Marshall has been one of the most dominant high school football programs in the region over the last two seasons as skilled playmakers like Malik Hornsby and Devon Achane have brought crowds to their feet with electrifying exploits.
Unfortunately for the Buffalos and their star players, the one thing that has eluded them remained out of reach, with a familiar foe vanquishing their attack. Marshall lost to Aledo in a 45-42 slugfest Saturday in the Class 5A Division II state championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
It was the second straight title-game defeat for Marshall at the hands of Aledo as they played a back-and-forth game that featured more than 1,000 yards of total offense.
After trailing 28-20 at halftime and 45-27 with less than 5 minutes to go, the Buffalos’ late rally fell short. Fourth-quarter touchdowns from Achane and Hornsby’s late scoring toss to Brandon Tryon gave Marshall a chance for an onside kick with 49 seconds left, but the Bearcats recovered to secure their ninth football state championship while denying Marshall its long-awaited first.
Hornsby rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another in the loss, while Achane added his 115th and 116th career touchdowns as both played their final games in the Marshall black and gold. Tryon also accounted for two touchdowns.
Consecutive punts on Marshall’s first two drives saw Aledo jump out to a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter as the Bearcats ate up chunks of yardage on the Buffalos’ typically stout defense.
However, Marshall’s playmakers began to flex their muscles soon after.
Late in the first quarter, Hornbsy scrambled to his left before finding Achane for a huge gain to put the Buffalos inside the red zone. A few plays later, Hornsby took it up the gut from 10 yards out to cut the deficit to 14-7.
On Aledo’s next drive, Florida signee Avery Helm broke up a third-down pass to give the ball back to Marshall. Tryon took it around the edge on a fourth-and-4 situation for his third rushing touchdown of the season. A missed PAT left the deficit at 14-13.
After surrendering a 34-yard touchdown, the Buffalos answered right back.
On a fourth-and-9 inside the red zone, Hornsby found a double-covered Achane for a first down at the Aledo 4-yard line.
A few plays later, Hornsby snuck it in from 1 yard out to cut the deficit to 21-20 with 1:33 left in the half before the Bearcats added a touchdown late in the second quarter.
Marshall finished the season with a 14-2 overall record.