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HOUSTON - In the opening two games of the season, Michael Wall feels like they had just two bad quarters, which eventually led to losses and an 0-2 start.
"We felt like we won six out of the eight [quarters] but it didn't matter, we lost the game and felt like we needed to clean up us," Wall said.
Since that 0-2 start, Wall admits that they are still not perfect but the improvements they have made has led to three-straight wins over Bellaire (50-27), fifth-ranked A&M Consolidated (24-17) and then capped non-district play with a 35-28 win over Klein Collins on Thursday night at Klein Memorial Stadium.
"Our guys came in with a real business-like atmosphere," Wall said. "They were really focused. Sometimes they get hyped but they came out and had a total team effort. Offense, defense, special teams pulled their weight tonight and it's awesome to get a win on the road again."
This Is ... VYPE All-Access presented by @Academy with @WillisWildkats1 🎥🔥🎥: @DRISKILLCAM #txhsfb (@WillisSchools @forrester_colby @davidsoriano25 @zach_rogers274 @TannerHayes11 @jadariusbrown7 @Willis_HS_TX @DerekLagway @KPRC2RandyMc @DrHarkrider @michaelwall1212) pic.twitter.com/FnH7Dn4FAN— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) September 24, 2021
From the start, once Willis (3-2) got the ball finally with just over three minutes in the first quarter following a clock-draining drive by Klein Collins which ended in a 17-yard touchdown run by Jeremiah Hasan-Hackney, it took one play for Derek Lagway to show his arm strength.
Lagway, who was upgraded to a four-star 2024 prospect this past week by 24/7 Sports, reached back and hit Tallas Harrison in stride for a 41-yard score to tie it up. Trailing 14-7 in the second quarter, Lagway then showed off his legs with a 45-yard touchdown run where he evaded multiple tackles as the pocket collapsed.
"For me personally throwing the ball [has improved]," Lagway who finished 9 of 15 for 160 yards and two touchdowns, said about his improvement since the season opener. "I could always run it. But not mixing it all together and knowing when to use both has helped me a lot."
Harrison showed off his skills on both sides of the ball on Thursday night.
After the 41-yard touchdown catch, Harrison reeled in a 19-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter on which he tip-toed the sideline for the last 10 yards of and then flipped to defense.
"Tallas is my guy," Lagway said. "We've been working all summer. That's what we worked for right there."
VYPE Postgame 🎙:@WillisWildkats1 two-way star @HarrisonTallas who had two receiving TDs and a pick six in the win talks with VYPE. ! #txhsfb (@WillisSchools @forrester_colby @davidsoriano25 @zach_rogers274 @TannerHayes11 @jadariusbrown7 @DerekLagway @KPRC2RandyMc @DrHarkrider pic.twitter.com/XjHmoTCZqu— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) September 24, 2021
With 11:36 left in the fourth quarter, Harrison picked off Klein Collins quarterback Tucker Parks and took it back 34 yards for the touchdown.
"It's hard work, you have to train for it," Harrison said. "A lot of running at practice. Work hard and it's really conditioning. Just stay in shape and do your job."
In a tight game, where teams were trading score for score. The defining moment came with 4:47 left in the game and Willis was facing a 4th and 2 from their own 43-yard line.
Wall opted to run his punt team out onto the field and it looked like Klein Collins was about to get it back down just a touchdown. But then Wall reached into his bag of tricks. The snap went to Da'onte Fleeks, who busted up the middle and was gone for a 57-yard touchdown on the fake punt, giving Willis a 35-21 lead and all the momentum.
"Felt really confident in it from the get-go," Wall said. "Just talking with Coach Knicky he felt good about it, so I said let's run it. We were running out of time there. So, the guys excited under pressure and a big play for [Da'onte] and that was the difference-maker."
With the win, Willis goes into the bye week on a three-game winning streak before locking horns with The Woodlands in two weeks for the opening of District 13-6A play.
VYPE Postgame 🎙: Caught up with QB1 @DerekLagway after the win. Had some big plays tonight. ! #txhsfb (@WillisSchools @forrester_colby @davidsoriano25 @zach_rogers274 @TannerHayes11 @jadariusbrown7 @Willis_HS_TX @KPRC2RandyMc @DrHarkrider @WillisHSBand @michaelwall1212) pic.twitter.com/ZDJSS2AdX5— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) September 24, 2021