state title game against Borden County, the Eagles started strong on the same stage against the same opponent a year later.
After recovering a Borden County fumble in the end zone, the Eagles took an 8-0 lead with less than a minute left in the first quarter. The drive was 11 plays, more than six minutes long and was capped off by 12-yard pass from Ethan Lilljedahl to Trevor Sellers.
It didn’t take the Coyotes long to answer, as Nick Proulx couldn’t be caught on his 64-yard touchdown run 17 seconds later to tie the game.
Instead of hanging their heads, the Eagles popped the Coyotes right back. Wyatt Young sprinted away for a 70-yard score to give Jonesboro the 14-8 edge at the end of the first quarter.
Young finished with more than half of Jonesboro’s total offense as the senior running back had 176 yards on 22 carries.
“I love being out there,” Young said. “I wanted to give it one last shot and play my heart out.”
Jonesboro’s lead didn’t last long as Proulx scored twice more in the second quarter to take a 24-22 lead at the break. Proulx, who was named the game’s offensive MVP, finished with 11 carries for 251 yards and four touchdowns.
“I thought we executed the game plan really well there until the last possession inside the five. We chewed up clock,” Gallegos said. “We were concerned about their speed. That played out, definitely, in the first half. We did that. We knew we had to win the turnover battle and we definitely didn’t do that. First half, it was dang near to the tee.”
The Eagles ate up the game clock in the first half with 17:30 compared to Borden County’s 2:30. But when the second half started, Jonesboro didn’t control the clock as much due to turnovers. The first three Eagle possessions of the third quarter ended with turnovers. All of them were fumbles, but the third was a strip by Borden County’s Ben Justice who returned the ball 40 yards for the score.
“I don’t know where all those turnovers came from,” Gallegos said. “That’s one of those questions we’ll be asking ourselves for a while. We’re usually really good at taking care of the football. Today we just didn’t. It definitely put us behind the eight-ball. It let Borden County get that lead out and pull away there at the end.”