McKinney High began its 10-5A schedule the same way it did in 2012 – with a loss to Plano Senior High. The Wildcats ran over the Lions Thursday night at Ron Poe Stadium to the tune of 333 rushing yards in their 28-7 victory over McKinney High School.
Plano set the pace of the game in the first half Thursday, riding the legs of sophomore running back Brandon Stephens, who rushed for 259 yards and 4 touchdowns on 26 carries.
McKinney head coach Jeff Smith said earlier in the week his defense had to set the tone, forcing Plano into long down-and-distance situations in an effort to take away the run game.
That, frankly, did not happen Thursday night, as Plano had big success on first and second downs, with 14 consecutive running plays to start the game. Plano ran their first pass play at the end of the first quarter.
Plano entered the game 4-1, winning four consecutive games, including a 17-3 victory over Flower Mound Marcus Oct. 3.
Smith said Plano was coming at his defense with schemes and plays they hadn’t seen Plano use, which forced the coaching staff to make adjustments during the game to try and stop Stephens and the Plano offense.
The Lions did respond, though, holding the Wildcats to seven points in the second half, and forcing a key stop on third down in the fourth quarter, leading to a missed field goal by Plano.
“We responded the right away,” Smith said.
Although the defense was able to right the ship, the offense, however, was a different story. The offense seemed to be stuck in neutral for most of the night, putting up 227 total yards of offense – 123 rushing and 103 passing.
Brian Sutter went 8-18 for 89 yards, and Tyree Johnson completed his only attempt of the game for 15 yards. Johnson scored the only Lion touchdown, also, a one-yard run in the third quarter.
Smith said his offense was not in sync in the first half, continuously missing passes, blocks and making poor decisions. “We’re in the right spots. We just got to finish,” he said.
The rushing game showed glimpses of breaking through, especially when Tommy Candela was used in the backfield. Candela ran for 47 yards on seven carries. But the running game had to be abandoned early due to Plano’s offensive surge in the first half, getting ahead of McKinney 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, and going into the half leading 21-0.
The Lions answered quickly coming out of the locker room, putting together a nine play, 75-yard drive, which was capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Johnson to bring McKinney within 14 at 21-7.
McKinney continued to battle, forcing a missed field goal to start the fourth quarter, giving their offense a chance to make it a one-score game.
The McKinney offense was able to move the ball into Plano territory, but a few penalties stalled the Lions’ drive, and facing 4th and 15, Sutter was sacked to end the drive.
Plano would add a score with less than four minutes to play to ice the game at 28-7.
Next week, McKinney will travel to Murphy Kimbrough Stadium to face Plano East, and despite the loss, Smith said there are a lot of positives his squad can take away from Thursday’s loss, including the way his defense adapted and adjusted mid-game. That, Smith said, “showed a great deal of maturity, and signs they’re growing as a team.”
“I’m pleased with how we finished. I’m not pleased with the result. The kids aren’t either,” Smith said.
McKinney (3-3, 0-1) will travel to take on Plano East (4-1) Oct. 18. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.