By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
Turnovers and penalties will kill a team’s chances to win a football game, especially against the No. 7 team in the state of Texas.
On a surprisingly warm November night, the Allen Eagles returned to Ron Poe Stadium for a second consecutive week in hopes of sweeping the two MISD schools in District 10-5A. After taking care of Boyd a week ago, the Eagles thumped the McKinney Lions 67-14 to wrap up the District 10-5A championship and improve to 4-0 in district and 8-1 overall. MHS dropped to 1-3 in district and 5-4 overall with the loss.
The Eagles scored 28 points in the second quarter, including two touchdowns in two consecutive offensive plays, to pull away from the Lions and lead at the half 43-14. After 24 minutes of football, Allen had racked up 468 offensive yards, including 305 rushing yards on just 26 carries.
Allen ended up with 674 total yards on offense, including 450 rushing yards on 56 carries. Running back Marcus Ward led the rushing attack for the Eagles, running for 156 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns. Jaelen Barlow, Oliver Pierce, and backup quarterback Ryan Hoogerwerf all had one rushing touchdown on the night.
Eagles quarterback Kyler Murray had another solid night throwing and running the ball. The sophomore duel threat threw for 224 yards on 12-of-16 passing with two touchdowns and an interception to Lions corner Jumaane Ross-Brown. Murray also ran for 93 yards on eight carries and two touchdowns. Cole Carter and Cameron Calcote each had one receiving touchdown in the game.
After the game, McKinney head coach Jeff Smith acknowledged that while his players were ready for the challenge, they just shot themselves in the foot one too many times against a really good football team.
“Our kids were excited about this,” said Smith. “We liked the opportunity to play Allen. They are a great program and we have a lot of respect for them. Our kids were ready to play tonight, but we kind of shot ourselves in the foot a few times early. We were down in their zone a few times and we didn’t capitalize. That was hard on us and we could have used those points to give us some momentum. We just weren’t able to do it. But I am proud of the way they battled and fought tonight.”
While the score doesn’t quite show it, McKinney did have several opportunities to make it a ballgame early on. After picking up two first downs in the opening series of the game on offense, the Lions were at the Allen 37-yard line when running back Tommy Candela fumbled the handoff from quarterback Robert Somborn. The Lions lost the ball, and five plays later Murray scampered in the end zone 19 yards for a score to put the Eagles up 8-0 after a two-point conversion attempt was successful.
The pivotal moment in the game was the very first play of the second quarter. Down 15-0, McKinney was driving down the field and at the Allen 4-yard line after starting the drive at its own 16. On second and goal, the snap from the Lions center sailed over the head of Somborn and rolled all the way to the Allen 20-yard line, where the Eagles picked up the ball for the recovery.
“Well that’s huge,” said Smith. “We talked before the game and said that we can’t turn the ball over against these guys, because Allen does a great job of capitalizing on turnovers and they have done that all season long. We told our guys to take care of the ball and we preached it pretty hard, but we didn’t. You just can’t do that against a team like Allen.”
The Lions did have some positives in the game on offense, as all 14 of their points were scored in the second quarter. After giving up a Ward 30-yard touchdown run to put them down 22-0, the Lions responded on the first play of the drive with a 58-yard strike from Somborn to T.V. Williams for a touchdown to make it 22-7.
Two offensive drives later, Somborn found Connor Fuentes in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown to make it 36-14 Allen. Somborn finished with 252 yards on 16-of-31 passing with two touchdowns and one interception. Fuentes had a game-high 128 yards on seven receptions and the one touchdown. Williams finished with 91 yards on three receptions and the score, while Tommy Candela led the Lions in rushing with 92 yards on 11 carries.
The loss did not eliminate the Lions from postseason contention, but made the road to the postseason much more difficult. In the only crosstown game of the season, McKinney will be the road team next week, as Boyd will “host” the Lions at Ron Poe Stadium. After the Broncos lost to Plano East 22-20, this crosstown game will be a play-in game for both teams, and for a program fresh off of an 0-10 season and in its first year in 5A, Smith is proud of the fact that the word playoffs is being mentioned around his program heading into Week 10.
“That’s big,” said Smith. “Not too many people picked us to have a chance at any playoff implications this year, but I am proud of the spot we are at. Obviously we would have liked to win more games up to this point in district play, but the fact we are talking about playoffs in McKinney is exciting. Our kids are ready to pick themselves up, get healthy, and get ready to play next week.”
MHS-Boyd will be played next Friday night at Ron Poe Stadium. The Broncos will be the home team in the contest. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
For more photos from the MHS – Allen game, click here.