Straight out of the chute, McKinney High School sent a message to its crosstown rival McKinney North: Don’t pay attention to that winless record we’ve brought into Friday night’s crosstown varsity football game.
In fact, the Lions raced to a huge first-quarter lead with three touchdowns and a field goal in the game’s first twelve minutes.
Ultimately, North cut into an 18-point deficit over the next three quarters. Despite still trailing at the end of the second and third quarters, the favored Bulldogs rallied for a 34-24 victory.
“We were pretty emotional at the beginning and some breaks didn’t go our way early,” McKinney North head football coach Mike Fecci said, “But we started to calm down.”
North outscored the Lions 28-0 in the final three quarters, to rally from an early 24-6 deficit and improve its overall record to 4-3 and its District 10-4A mark to 2-2. MHS fell to 0-7 overall and 0-4 in district play.
The opening quarter really set the tone for a competitive game — and probably stunned many of the Ron Poe Stadium crowd. MHS captured an early 7-0 lead with a 23-yard Robert Somborn bootleg touchdown pass to senior wide-out Quentin Casner.
In response, McKinney North capitalized on their seven-point deficit. A 63-yard kickoff return to the McKinney High 13-yard line resulted in a quick 8-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Hunter Walling to Marc Bresnahan. However, a missed extra point kept MHS ahead 7-6.
Following a next-possession McKinney High field goal by kicker Chuck Schober, North appeared to lose its composure. On the first play after the MHS kickoff, Lions sophomore defensive end Kennan Samuel forced a Walling fumble, giving MHS the ball at North’s 15.
From there, a TV Williams 15 yard touchdown pass to Connor Fuentes from the Wildcat formation put MHS ahead 17-6.
By the first quarter’s end, McKinney High had succeeded in scoring on their every possession, holding firm a 24-6 lead after Somborn hooked up with Casner again, this time on a 19-yard TD pass.
At that point, it seemed as if it was only McKinney High’s game to lose. But North had other ideas. The Bulldogs went on a rejuvenating, 6-minute touchdown drive in the second quarter, capped off by senior running back Devin Smith’s 5-yard run, and closed the scoreboard gap to a mere 12 points at 24-12.
MHS then failed to counter North production for the first time, suffering a turnover on downs on its next possession. And the battle was on. For the rest of the half, the scoreboard remained frozen at 24-12. And the overbearing momentum once held by McKinney High was no longer a factor.
Bulldogs senior running back Selwyn Smith jump-started the third quarter with an 80-yard touchdown, thinning the MHS point advantage to 24-19.
With 2:48 left to play in the quarter, MHS found the poise to conduct a 37-yard drive to North’s 12-yard line. But like everything else at this point, it didn’t work out well for the Lions either. On fourth and 10, the Lions sent out the special teams unit to attempt a 30-yard field goal. In a momentum-defining attempt, Schober shanked right of the goal post, missing his chance to put his team up eight points as the fourth quarter began.
North then set up shop from its own 12. Leading the way for the Dawgs, Walling brought much-needed spirit to the offense with an 18-yard quarterback keeper. The Dawgs continued to drive down the field, and from 43 yards out, Devin Smith was able to score his second touchdown of the night. To ensure a three-point lead over the Lions, the Dawgs opted for a two-point conversion. Finding success on a Walling run, McKinney North captured its first lead, 27-24.
Still in the game, MHS fumbled away its next chance. North senior linebacker Ed Garcia recovered a loose ball on the Lions’ following possession.
The McKinney High defense was then left with 30 yards to spare. A defensive halt was necessary for a Lion comeback. But on fourth and five, a costly defensive pass interference rewarded McKinney North with a first down. From there, Walling connected from 11 yards out to junior Evan Jones for a score. With 4:06 left in the rivalry matchup, McKinney North had successfully managed to deliver 28 unanswered points — and the game.
A McKinney High turnover on downs with 3:10 left to play allowed North to run out the clock. McKinney North had overcome an 18-point deficit, outscoring the Lions 28-0 from the second quarter on.
“We just calmed down, we stayed the course, we didn’t make a whole lot of adjustments scheme-wise, but we just calmed down and executed our plan better,” Fecci said. “Whatever comes in front of us, we just put our heads down and keep fighting through things. That’s just a quality of this football team and I’m glad to be apart of it.”
“This win means everything for our team,” Fecci said. “It puts us right back into the playoff race—we’re now sitting at 2-2 [in district play] and we’re right back in the hunt. We’ve got three big ballgames in front of us and we’re going to have to go take one at a time and see if we can get into the playoffs.”
Selwyn Smith ran for 133 yards and Devin Smith 113 yards to lead North’s punishing ground game. Walling passed for 134 yards.
Somborn’s 227 passing yards led the Lions’ attack.
McKinney North will take on Highland Park next Friday, Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m., at Highlander Stadium, in an attempt to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Lions look for their first win of the season next week against JJ Pearce High school, on Friday, Oct. 21, at 7:30 p.m., at Ron Poe Stadium.
Story by Quinn Murray, a senior at MHS and TSB contributing writer.
For more photos from the Crosstown Showdown, check out the TSB Glam Cam