By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
PLANO — It wasn’t a good night for Boyd athletics. It was an even worse night for two of Boyd’s star athletes and their left knees.
Less than two hours after Megan Mollett suffered a severe left knee injury Friday evening in the UIL volleyball state semifinal match in Garland, Broncos running back Bryan Driskell suffered a left knee injury of his own in the first round of the football playoffs, but was able to play the remainder of the game in a limited role.
The Broncos were defeated by Jesuit 45-10 in the bi-district round game at Plano’s Clark Field on Friday night. Boyd finished the season with a 6-5 record, while Jesuit improved to 9-2.
With Boyd down 14-10 to Jesuit with less than three minutes remaining in the first half, the Broncos all-state running back received the handoff and ran for two yards up the left side of the field. On the tackle, a Jesuit defender appeared to catch Driskell’s knee and fall on it awkwardly, as he walked back into the huddle very gingerly.
On the very next play, Driskell got the handoff, took a couple steps, and went down to the ground quickly in obvious pain. He was down for several minutes as coaches and trainers attended to him, but he was able to walk off the field under his own power. He would go into the locker room before halftime began.
“He’s obviously a big emotional lift for us, so when he is not on the field it hurts us,” said Boyd head coach Don Drake.
Driskell began the night on a tear, taking the first play of the Broncos second offensive possession and running 94 yards along the right sideline for a touchdown. The score put Boyd up 7-0, while the scoring play was the longest touchdown run in school history, surpassing the 88-yard run Driskell had two years ago.
He finished the first quarter with 118 rushing yards on six carries, but combining the knee injury and a strong Jesuit defensive front seven, Driskell finished with just five carries for minus-one yard in the second quarter.
He would finish the game with 119 rushing yards on 13 carries in a very limited role, including a lost fumble on his first carry on the second half. In fact, that was just one of four consecutive Bronco possessions to start the second half that ended in a turnover. The Broncos finished with five turnovers in the game.
“Obviously in the second half you can’t turn the ball over on four consecutive possessions and expect to come back and win a football game,” said Drake. “Turnovers in the second half were critical.”
Down 21-10 at halftime, Boyd would open up the second half with the ball and a chance to cut into the Rangers lead. After recovering his own fumble on the first play of the drive, quarterback Curtis Ladd completed a pass to his brother Patrick for a 10-yard gain, before Patrick was stripped by a Ranger defender and the ball was recovered by Jesuit at the Boyd 18-yard line.
Jesuit would score on its ensuing offensive possession, as running back Will Brown ran up the middle for three yards to score a touchdown and put the Rangers up 28-10.
On the next possession, the Broncos would find themselves in a third-and-25 at their own 20-yard line when Curtis’s pass intended for Driskell was intercepted and returned to the 19-yard line. Jesuit would kick a field goal after failing to convert a first down inside the red zone and extend its lead to 31-10.
After picking up a first down with seven minutes left in the third quarter, which was the first of the half, Driskell would fumble his first carry of the second half after losing three yards on the run. On the ensuing offensive possession for Jesuit, the Rangers converted a 3rd and 27 with a 31-yard draw run by Brown, and would score a touchdown on a one-yard run by Pierce Durham on the 11th play of the possession to make it 38-10.
The final turnover of the night for the Broncos occurred on the first play of the fourth quarter, after the offense had converted two first downs and moved the ball into Jesuit territory. On third-and-10 from the Jesuit 35, Curtis fumbled the ball and the Rangers recovered it.
After a 13-play drive ate up nearly seven minutes of clock in the fourth quarter, Jesuit scored on a Durham four-yard touchdown run to make it 45-10.
The Rangers would score 24 unanswered points from the four consecutive Bronco turnovers in the second half, an unfortunate stretch of the game that cost Boyd a chance at advancing in the playoffs. After a season in which the Broncos finished with a winning record in a very competitive District 10-5A, Drake was nothing but proud of the play of his team, especially the senior class that suited up in Bronco red for the final time in their careers.
“I’ve said this all year long but this is the hardest working and coachable group of kids we’ve ever had,” said Drake. “They have always been outstanding and have carried themselves in a great manner, and I love and care for this group of kids and have set a really high standard for the kids that follow.”
Boyd has 29 seniors graduating in the spring, including nine offensive starters and six defensive starters. While the Broncos will be looking for a whole new offensive line next season, the biggest loss on the roster will be No. 5, who couldn’t believe his high school career was over following the game.
“I can’t believe it’s over. Thank you RedNation for all the support you gave us. I love this team and I will never forget them #AlwaysABronco,” Drisekll tweeted following the loss.
While Driskell is fielding college offers from schools such as Navy, Air Force, and New Mexico, Drake said that the man off the field is even better than the player on it.
“Bryan is a kid who has high character and is a great athlete, and he receives a lot of accolades that are very much deserved, but what I want everyone to know is that he is a great student and a great kid,” said Drake. “He is very respected amongst everyone who he comes in contact with because of the way he carries himself.”
Jesuit will play the winner of Saturday’s Longview-Rowlett next week in the area round.
Photos by DJ Newman