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ET Football: New Diana scores late to win thriller, 49-48

By Hayden Henry
Nov. 30, 2017 at 11:11 p.m.


FRISCO — Time and time again throughout their storied run through the regular season and into the playoffs, New Diana has had to overcome and find a way.

So when Jacksboro went ahead with under two minutes to go on Thursday in the third round of the postseason, the Eagles simply just went back to work.

Jackson Sampson completed a fourth-down pass, followed with the go-ahead strike and Andy Prazak drilled the point-after attempt with 12 seconds remaining to lift New Diana to a 49-48 win over Jacksboro in a thriller at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco.

"Our kids have just been resilient all year," New Diana head coach Robbie Coplin said. "They've had to fight back and they've faced some really tough battles.

"Each time they've faced that, they've all stepped up, made plays and found a way."

With the win, New Diana (10-3) advances to the Class 3A, Division II, Region II final. The Eagles, in the third round for the first time since 1995, now await the winner of Gunter and Holliday for its state quarterfinal opponent.

Momentum switched early and often on Thursday between the two, who exchanged blows throughout the first half for a 28-28 deadlock. Jacksboro (11-2) took its first lead, 42-35, at the end of the third quarter, setting up the wild finish.

New Diana responded quickly and, with 1:57 left, the Tigers went back on top, 48-42, after a missed point-after attempt.

That set the stage for one final drive for Sampson, who finished with 454 passing yards and six touchdowns, and company to go to work.

It took one play for New Diana, pinned at its own 25, to reach Jacksboro territory on a 40-yard Sampson pass to TJ Rogers. After taking a sack at the Tiger 23, Sampson converted a fourth-and-9 with a 12-yard strike to Cody Payton.

The next play, Sampson hit Rogers for the third time of the night on a 10-yard fade route for a 48-all tie. Prazak then nailed the point-after attempt and it would take two plays for New Diana to walk away with the win.

Rogers finished with 126 yards on eight catches, including touchdowns of 10, 16 and 36 yards. Payton added a 57-yard scoring haul and Cole Willeford had a 14-yard touchdown catch from Sampson, who moves to the fourth round with 61 touchdown throws on the season.

Jacob Choyce finished with two touchdowns overall, one on the ground and one through the air to go with an interception for the Eagle defense, who also got a big tackle for loss from Zane Freeman on a fourth-quarter drive from Jacksboro.

Both teams finished with four touchdowns and one stop defensively in the first half for a tie game at the break.

Choyce picked off Jacksboro's third play of the third quarter, the Tigers' third pass attempt of the game.

The Tigers finished with 336 rushing yards on 50 attempts.

New Diana weathered the storm in the third quarter after two turnover on downs, giving Jacksboro the seven-point lead heading into the final 12 minutes.

A tough run from Cole Willeford preceded a 57-yard touchdown from Sampson to Rogers.

Freeman's tackle for loss, Jacksboro's first and only negative rushing play, forced a punt with 5:08 left.

The Tiger defense forced a third turnover on downs before scoring the go-ahead touchdown on a six-play, 59-yard march. The point-after attempt, however, sailed wide right.

That left the door open for New Diana and its prolific offense who delivered once again with a game-winning march into the record books for the Eagles.

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