HS Football Playoffs: The Woodlands wins in 3OT to reach round three
CYPRESS, TX -- Good players find a way to make plays, good teams find a way to win games. Malik Johnson and The Woodlands Highlanders did just that in the thrilling 34-28 triple-overtime win over Cypress Woods in the Area Round of the UIL 6A-D1 football playoffs.
Cy-Woods opened the ballgame with a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive finished off by Wildcats RB Trayse Holmes’ five-yard rushing touchdown. Both defenses were able to get stops on the next two series of the game. On the Highlanders’ second possession, the team would get a spark from running back Aaron Shaw. The senior RB who has stepped up greatly for The Woodlands late in the season ripped off a 29-yard TD right through the middle of the Cy-Woods defense to tie the game. The game remained locked at seven until Cy-Woods QB Jackson Jones battled his way into the end zone on a 1-yard sneak to give the Wildcats a 14-7 lead with seconds remaining in the first half.
The second half of this game was essentially a Malik Johnson highlight reel. The senior is listed as a wide receiver but on Friday night he did just about everything except hold the chains. Johnson repeatedly made plays from multiple positions that kept the Highlanders’ season alive. In the postgame interview, Johnson cited his feeling after the playoff loss to the Allen Eagles as his motivation. “I told myself, I wasn’t going to let this team lose,” said Johnson.
Midway through the third quarter, Johnson came up with a nice 37-yard reception to pick up the first down to keep the game-tying drive alive. Three plays later, Malik Johnson lined up at QB and ran around the right side of the defense for a 6-yard TD to tie the game at 14.
In the 4th quarter, special teams nearly lost the game for both sides. Cy-Woods had a kick blocked by The Woodlands with just over five minutes left to play. On the very next series, a botched punt by The Woodlands gave the Wildcats the ball in the red zone. Jackson Jones picked up his second rushing TD of the game to give Cy-Woods the lead with 3:40 remaining.
The Highlanders needed a playmaker and Malik Johnson answered the call once again. Johnson touched the ball six times on the drive for a total of 48 yards and a TD to tie the game at 21, eventually sending it to overtime.
The first OT ended tied at 21 after a blocked and missed FG attempt from both sides. Cy-Woods took the lead in the second overtime, but Malik Johnson’s 17-yard TD reception tied the game at 28 and forced 3OT. The Highlander took the lead in 3OT with Cody Howard’s second TD pass of the night. Howard connected with WR Brenden Lankford-Johnson in the corner of the end zone for the 12-yard score. The mandatory 2-point conversion was no good, but it wouldn’t matter as Cy-Woods fumbled a pitch on their next possession to give the Highlanders the win.
“I’m proud of this team for how they fought and everything they did to win this game,” said The Woodlands Head Coach, Jim Rapp. “It’s great to have Malik Johnson back, we’re glad he’s healthy,” said Rapp. “He’s really been a boost for us offensively. He can line up in a lot of different spots and it really helps us.”
With the win, The Woodlands advances to the 6A-D1 Regional Semifinals to face Prosper HS, Saturday, November 30 at McLane Stadium in Waco.