PROSPER — Now things get interesting for Argyle.
Junior Nick Ralston set a school record for most yards rushing in a game with 365 yards on 28 carries and a school record for most touchdowns in a game with five to lead No. 1 Argyle to a 55-27 victory over Melissa in the Class 3A Division II area round Friday at B.W. Durham Stadium.
The win sends the Eagles (12-0) to the Region II semifinals and a highly anticipated matchup against No. 4 Gilmer (10-1), the team that knocked the Eagles out of the playoffs last year in the regional semifinals. The game is tentatively set for Friday at Kincaide Stadium in Dallas.
The two programs have met in each of the last three seasons, with Argyle winning twice before last season, when Gilmer easily handled the Eagles 42-21, ending Argyle’s 11-game winning streak. Both programs are hungry for a state title, as Argyle was the runner-up in 2011, losing to Wimberley, while Gilmer lost to Navasota in last year’s final.
Both teams won their area games impressively. Gilmer handled Pittsburg 48-0 on Thursday, and the Eagles took care of business against Melissa, a team they have knocked out of the playoffs two years in a row.
Ralston’s total yardage was more than Melissa gained as a team (352 yards), and the Eagles set a school rushing record with 570 yards.
Argyle’s Ian Sadler rushed for 125 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries, Hunter Treadwell returned a punt 75 yards for a score, and Cole Hedlund kicked two field goals to raise his national-record career total to 53.
The Eagles completed only one pass on six attempts, but they didn’t need to pass with a dominating running game and another outstanding performance on defense. Melissa was held to one score early in the game, and its three touchdowns in the fourth quarter were against Argyle’s No. 2 defense.
With temperatures in the mid-30s and wind chills in the 20s, the Eagles used their running game and defense in the first half to open a 27-7 lead on two Ralston touchdowns, a Sadler touchdown and two Hedlund field goals.
By intermission, Ralston had rushed for 196 yards and Sadler 125. Ralston finished the game averaging 13 yards per carry; Sadler averaged 10.5 yards.
The Cardinals (9-3) have been in the playoffs five straight years. This season’s senior class won two district titles and the Class 2A Division I championship in 2011.
Argyle appeared as if it might be in trouble on the opening kickoff. Melissa’s C.J. Tyler sent a pooch kick down the sideline, and it took a Melissa bounce. Treadwell picked up the ball and was tackled at the 1. Argyle responded with a 16-play, 90-yard drive — all on the ground — for a 26-yard field goal.
Melissa came right back, driving to the Argyle 23, before two penalties pushed the Cardinals back and they turned the ball over on downs. The Eagles needed just two plays to strike, as Ralston broke a 67-yard run and followed that with a 3-yard scoring run for a 10-0 lead with 3:02 left in the first quarter.
The Cardinals then mounted their only scoring drive of the half, going 69 yards in six plays. After a pass interference penalty against Argyle, Ellis broke a 46-yard run to the Argyle 3 and scored on the next play to make it 10-7.
Argyle then forced three straight three-and-out possessions and scored after all three punts. Ralston’s 29-yard scoring run, following a 36-yard gain by Sadler, midway through the second quarter put Argyle up 17-7. Sadler scored on the next possession on an 11-yard scamper, and Hedlund kicked a 31-yard field goal for a 27-7 lead late in the half.
Melissa went three-and-out to open the second half, and Ralston sparked a 28-point third quarter with a 5-yard scoring run on Argyle’s first possession.
Melissa again went three-and-out, and Treadwell returned the punt 75 yards for a touchdown. Ralston added scoring runs of 22 and 25 yards before the quarter ended, and Argyle was up 55-7.
Tyler West threw touchdown passes of 24 and 7 yards to Jackson Webb, and Byron Beard added a 7-yard scoring run for the Cardinals after they recovered an Argyle fumble. Marcus Ellis, who rushed for more than 1,200 yards this season, finished with 126 yards on 14 carries.
Argyle 55, Melissa 27
AY — Cole Hedlund 26 FG
AY — Nick Ralston 3 run (Cole Hedlund kick)
MS — Marcus Ellis 1 run (Cade Cruce kick)
AY — Nick Ralston 29 run (Cole Hedlund kick)
AY — Ian Sadler 11 run (Cole Hedlund kick)
AY — Cole Hedlund 31 FG
AY — Nick Ralston 5 run (Cole Hedlund kick)
AY — Hunter Treadwell 75 punt return (Cole Hedlund kick)
AY — Nick Ralston 22 run (Cole Hedlund kick)
AY — Nick Ralston 25 run (Cole Hedlund kick)
MS — Jackson Webb 24 pass from Tyler West (Cade Cruce kick)
MS — Jackson Webb 7 pass from Tyler West (Cade Cruce kick)
MS — Byron Beard 7 run (kick failed)
Rushing — AY: Nick Ralston 28-365, Ian Sadler 12-125, Brayden Helliker 7-44, Chance Bode 4-25, Hunter Treadwell 1-8, Connor Wilson 1-8, Jon Pucciarello 2-4, Brandon Boyzuick 3-0, Chase Green 1--2, MS: Marcus Ellis 14-126, Taylor McGehee 9-66, Byron Beard 3-33, Tyler West 7-32, Cade Cruce 3-15, Cameron Hunter 3-11, CJ Tyler 1--3.
Passing — AY: Ian Sadler 0-1-0-0, Brandon Boyzuick 0-2-0-0, Nick Ralston 0-1-0-0, Cooper Rodgers 1-2-0--5, MS: Tyler West 2-8-0-31, Taylor McGehee 1-11-0-27, J.C. Cottrell 1-1-0-14.
Receiving — AY: Alex Pound 1--5, MS: Jackson Webb 3-58, Taylor McGehee 1-14.