McKinney North now faces an early must-win football game next week at Royse City after losing to Sherman 55-44 in an emotional contest at Ron Poe Stadium Thursday night to open its District 13-4A schedule.
North head coach Mike Fecci, who was visibly emotional following the loss, said the Bulldogs need to get better defensively and are not making the plays that need to be made.
“We are right now bad defensively… let’s not sugarcoat it. We’re bad,” Fecci said.
North gave up 443 yards Thursday night, including 270 rushing yards, most of which was accumulated by Bearcats senior running back Tre Mask, who rushed for 248 yards and scored seven touchdowns on 27 carries.
“If we give up 55, we’ve got to score 56…that’s just how this thing works,” Fecci said.
Sherman, now 2-2, came into the game with consecutive losses after its season-opening 31-14 victory over Little Elm Aug. 30. The Bearcats have surrendered 83 points in their two losses, including a 49-7 loss to Highland Park Sep. 13.
Fecci said Sherman, no matter what their record was coming into the game, is a strong football club and a favorite to make it to postseason play in 4A.
And early on the Bearcats showed that promise.
Mask, and the rest of the Sherman squad, ran and threw all over North’s defense. The Bearcats especially rode Mask early in the game, as he rushed for 165 yards on 10 carries to give his team an early 21-0 lead.
North would battle back, though.
Down 24-7 – North senior quarterback Ben Dutze had connected with senior receiver Tre Sanders for an 89-yard touchdown – the tide began to turn toward North when junior cornerback Nick Hutchins picked off Sherman’s Case Rolen, returning the interception 21 yards to shrink Sherman’s lead to 24-13.
Fecci said Hutchins had a strong game defensively. His interceptions are plays that can swing the momentum, and “we’ve got to do more of that,” Fecci said.
Six minutes later, Dutze would take matters into his own hands, running the ball in from three yards out to cut Sherman’s lead to 24-21. Sherman, however, would respond, when Mask scored his fourth touchdown of the half to bring the score to 31-21.
North added a 38-yard field goal to bring North within a touchdown heading half.
The first half Friday night was a wild 24 minutes, as the teams combined to score 55 points and accumulate 480 yards of total offense.
The second half began the same way the first did, with Mask slicing through the North defense, giving Sherman a 38-24 lead less than three minutes into the half.
North wouldn’t falter, and would answer with a rushing touchdown of their own when junior running back Ronald Jones scampered 53 yards to bring the game to 38-31. Jones rushed for 116 yards and two scores on 17 carries.
Just 20 seconds later North would tie the game when Hutchins returned his second interception back for a touchdown, tying the game at 38-38.
Despite the ability of both North and Sherman to put up huge numbers, it was the little details that played a huge role.
Down 45-38 following another Mask touchdown, Jones pounded the ball in from two yards, setting up what seemed to be the game-tying point-after-touchdown.
Those plans were foiled when Sherman blocked the kick and North’s chances to tie the game.
Fecci said practicing the PAT is something his team’s practices every day, and at times 80-to-90 times a day.
And while it’s never an issue, “it’s one of the things you can never take for granted.”
Sherman capitalized on North’s miscue, kicking a 25-yard field goal and added a touchdown to seal the 55-44 victory.
Fecci said despite the loss, his kids are making positive plays, but the areas they are weak are being exploited and hurting them the most.
“I’m painting the real picture for my kids,” Fecci said. ”And that is that we do a lot of things real well, but it’s the things we don’t do well that are getting us right now, and we’ve got to rededicate ourselves to go back out (Friday) morning, and that starts with me and goes to the end of the line. We’ve got to rededicate ourselves to find out solutions to these problems.”
Now facing a 1-3 hole, 0-1 now in district play, Fecci said his squad’s goal next week at Royse City is simple – win.
“We’ve got to win…We have to,” he said.
North will make the trip to Royse City next week with kickoff scheduled at 7:30 p.m.
Photos by TSB’s Sawyer Erickson