Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 1 — Galena Park North Shore vs Duncanville

Photo by Zac Byrd

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December 22, 2018

Galena Park North Shore 41, Duncanville 36

There’s not much that can be said about this game that hasn’t already been said, but I’m definitely going to give it a whirl as Galena Park North Shore and Duncanville treated the over 42,000 in attendance and countless others on TV to one of the best games in the history of Texas high school football to close the 2018 season out.

We’ll get to the game’s final play at the end, but lost in that miracle play was for 47:57 seconds, we were treated a true heavyweight bout, with powerhouse teams throwing knockout punch after knockout punch and each time, the opposing team would get up, dust themselves off and land a big punch of their own. It was truly riveting theater for any sports fan, not just a fan of TXHSFB. The game featured lots of big-time recruits, two unbeaten teams, one each from the state’s two biggest markets (Dallas and Houston) and it was capped by the fact we got to see the heart of a champion from both sides. Both teams had really only been tested once this year, (North Shore in their round three win over Katy and Duncanville in their semifinal win over Allen).

The game started out with a bang on the first play of the game as North Shore’s defense stepped up forcing a Panthers fumble, which was scooped by Ashton Reynolds and returned for a touchdown giving the Mustangs a 7-0 lead just ten seconds into the action. Duncanville would answer right back, scoring 10 straight points as Victor Escalona drilled a 33-yard field goal and Trysten Smith scored on a 19-yard run to put the Panthers up 10-7 with 5:44 left in the first quarter. North Shore would answer quickly as sophomore QB Dematrius Davis hooked up with sophomore WR Shadrach Banks for a 51-yard touchdown pass and after the two point conversion, NSHS was back in front 15-10. Duncanville would score with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter as Smith again found the end zone, this time from seven yards out and DHS took the lead back at 17-15. The shootout would continue as just two plays later Davis and Banks would hook up for a sensational 80-yard pitch and catch to put North Shore up 22-17 after a wild first quarter.

Both defenses would settle in after the wild first quarter, with Duncanville getting back on the board with another Escalona field goal to cut the North Shore lead to 22-20. North Shore would answer back marching 75 yards in six plays scoring on a 33-yard pass from Davis to RB John Gentry to give the Mustangs a 29-20 edge with 4:33 left in the half. North Shore had a chance to add more points before the half after recovering a Duncanville fumble, but after moving to the Duncanville 37 the Mustangs drive stalled and the lead remained at nine.

Duncanville’s defense settled in after halftime and forced a pair of North Shore punts in the third quarter and after missing a field goal on their opening series of the second half, DHS cut the North Shore lead to 29-23 after Escalona nailed his third field goal of the night, this one from 35 yards away.

The Panthers would force a second straight three and out and momentum had squarely shifted to the red and blue clad squad from the DFW area. Duncanville would take their first lead of the night as Smith scored his third touchdown of evening on a 52-yard run making it 30-29 Panthers. For the first time all year, North Shore faced a second half deficit so we were very intrigued to see how the Mustangs would handle the adversity. Consider that question quickly answered as North Shore marched 77 yards in nine plays to regain the lead at 35-30 as Davis hooked up with defensive lineman Jordan Revels, who had lined up at tight end, for an eight-yard touchdown pass to get the faithful from Houston back on their feet. This time the ball was in Duncanville’s court and the Panthers had the response, going on what many at the time thought was a state title-winning drive marching 85 yards in nine plays, capped by a five-yard touchdown run from Jackson, who led all rushers with 226 yards on the ground. His scoring run gave Duncanville a 36-35 lead with just 1:02 left and North Shore holding just a single timeout.

North Shore would start on their own 22-yard line needing just a field goal to win the game, Davis would complete a pass to junior RB Zach Evans for six yards to the North Shore 34-yard line on third and four to get the drive started. An 18-yard pass from Davis to Chance Pillar got North Shore into Duncanville territory at the 48-yard line. After spiking the ball on first down, Davis hit Banks for back-to-back passes to the Duncanville 35 yard line with eleven seconds remaining. After a Duncanville timeout, North Shore tried a pass to Evans that was incomplete; but a holding penalty on North Shore pushed the ball back to the 45 yard line with just three seconds left.

That holding penalty may have in hindsight been a blessing in disguise for North Shore, would probably would have strongly considered trying a 52-yard game winning field goal. Instead, the penalty took that off the board and the Mustangs had one shot to the end zone.

In breaking down the play, the first thing you notice is Dematrius Davis he eludes a late Duncanville rush and steps up in the pocket with tremendous awareness to not go over the line of scrimmage. Once the ball is thrown, it at first looks like the trajectory of the ball is going to carry it out of the end zone, but instead it’s an absolute rocket to the back corner. There were two Duncanville DB’s on the scene but also two North Shore receivers, 6-foot, 200-pound Banks and 6-foot-2, 180 pound WR AJ Carter, who is a UTEP commit. Carter, while falling back, made a great play in high pointing the ball and coming down with the miracle touchdown for the Mustangs. After a replay review confirmed the call, a wild celebration was touched off on the North Shore side, while absolute shock ruled on the Duncanville sidelines as North Shore got a walkoff 36-35 win in the 6A Division I state title game.

It’s rare a game that has so much hype going into it not only lives up to the hype but in a lot of ways exceeds it, but that’s what Galena Park North Shore and Duncanville did on a Saturday night to close out the 2018 Texas high school football season. It’s a game that will be remembered fondly on the east side of Houston and one that will live on in the “what if” world for fans and players in Southwest Dallas County, but for those unattached fans and media it was a game that we all agree was an absolute pleasure to watch and summed up all that is great about Texas high school football.

Previous Games:

Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 10 — Eastland at Breckenridge

Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 9 — San Antonio Brandeis vs. Brownsville Hanna

Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 8 — Cuero vs. Texarkana Pleasant Grove

Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 7 — Lubbock Coronado vs. Azle

Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 6 — Malakoff vs. Brock

Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 5 — Iowa Park vs. Glen Rose

Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 4 — Mission Veterans Memorial vs Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial

Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 3 — San Saba vs. Celeste

Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 2 — Longview vs Beaumont West Brook

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