Top 5 games of 2013: No. 2 — Argyle vs. Fairfield, football

Ian Sadler and the Argyle Eagles vaulted over Fairfield in the Class 3A Division II football state championship game, one of the best games of 2013. (David Minton/Denton Record-Chronicle)

During the final three days of the University Interscholastic League state football championships, 221,339 people watched the state’s best football games at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium.

But the 22,071 in attendance for the Class 3A Division II state championship saw Argyle and Fairfield put on the weekend’s most thrilling game.

Argyle finally added the state’s most cherished trophy to its showcase in one of the best games of 2013.

Dec. 20, 2013
Argyle 38, Fairfield 33

After the first quarter, the 3A DII title game didn’t resemble a matchup of two undefeated teams playing for its first state championship.

It looked like it’d be another easy win for Argyle after it seemingly overwhelmed Fairfield and jumped out to a 17-3 lead. I made the mistake of essentially stating on Twitter that the state championship game was really between Argyle and Gilmer (and most people thought the same thing).

And then Fairfield showed everybody why it’s been so good all season and why Larry Rose is one of the state’s best running backs.

Fairfield countered with 21 straight points, including a 39-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-23 from Jacob Gallegos to Alex Ward on the final play of the first half. That score made up for the previous play, when a halfback pass was a touchdown but called back because of a penalty.

I was quickly reminded of that Argyle-Gilmer tweet.

This game turned into a matchup between Larry Rose and Ian Sadler, and it was interesting considering what happened earlier in the week.

The talk of the week was the voting of the Associated Press all-state team. Sadler, who has orally committed to Texas Tech, was a second-team selection and many people thought he was deserving of at least a first-team nod. Rose was selected as 3A’s offensive player of the year.

Sadler scored on a 4-yard run in the third quarter, and after an Argyle defensive stop, he showed why he’s one of the most explosive scorers in the state. Sadler ripped off a 65-yard punt return touchdown to put Argyle ahead, but Rose wasn’t finished.

Rose beat Argyle’s defense and scored on a 54-yard touchdown run with 11:01 left in the game, and Fairfield led Argyle 33-31.

But Sadler and Argyle weren’t going to be denied a state championship. Not this time.

Sadler scored on a 3-yard touchdown run, and Argyle was ahead with 6:54 left in the game.

Rose still had a final, gashing run left in the tank. It was Rose’s longest run, but he was out of gas before he reached the goal line. Argyle’s Colten Katzen caught up with the Fairfield tailback and Rose was forced out of bounds after a 64-yard run. Argyle stuffed Rose on the ensuing third and fourth down, and Argyle held on for the thrilling state championship victory.

Sadler finished with 19 carries for 109 yards and three touchdowns, four catches for 73 yards and the 65-yard punt return for a touchdown. Rose carried the ball 26 times for 260 yards and two touchdowns.

Fairfield had many players playing both ways, including Rose, and Argyle’s plan of wearing down Fairfield paid off in the end.

At the postgame press conference, Fairfield head coach John Bachtel, Rose, and a couple others were smiling as they faced the media, something that’s hardly seen. They enjoyed the game and the season for what it was.

As Bachtel found his seat beside his players at the middle of the table, he said, “I’ll sit with you guys any time.”

Previously:

No. 3 Guyer vs. Highland Park, football

No. 4Argyle vs. Decatur, volleyball

No. 5Guyer vs. Denton, boys basketball

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