Before the 2011 season even got underway, Boyd head coach Don Drake spoke to his team about the importance of maintaining offensive drives by holding onto the football and eliminating turnovers. Against North, the Broncos threw an early interception and turned the ball over on a fumble in the third quarter. Still, they managed to win the game thanks in part to two Bulldogs’ fumbles that turned into touchdowns. Boyd didn’t play a perfect game in week one, but the Broncos made fewer mistakes than McKinney North and that proved to be the difference maker on the scoreboard.
“Earlier in the year, the team’s that are successful are the ones that make the fewest mistakes,” Drake said. “Everybody’s going to make mistakes but we need to make less.”
The Broncos’ coaching staff wanted to see improvements against visiting Flower Mound Friday night but it looked like the team took a giant step backward instead. Boyd knew that it would be facing one of the best scoring offenses in 5A and with the Broncos offense unable to hold onto the football, it opened the door for far too many Flower Mound possessions that eventually wore down Boyd’s defense.
“We put them in some bad positions tonight,” Drake said. “I knew going in that we were going to have to maintain possession of the football and we did not do that.”
Sophomore Curtis Ladd started at quarterback for Boyd and completed nine passes for 147 yards and one touchdown. He also carried the ball 18 times for 120 yards and scored on a six-yard run.
“I thought he did some good things tonight,” Drake said. “He provided a nice little spark for us in the first half, running the football.”
That was the good news.
The bad news is that Ladd’s first varsity start also included three very costly interceptions. As a team, the Broncos fumbled the ball five times and four of those times resulted in a change of possession. Boyd executed a three-quarterback game plan against North but this week, Drake decided to start Ladd and keep him in the game for all four quarters despite his turnovers.
“We felt that continuing with him was the right thing to do at that point in time,” Drake said. “He’s still learning and I thought he did some really good things for us.”
Boyd had just seven first downs in the first half of the game compared to 23 first downs for Flower Mound. But the first half statistic that bothered Drake the most was that the Jaguars took over 60 offensive snaps.
“That’s a whole game’s worth of snaps,” he said. “You can’t possibly put your defense out there as much as we did and expect them to keep making plays.”
The Jaguars also had their fair share of turnovers, including three lost fumbles and an interception from quarterback Marshall Williams. Although, if you’re Flower Mound, you can live with one pick if it’s accompanied by 31-of-50 passing for 437 yards and four touchdowns.
All the hype surrounding the Jags’ offense was focused on the passing game but running back Connor Ashley proved to McKinney Boyd and all future opponents that Flower Mound can dominate on the ground just as easily. The third-year varsity back carried the ball 25 times against the Broncos’ defense and totaled 200 yards and two touchdowns. A good chunk of Ashley’s total rushing yards came on a 69-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that saw him escape half of the Boyd defense on his way to the north endzone of Ron Poe Stadium.
Earlier in the week, Drake talked about last year’s loss at Flower Mound and said that his team walked away from that game regretting all the scoring opportunities that they failed to capitalize on. Friday’s rematch against the Jags must have felt like déjà vu for the Broncos because they had plenty of chances to score and every time they came close, they either shot themselves in the foot or just couldn’t finish the play. One missed opportunity that was noticeably deflating took place on a long pass to the endzone that caught running back Bryan Driskell in stride. The Broncos’ dependable playmaker somehow managed to let the ball slip through his fingers and hit the turf and the look on his face showed his frustration.
“Offensively, we couldn’t ever get in a rhythm,” Drake said. “Every time we did some positive things we followed it up with some real negative things. You can’t make mistakes and expect to win against a really good football team.”
Overall, Driskell had an average night running the football. After his spectacular five-touchdown performance in week one, the junior followed up with a solid 73 yards rushing night and two touchdowns. He also scored Boyd’s first touchdown of the night on an incredible 96-yard kickoff return midway through the first quarter.
With less than five minutes remaining in regulation, Flower Mound not only held a 44-36 lead but also had possession of the football. The Jags could have easily found a way to kill the clock and put the game away. Boyd’s defense, however, had other plans and forced a three-and-out followed by a punt. There was enough time on the clock for the Broncos to march down the length of the field but unfortunately they didn’t get very far. In an attempt to scramble around the defense, Ladd ran into a pile of Flower Mound defenders and had the football knocked out of his hands and recovered by the defense. Surely, the turnover was the end for McKinney Boyd but once again the Broncos defense refused to quit. Up to that point, Williams had a stellar, seemingly flawless performance until he was picked off by junior Chris Stanton. The Broncos offense would once fail to capitalize and Boyd never even crossed over into Jags’ territory.
In the team huddle following the game, Drake complimented his defense for giving the Broncos’ offense two opportunities in the final five minutes to mount a game-tying drive. Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t make a first down much less an 80-yard scoring drive in the clutch. Still, Drake was happy that his defense found ways to put the ball back in the hands of Ladd and the offense.
“The defense kept fighting and fighting,” Drake said. “We just didn’t do a very good job on the offensive side. I told them to keep playing with that same kind of intensity and we’ll get our [offensive] issues fixed and we’ll move forward.”
McKinney Boyd returns to Ron Poe Stadium next Friday for a crosstown clash with rival McKinney High. The Lions are 0-2 to start the year but are not a team that the Broncos want to underestimate. Boyd is in desperate need of a rebound game before the start of district play and Drake sees the MHS game as that perfect chance to get back on track.
“Any time you come off a loss, you’ve got to learn from it, fix your mistakes, and take care of business,” Drake said. “I’ve said many times that it’s about getting better every week.”
-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com