McKinney High is still searching for its first district victory in 2013 after falling to Plano West 38-20 at Ron Poe Field Thursday night. It was the team’s fourth consecutive loss.
Despite a valiant effort, Plano West’s three-headed monster in the backfield – Sotonye Jamabo, Auston Anderson and Malik Rochelle – combined to rush for 401 yards, with Anderson leading the trio with 153 yards and two touchdowns.
McKinney’s last District 10-5A win came Oct. 18 2012, when they defeated Plano East 24-12. With Thursday’s loss, MHS fell to 0-3 in the district and 3-5 overall.
West (5-3, 1-2) accumulated 605 total yards Thursday night, gathering 412 on the ground and 177 through the air. West came limping in Ron Poe Stadium, losers of two straight, including a 77-37 loss to Allen last week.
Although West was able to run the ball seemingly at will during parts of the game, the Lions had a chance to take lead late in the game.
Trailing 25-20 with around five minutes to play, the Lions began to drive down the field. Sitting on their own 29-yard line, quarterback Brian Sutter connected with Tommy Candela, Austin Ludwig and Dalon Willis to get MHS within the West 10-yard line.
Deciding to go for it on fourth-and-goal on the 9-yard line, Sutter connected with Willis, who reversed fields and seemed to be heading toward the corner of the end zone.
Willis dove for the pylon, but fumbled the ball out of bounds at the 1-yard line.
McKinney head coach Jeff Smith said his squad did a great job moving the ball down the field late in the fourth quarter, but said his offense “just didn’t get it in.”
Smith said his offense’s ability to move the ball down the field was a positive, but West’s defense stiffened, stalling several drives within the red zone.
“The kids played all the way down the stretch,” Smith said.
Smith was also pleased with the effort of his defense, who despite giving up 25 points in the first half, played strong in the final 24 minutes, keeping MHS in the game to the end.
The Lions offense, while showing glimpses of promise, especially on the ground with Antonio Oliver and Candela, mustered 321 total yards Thursday.
Candela led the way on the ground, rushing for 109 yards on 15 carries. Sutter passed f0r 157 yards on 12 completions, with Willis being his favorite target, catching seven passes for 107 yards.
Tyree Johnson had an efficient night, scoring two touchdowns on the ground, accumulating five rushing yards.
And Willis had to be especially strong Thursday night with the absence of star receiver TV Williams, who injured his knee during last week’s game against Plano East.
Smith said Willis gave a very good effort, and will have to step up with Williams being injured.
Smith said Williams is day-to-day with the injury, which he originally worried was a torn ligament. Smith said he wouldn’t comment on when Williams will return to the field, but said “hopefully soon.”
Early on, the game was marred by penalties on both sides. The Lions tallied 45 penalty yards on the night, while West gathered 130 penalty yards on 18 flags.
Smith said he told his players to continue playing because the flags are going both ways, adding MHS can’t continue to make those mistakes because it is harder for them to overcome a 1st and 15 or 2nd and 15.
“It definitely hurt the flow of the game, and we got to cut that stuff out,” Smith said.
And the flow of the game early was controlled by West, coming out to an early 13-0 lead. McKinney would respond early in the second quarter as Johnson pounded the ball in from a yard out, shrinking West’s lead to 13-7.
West would regain momentum, scoring twice to take a 25-7 lead with less than five minutes to play in the first half.
With less than a minute left in the half, MHS dug deep into its bag of tricks, running a reverse with Willis connecting with Brian Cooper for a 20-yard touchdown pass, allowing MHS to go into halftime trailing 25-13.
The third quarter was a defensive battle, with both units keeping the offenses at bay and not allowing a point in the frame.
Despite McKinney’s early score to get within five points, West was able to score two touchdowns in the final six minutes to secure the win.
McKinney will try to snap its four-game losing streak when they will travel to take on Allen (7-0, 3-0) Nov. 1 at Eagle Stadium at 7:30 p.m.