AUSTIN -- The Malakoff Tigers experienced a program-defining 2016 season, one that was ultimately cut short a step from the state's ultimate stage.

Yoakum forced three second-half Malakoff turnovers, and scored with 4:22 remaining to secure a 28-24 win Friday in their Class 3A Division I semifinal at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Malakoff, which had never advanced to the final four prior to this season, finished the year at 14-1.

“It’s been a great year, but it hurts to end it like this," said Malakoff coach Jamie Driskell. "We didn’t play our best game. But it’s been a great ride, and the kids don’t have anything to hang their heads about.”

Yoakum (11-4), which won its ninth consecutive game, advanced to the state title game for the first time in school history. The Bulldogs will face Mineola (13-2) for the 3A Division I crown at 8 p.m. Thursday from AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Malakoff struggled for most of the night on offense, but took a 24-21 lead with 7:29 remaining in the fourth on junior quarterback Judd Miller's 43-yard touchdown pass to Q.T. Barker.

But the Tigers couldn't stand up to Yoakum on the ensuing drive. The Bulldogs drove 62 yards in just six plays, using a 31-yard run by senior running back Henry Enoch to the Malakoff 22 that set up the eventual go-ahead score.

On third-and-goal from the 4, Yoakum inserted junior receiver Joshua Moore, one of the state's top recruits in the 2018 class, at quarterback. He rolled to his right and connected with Ethan Owens for the touchdown and a 28-24 lead with 4:22 to play.

“We’re a team that never gives up," Moore said. "We had a slow start, starting off 2-4 early in the season. Our coach told us, ‘it’s rough right now, but we’re not gonna end rough.’ We never stopped fighting, and now we’re going to the state championship.”

Miller was then intercepted downfield by junior defensive back and twin brother of Joshua, Jordan Moore, who returned the pick 37 yards to the Malakoff 34 with 3:29 remaining. Yoakum was able to consume the remainder of the clock.

It was a tough night for Miller, who completed just 7 of 21 attempts for 112 yards.

“They covered us well, their secondary was really good," Driskell said of Yoakum. "We’re used to getting open and getting our guys some space. We executed some, and we missed out on some execution.”

Barker finished with three receptions for 103 yards, and added 31 yards on three carries. He also had a second-half interception on defense. Junior running back Breashawn Williams led Malakoff with 106 yards and two touchdowns on 14 attempts, but lost two fumbles in the second half.

Malakoff senior receiver Tyler Russell, who was covered by Jordan Moore for most of the night, was limited to just two catches for minus-1 yard. He entered Friday's game with more than 1,100 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns.

“During practice we focused on (Barker and Russell) all week," Joshua Moore said. "We were focused on their top players and what they were gonna do.”

Enoch led Yoakum with 172 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, helping the Bulldogs pile up 269 yards on the ground. He accounted for 42 of the team's 62 yards on the game-winning drive.

“It’s a long game, and we didn’t tackle well, but they ran the ball well," Driskell said. "I think we wore down, but they had guys playing both ways, too. We just needed to make plays when it was time to make plays.”

Malakoff held a 17-14 lead at halftime, and thanks to a 45-yard gain on a screen pass to Barker, the Tigers moved quickly to the Yoakum 23 on their opening drive of the third quarter.

But the first of Williams' two fumbles, which was forced by Jordan Moore, was recovered by Yoakum's Tyler Williams at the 6.

Yoakum didn't capitalize on the Malakoff miscue, but it gained momentum late in the third quarter when Joshua Moore returned a punt 25 yards to the Malakoff 25, and Montreal Jones scored on a 11-yard run for a 21-17 Bulldogs lead just four seconds into the fourth.

Williams fumbled on Malakoff's ensuing drive, but the Tigers stopped Yoakum on downs and took over at their own 37. Miller ran for 19 yards to the Yoakum 39, and on third-and-14, lofted a perfect strike deep downfield to Barker for the score, which set the stage for Yoakum's game-winning drive.

The game could not have started any better for Malakoff, which took a 2-0 lead when a bad snap got away from the Yoakum punter in the end zone for a safety.

Barker returned the ensuing free kick 28 yards to the Yoakum 38, and Williams' 9-yard touchdown run five plays later gave Malakoff a 9-0 lead with 8:20 remaining in the first quarter.

Yoakum then marched 64 yards in 11 plays -- all on the ground, except for Bryson Hagan's 9-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Moore, which cut the deficit to 9-7 with 2:18 to play in the first.

Malakoff went three-and-out, and Yoakum took the lead, 14-9, with 9:04 remaining in the half after Enoch's 3-yard scoring run capped an eight-play, 67-yard drive.

Barker made another big play on special teams, returning the ensuing kickoff 26 yards to midfield. Following an intentional grounding call that a forced a second-and-23, Williams took a draw off left tackle and raced 27 yards to the end zone to regain the lead for Malakoff. His two-point conversion put the Tigers in front, 17-14, with 6:01 until halftime.


Yoakum 28, No. 3 Malakoff 24

Class 3A Division I State Semifinal
At Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin

Malakoff             9      8      0      7    --    24
Yoakum              7      7      0    14    --    28

First Quarter
MAL--Safety, 9:38.
MAL--Breashawn Williams 9 run (Everardo Garcia kick), 8:20.
YOA--Jordan Moore 9 pass from Bryson Hagan (Jose De Los Santos kick), 2:18.
Second Quarter
YOA--Henry Enoch 3 run (De Los Santos kick), 9:04.
MAL--Williams 27 run (Williams run), 6:01.
Fourth Quarter
YOA--Montreal Jones 11 run (De Los Santos kick), 11:56.
MAL--QT Barker 43 pass from Judd Miller (Garcia kick), 7:29.
YOA--Ethan Owens 4 pass from Joshua Moore (De Los Santos kick), 4:22.

                                         MAL                 YOA
First Downs                           15                    14
Total Yards                           308                  293
Rushes-Yards                 34-196            53-269
Passing Yards                      112                   24
Comp.-Att.-Int.                7-22-1              3-7-1
Punts-Avg.                       4-26.8            3-31.3
Fumbles-Lost                        2-2                 3-1
Penalties-Yards                    3-10              4-40

RUSHING--Malakoff, Breashawn Williams 14-106, Judd Miller 12-50, QT Barker 3-31, Jaquaylin Hart 4-8, ShaZarrion Bailey 1-1. Yoakum, Henry Enoch 27-172, Montreal Jones 4-70, Tyron Brooks 7-22, Ethan Owens 5-15, Jordan Moore 4-14, Joshua Moore 3-8, Team 3-(-32).
PASSING--Malakoff, Miller 7-21-1--122, Tyler Russell 0-1-0--0. Yoakum, Bryson Hagan 2-6-1--20, Joshua Moore 1-1-0--4.
RECEIVING--Malakoff, Barker 3-103, Russell 2-(-1), Williams 1-7, Hart 1-3. Yoakum, Owens 2-15, Jordan Moore 1-9.