Two Texas high school football legends faced each other last night on Monday Night Football. Andy Dalton, a Katy High School alum, was Quarterbacking the Dallas Cowboys with Dak Prescott out for the season. Kyler Murray, a former Allen Eagles legend, was quarterbacking the Arizona Cardinals. It was a game that many thought would be high scoring, though the game ended up lacking early offense and was not a competitive game.
This was Andy Dalton’s first game as the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Dalton was the full-time starter for just one year with the Katy Tigers. In 2005, he led Katy to the state title game, in which they lost 34-20 to Southlake Carroll. That year, Dalton threw for 2,877 yards and 42 touchdowns. He then stayed in-state, going to TCU. He was an outstanding quarterback at TCU, leading them to an 11-2 season his Junior year and an undefeated regular season his senior season.
In 2011, Dalton was the 35th pick in the NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Dalton was the Bengals starting QB for 9 seasons, totaling over 30,000 yards and 205 touchdowns and leading Cincinnati into the playoffs four times while making three Pro Bowl teams. This offseason, he signed a one-year 7 million dollar contract to be a backup QB for the Cowboys. With the injury to Dak, Dalton is now the starter.
Kyler Murray had arguably the best career in the history of Texas high school football. Murray was 42-0 as the Allen starting QB. 42-0! He led Allen to three straight UIL State Championships and was the Gatorade Player of the Year his senior season. He finished his high school career with over 10,000 passing yards, over 4,000 rushing yards, and 186 touchdowns.
Kyler went to Texas A&M, though after Kyle Allen grabbed the starting QB job, Murray transferred to Oklahoma, still as a back-up QB. It was expected that he would focus on baseball and head to the MLB minor league, but he stuck it out with the Sooners football program and in his senior year he led Oklahoma to a Big 12 Championship and he won the Heisman Trophy.
Texas high school football fans tuned into the Cardinals vs the Cowboys game expecting to see a shootout between two former TXHSFB standouts, but the game got off to a slow start. It was 0-0 after the first quarter. The Cowboys came into the game with only one of their starting lineman, and he went down early in the game with an injury. Without their normal solid offensive line to block, Dalton had no time to pass and Ezekiel Elliot had no holes to run through.
After going scoreless in the first quarter, Murray got the offense moving in the second quarter. In the span of about 8 minutes, Murray hit Kirk for two touchdown passes, one for 6 yards and one for 80 yards. On a drive between the two touchdown passes, Drake scored on a one-yard run. The Cardinals took a 21-3 lead into half-time and cruised to victory.
Murray was able to pass for 188, run for 74 and have 3 total touchdowns, but he went 9 for 24 passing and it was not an efficient game for him. He did control the ball, with no turnovers, and kept the ball moving down the field, doing enough on offense to get his team the win.
It is tough to evaluate Andy Dalton. He did manage a late-game touchdown drive, finding Amari Cooper four a touchdown pass. He ended up 34 for 54 for 266 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. But without his starting offensive line, Dalton rarely had time to throw and had to get the ball out quick for a lot of short passes.
This was a win for Allen over Katy. The Arizona Cardinals won 38-10 to move to 4-2. The Cowboys fell to 2-4 but they are still at the top of their division. Both teams, and both former Texas high school football legends, have a good chance to lead their teams into the playoffs. Perhaps we might see a playoff showdown of these two legends.