CARROLLTON — Prosper football season is over after the Eagles fell 38-28 to Mansfield Lake Ridge in the Class 5A Division I Region II semifinals on Friday, Dec. 1 at Standridge Stadium.
Despite losing star running back Kaleb Adams to a sprained ankle late in the first quarter, Prosper (10-3) gave Lake Ridge (12-1) a valiant fight. It was the first loss for Prosper since a 14-7 game against The Colony on Oct. 27.
“It’s been my honor and my privilege to have the opportunity to work with you,” head coach Brandon Schmidt said to his team after the game. “Our football season ends tonight, but we’re a family forever.”
Prosper got off to a quick start, scoring a touchdown on its first possession. The next drive ended on a failed fake punt attempt on fourth down, but Prosper scored the next two times it had the ball. Both came on throws from quarterback Keegan Shoemaker to senior DJ Love.
The Prosper defense set up two scores in the second quarter thanks to an aggressive style. Prosper forced Lake Ridge back Cartraven Walker to fumble twice, the second coming on a fourth down play. Jevin Jackson found a way to strip the ball and Noah Ellis scooped it up for a 78-yard return. He was tacked just one yard away from the opposing end zone.
“Our defense was very opportunistic tonight,” Schmidt said. “They did a great job of keeping us in the game.”
The game took a turn at the end of the first half. Prosper had the ball with less than two minutes on the clock, but an interception thrown by Keegan Shoemaker on a screen pass set up Lake Ridge on Prosper’s 32-yard line. Cartraven Walker helped Lake Ridge drive the ball quickly, ending with a 22-yard touchdown run with 13 seconds remaining to cut the lead to seven heading into the break.
“It was a huge momentum swing,” Schmidt said. “Ultimately, we came out at halftime and still had a lead.”
Prosper did not relinquish its early lead until the middle of the third quarter. After leading by as many as 14 points in the second quarter, Lake Ridge was able to shut out the Prosper offense in the second half and score 24 unanswered points in route to the victory.
While Prosper’s offense struggled, Lake Ridge continued to run the ball with authority. As a team, Lake Ridge finished with 404 rushing yards. Walker led the effort with 250 yards on 23 carries while Dewone Jackson added 72 yards on 15 touches. Quarterback Jason Bean ran for 83 yards and threw for 146 and a touchdown.
“They broke too many tackles and had too many big, explosive plays,” Prosper junior defensive back Wayne Anderson said. “That made the difference in the game.”
Bean’s big mistake came on a fumbled snap late in the fourth quarter. That gave Prosper the ball with good field position, down 10 points with a chance to make a comeback. Prosper came extremely close to the end zone, but a fumble by Love at the five-yard line essentially ended the game.
Still, Prosper wouldn’t have been in that position without Love. He led the team with eight receptions for 86 yards, two touchdowns and 32 yards rushing. Once Adams went out, senior David Alvarez and Love had big shoes to fill.
“With all the things he can do running the ball and catching the ball in the screen game, (Love) a big part of it,” Prosper offensive coordinator Tyler Moore said. “We can’t be as diverse and successful as we are without a guy like him.”
While Lake Ridge moves on to face Highland Park in the regional finals, Prosper reflects on an overall successful season. It was the first time since 2012 that Prosper had won two playoff games.
“What’s important is not our destination and wins and losses, it’s what we become along the way,” Schmidt said. “They’ve come together as a family.”