McKinney North Clinches Playoff Spot in Overtime Thriller

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Players and coaches fled onto the field at Ron Poe Stadium.

Orange McKinney North helmets shot into the sky, and on the ground were McKinney North players left to lie in shock, disbelief and exhaustion.

And running across the field was McKinney North head coach Mike Fecci, hands clutching his head in disbelief.

“We did it baby!” Fecci yelled while running across the field.

What McKinney North did was clinch a postseason berth with a 42-39 overtime victory over Wylie East Friday, capped by a 30-yard field goal by Raul Delarosa.

“He went out and nailed it,” Fecci said of Delarosa’s game-winning kick.

Delarosa said following the game that his mind was racing walking onto the field, knowing he needed to do what he does every week and focus on getting his team to the postseason.

“I couldn’t miss it. Not for my team,” Delarosa said.

And not only did Delarosa deliver once, he helped force overtime, kicking a season-long 44-yard field goal to tie the game at 39 as time expired in regulation.

Delarosa – who’s made 83 percent of his field goals coming into Friday’s game – hadn’t made a field goal longer than 38 yards all season.

Before the game-tying field goal, a member of the McKinney North band fell to one knee, and looked up to the heavens, praying.

Despite a rocking Ron Poe Stadium, with both Wylie East and North fans on the edge of their seats, Fecci said he felt an odd sensation come across him as the game-winning kick was sent toward the uprights.

Fecci said a calm sense of assurance rush through his body, giving him the feeling, “everything was going to work for you.”

“You don’t get those moments much in life,” Fecci said.

Rewind the game five minutes, however, and the situation did not look promising for North, as Wylie East was driving down the field, looking for the go-ahead score.

Trailing the Bulldogs 36-32, the Titans marched down the field, continually capturing first downs, with senior quarterback Garrett McCain eluding defenders. He converted a 4th and 1 on the 20-yard line with just seconds remaining.

Wylie East would make North pay seconds later, cashing in from one-yard out to take a 39-36 lead.

It seemed as if the air was let out of Ron Poe Stadium.

North, however, took the field – and the drama was set to ensue.

The Bulldogs took the ball on the 47-yard line, and one play – a 13-yard run by senior quarterback Ben Dutze – set up the game-tying 44-yard kick.

As the offense was driving down the field, Fecci said he and offensive coordinator Kyle Hardin had a conversation on how to attack the final play.

“Coach Hardin came over and said, ‘I’ve got one to go win it, or we could go tie it,’ and I said, ‘Let’s put it on Raul.’” Fecci said.

The gamble paid off, as Delarosa nailed the tying field goal.

The overtime period was short-lived, as North’s Nick Hutchins intercepted McCain’s pass, setting up the winning field goal.

“It’s not any secret thing; it’s belief,” Fecci said.

As tight and dramatic as the end of the game was, North (5-4 overall, 4-2 in District 13-4A) came out firing on all cylinders, riding Ronald Jones to a 21-6 lead.

Jones scored the first two touchdowns for the Bulldogs in the first quarter – a 70-yard run and an 85-yard run. Jones ended the game with 237 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries.

Wylie East (5-4, 4-2) battled back, scoring 26 unanswered points to take a 32-21 lead in the fourth quarter.

North would add another Jones score and the 44-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.

“They’re gutsy, gutsy kids…they believed. They just believed,” Fecci said, holding back his emotions following the game.

North accumulated 542 total yards Friday, with Dutze throwing for 165 yards on nine completions. Running back Tre Smith completed his only pass – a 63-yard completion in the fourth quarter.

North will next travel to Denison to end the regular season with a playoff spot intact, but  the Bulldogs still have a lot to pay for – a share of the 13-4A District title.

Fecci said North can finish as high as the No. 2 seed in 13-4A, even with a loss next to week to Denison.

“It’ll be fun,” Fecci said.

North and Denison is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. at Denison Munson Stadium.

Photos by Kellie Anfosso