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Allen breaks away from Keller Central in fourth

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Keller Central nearly ended Allen's assumed championship run before Euless Trinity even got the chance.

With a ball-control game plan and a mistake-free performance, the Chargers held a four-point lead in the fourth quarter and all the momentum.

But in typical fashion, Allen rallied in the final frame, scoring on all three of its fourth-quarter possessions en route to a 30-17 Class 5A Division I bi-district win Saturday at Cowboys Stadium.

Allen (11-0) advances to face Trinity (11-0) at 2 p.m. next Saturday at Cowboys Stadium.

"We knew there was one team that was going to stop us and that was ourselves," said Allen quarterback Alec Morris. "We were making mental mistakes from the get-go. In the fourth quarter, we got drives together and we knew how to finish it. We got it done."

Following an Allen fourth-down attempt that fell about two inches short, Central (8-3) took a 17-13 lead late in the third quarter when Martin Alvarez took a Tanner Tausch screen pass for 41 yards and a touchdown.

Allen didn't let the Chargers enjoy the lead for very long. Two minutes later, receiver Cortland Tolbert found the end zone on a 15-yard reception to put Allen back on top, 20-17.

That score opened the flood gates. Central had a 26-yard gain on third down negated by a penalty and was forced to punt. Allen kicked a field goal six plays later. Following a Central interception, the Eagles found the end zone again, this time on a 1-yard Morris run that put the game way with a little more than 2 minutes remaining in the game.

"The momentum swung a little bit and we knew we had to make some plays to get it back," said Allen head coach Tom Westerberg. "Our kids have done it all year long. Hopefully we'll keep rolling."

Central came into the game as an overwhelming underdog but played Allen as good as anyone has this year up until the fourth quarter.

The Chargers went 9-for-15 on third down, scored all 17 of their points off three Allen turnovers -- one a forced fumble on a vicious hit by Alvarez on Allen's Jonathan Williams -- and held Allen to field goals on three red zone attempts.

Charger quarterback Tanner Tausch played one of the best games of his career, going 18-for-25 for 299 yards, although he threw two interceptions in the second half.

Zach Sanchez, a two-way player at receiver and defensive back, caught four balls for 57 yards in addition to a touchdown pass, and his play against Allen receiver Andrew Rodriguez was instrumental to slowing down Allen's offense.

"They were blitzing a whole lot," Westerberg said. "We just had to find a couple of creases and do some more zone blocking. The guys did a good job. We ran the ball well in the fourth quarter when we had to."

But Allen recommitted to Williams and the run in the second half, but Williams, who rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown on just 16 carries, fumbled after the hit by Alvarez in third quarter.

Central answered with a field goal and then took the lead after Allen's failed fourth-down attempt, but like it's done to so many opponents this year, Allen stormed back to break Central's heart.

"This [being down late in games] isn't unfamiliar territory for this team," Morris said. "We knew how to finish the ball game and go get a win."