KELLER — Following the scenario that unfolded in District 3-6A last week, Abilene High controlled their own destiny in an attempt to make the playoffs for the 18th time in 19 seasons.
All the Eagles had to do was take care of business and win the final two games of the season — the first part of the task coming against Keller.
A playoff-hungry Keller (5-4,3-2) and a team fighting to keep their playoff ship afloat, however, had other plans. The Indians never relinquished the lead to Abilene (2-7,1-4), winning 35-21 Thursday at Keller ISD Athletic Complex.
Holding onto a slim 21-14 margin against an Abilene team fighting for their playoff lives, Keller had to muster their best effort in order to sustain momentum not only in the game but towards a playoff run as well.
Keller then managed to orchestrate what Head Coach Carl Stralow referred to as “one of the best drives we’ve had at this school in the last five years.”
Keller started from the 1-yard line and masterfully conducted a 15-play, 99-yard scoring drive capped by quarterback Sloan Henry’s second touchdown pass of the night — this time to wide receiver Colton Nelson from 17-yards out. That scoring strike pushed the lead to 27-14 with only 2:10 left to play in the third quarter.
“I’m glad we got it cause we needed it,” Stralow said. “I’m just real proud of the kids right now! How they competed and fought through adversity and we’ve had adverse situations all year but they’ve really come together well and I love this group.”
That drive would provide a tremendous amount of momentum that helped put Keller in the driver’s seat in the latter stages of the game.
Keller’s ground game, led by a speedy Enoch Ntchobo helped them obtain a 20-14 lead at the half. Ntchobo’s first score was a 68-yard foot race that allowed the early game momentum to swing in favor of Keller.
The next scoring drive for Keller would turn to the passing ability of quarterback Henry, who orchestrated an 8 play, 83-yard scoring drive that saw him complete 4-of-5 passes for 67 yards. The scoring play came on a Henry-to-Nelson long bomb connection, a pass that wafted into Nelson’s waiting and outstretched hands near the goal line.
With its playoff hopes fading, Abilene attempted to restore their team morale and turned to running back Jordan Booker who bounced off a tackle in the backfield and spun past a defender into the end zone to score Abilene’s first touchdown of the night and have it be a 14-7 ball game.
Ntchobo finished with 151 yards and two touchdowns with his second touchdown helping Keller amass a 20-7 lead.
Abilene responded with a 78-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Ezzell to Raekwon Millsap to put the score at 20-14. That touchdown gave Abilene some hope heading into the half, but Keller would control the clock and the second half to down their district rival and keep their playoff hopes alive heading into the final weeks of the season.
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