Three minutes before halftime, Trey Smith celebrated his first-ever varsity touchdown run on an 11-yard carry. But the young sophomore running back didn’t stop there. Smith, who was limited to 27 yards rushing in McKinney North’s season opener, went on to score a total of three touchdowns in Thursday night’s 49-14 victory over Dallas Bryan Adams.
“He did great,” offensive lineman Sean Yoo said. “He’s only a sophomore and I think he can go really far.”
Senior running back Selwyn Smith also played well Thursday night and scored one touchdown on a four-yard run with 21 seconds remaining in the second quarter. What Trey and Selwyn lack in experience, they make up for with hard work and the non-district season is proving to be a great opportunity for them to shine in the absence of the injured three-year varsity star, Devin Smith.
“The more they play, the better they’re going to get,” head coach Mike Fecci said. “It was nice to see them hitting the holes fast and getting into the endzone tonight.”
“They’re getting better every day,” Yoo said of the Dawgs’ new backfield.
All four of McKinney North’s rushing touchdowns came from inside the redzone. Before the start of the season, Fecci complimented his offensive line saying that it was a strong group of veteran players and it showed against Bryan Adams.
“We communicate a lot,” Yoo said. “We’re hard workers and we get the job done.”
The Dawgs got off to a sluggish start on their first drive of the game and were forced to punt. Unfortunately, their second drive wasn’t much better as senior quarterback Hunter Walling’s pass intended for receiver Randy Moncier was picked off by Cougars defensive back Orlando Swift and returned 41 yards for a touchdown.
Heading into Thursday’s game, Fecci was glad that his team was playing a day early but he also feared that its season opener versus McKinney Boyd may have left his players emotionally drained.
“We didn’t play well early,” he said. “Sometimes, when you play an emotional game like we did, you’re worried about coming out flat and I think we did that.”
Following the interception return, the Dawgs looked deflated, but the momentum of the game would quickly swing back their way on the ensuing kickoff. McKinney North’s kick returners were put on the shelf last week thanks to the strong kicking leg of Boyd’s Cameron Decell. The Bulldogs expected big plays out of their return game versus Bryan Adams and that’s exactly what they got as junior defensive back Brylen Williams took the kickoff 88 yards to the house to tie the game. Williams, who played quarterback for North last year, admitted that it felt good to get back into the endzone for a touchdown.
“It was like old times,” he said. “I saw the crease and I hit it and I knew I was going to score.”
After another defensive stop, the Bulldogs scored the first offensive touchdown of the game on a beautiful pass from Walling that caught Evan Jones in stride for a 49-yard reception.
“Once we got going and started moving the football, we got on a roll and we needed to have that,” Fecci said.
The next 10 minutes of the game saw both offenses unable to put points on the scoreboard. Midway through the second quarter, Bryan Adams was finally able to put together an impressive drive down the field and a furious Fecci called his defense to sideline and gave his players an earful for their inability to wrap up. By that time, the Cougars were already in scoring position and they managed to finish the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run from senior quarterback Jalen Jordan. Bryan Adams kicker Eric Rodriguez’s extra point would be the last the North defense would surrender for the remainder of the game.
“After he yelled at us you didn’t see too many tackling errors after that,” Williams said. “We wrapped up and we were flying to the ball.”
McKinney North took a 35-14 lead into halftime but after the break the sluggish offense from the first two possessions of the game returned. Fortunately, Williams was able to add to his highlight reel yet again on a 42-yard punt return for a touchdown that put North back on the scoreboard.
“He’s a very special athlete,” Fecci said. “It’s nice to have a guy back there that can do that. Hopefully, he’ll be able to continue to do that for us because it’s a big momentum changer when you can score on special teams.”
Williams was one of several players who walked out of Ron Poe Stadium disappointed after North’s blowout loss to McKinney Boyd in week one. The 2011 season may have gotten off to a rough start for the Dawgs but they were all smiles after Thursday nights big win.
“It was a good win coming off of what happened last week,” Williams said. “But we can’t get complacent. We have to go out next week with the same mindset and play hard like we did tonight.”
McKinney North travels to Denton next week for its first road game of the season. The Broncos lost their season opener to Woodrow Wilson, 14-13 and play host to Carrollton R.L. Tuner Friday night.
-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com
*In case you missed Thursday night’s game or want to experience the Dawgs’ victory over Bryan Adams again, check out the bottom of the screen for full game video highlights*