If it were a boxing match, Carl Albert was the one that landed the biggest most timely punches. In a game that saw four lead changes in the second half alone, the final blow, an 87-yard kickoff return by Diego Richards late in the third quarter proved to be the knock-out blow as 3rd ranked Carl Albert upset top-ranked MacArthur Friday night, 39-36, sending the Titans to the 5A Championship game against 2nd ranked Bishop McGuiness.

The two teams traded blows early on, as the previously undefeated Highlands scored twice in the first quarter to take a 15-7 lead at the end of the first stanza. CA responded with 10 straight points, including a 52-yard field goal from Conner Watts to close out the second quarter and the Titans led 17-15 at the half.

The teams would scores and swap the lead throughout the third quarter, and the Highlanders would take what would prove to be their final lead of the game late in the quarter on a two-yard plunge from Teddy Thomas, giving MacArthur a 29-24 advantage. But on the ensuing kickoff, Diego Richards fielded the ball at his own 11-yard line, breaking through the MacArthur coverage team for an 89-yard touchdown, and after a two-point conversion was successful, Carl Albert led 32-29.

MacArthur Highlanders Fans

With a little of nine minutes remaining, Carl Albert would drive 51-yard on two plays to take a 10-point lead at 39-29. The Highlanders responded, led by quarterback Anthony Love-Kemper, responded with a 7-play, 72-yard drive to tighten the game at 39-36. On the ensuing Titan possession the MacArthur defense came up big, forcing Carl Albert to turn the ball over on downs in their own end of the field with a little over a minute to go.

The Highlanders, who finish the season with a 12-and-1 record, totaled an incredible 388 yards on the ground during the contest, led by 227 from Teddy Thomas, but in the end, it was a desperation Anthony Love-Kemper pass that  was intercepted on the game's final play that sealed the Carl Albert victory.

Carl Albert quarterback Johnny Bizzell was the difference in the contest, throwing for  97 yards on 10-of-18 passing, with an interception, to go with 128 yards rushing. He caught a 25-yard touchdown pass that gave Carl Albert its largest lead, 39-29, with 9:16 in the fourth quarter. Four of Carl Albert's touchdowns went for 25 yards or more, including a 55-yard scoring run from Dadrian Taylor, who totaled 100 yards on the evening on 11 carries.

Photo by: Kim Kunze