By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Writer
It is rare, but sometimes these non-district games can actually have legitimate playoff atmospheres. In front of a mostly poncho-wearing crowd at Ron Poe Stadium on Friday night, with rain and wind making conditions less than desirable, the McKinney Lions and the Denton Ryan Raiders gave their fans a playoff-like game in week four of the season.
Unfortunately for the hometown football fans, MHS suffered its first loss of the season by a score of 35-28, despite outgaining Denton Ryan 504 to 328 in total yards. The Lions fell to 4-1 on the season while the Raiders improved to 2-2.
After McKinney went into halftime with a 13-6 lead, the two teams would combine for 44 second-half points, including 29 in the fourth quarter. After the Lions tied up the game at 28-28 on Red Shannon’s third receiving touchdown of the game, Denton Ryan had the ball with 6:17 left in the ballgame. It didn’t take long before Raiders running back Tyrone Williams, who finished the game with 193 rushing yards on 25 carries, took the handoff up the middle and ran 46 yards for a touchdown, his third of the contest.
Down 35-28, Lions quarterback Robert Somborn and his explosive offense needed one more big drive to send this game into overtime. After starting at their own 17-yard line, the Lions drove down the field before they were faced with a 3rd and 14 from the Denton Ryan 4. With 1:32 left, Somborn’s pass fell incomplete and it appeared as though the Lions would have to come up with a huge fourth-down conversion.
After offsetting personal foul penalties that agitated the home crowd, the Lions were face with a long 4th and 14. With only one timeout remaining, anything less than 14 yards would mean the first loss of the season.
Somborn’s pass would fall incomplete and the Raiders would run out the clock to seal the victory. The Lions couldn’t overcome their early turnovers, including two fumbles and two interceptions in the team’s first four offensive possessions. Despite the six total team turnovers, MHS head coach Jeff Smith understands that you have to have amnesia when it comes to turnovers.
“You can’t dwell on them,” said Smith. “Every time we threw one we said, ‘Hey, let’s go, defense.’ We talked about what we saw and why we did it, and then we would make the adjustments. Obviously, we work on ball security and good decisions, but that’s a good football team and we have to give them a lot of credit. Their defense is always one of the best in the area.”
Somborn had his roughest night statistically of the season, throwing four interceptions and completing just 15 of 28 passes. He did throw for 286 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were on the receiving end of Shannon, who had a career night on Friday.
Shannon finished the game with 194 rushing yards on 29 carries and one rushing touchdown, while also catching seven passes for 174 yards and three scores. He finished with 368 offensive yards and had tremendous success running right up the middle versus a solid Raiders defense.
“They were big,” said Shannon. “But I give a bunch of respect to our offensive line for opening up holes and moving those big defensive linemen.”
“I thought [the run game] got better as the game went on,” said Smith. “Our football team has really shown that we start picking things up in the second half and Denton Ryan’s run game picked up as well. We felt like we had to keep the pressure on those defensive tackles. They play their ends pretty wide and we just had some lanes up in there and we made some good cuts. I was just real proud of the way we ran the ball in the second half.”
MHS played a solid game defensively, forcing three Raiders turnovers and holding the Raiders quarterback Preston Compton to just 57 yards on 4-of-16 passing. However, Williams big runs in the fourth quarter and ability to break Lion tackles was the difference in the game down the stretch.
Despite the soggy conditions, both sides had very loud and energetic crowds that created a December feel to a game in late September.
“It was a great atmosphere, and we really do appreciate all of the fans for coming out and really making a lot of noise,” said Smith. “That was very awesome for our kids to play in front of that.”
After completing their non-district schedule 4-1 and heading into a bye week, Smith reflected on what his team has learned the most from the past five weeks of football.
“I think more than anything we learned to believe a little bit. We learned to believe in ourselves and in what we are doing. We had a lot of these same pieces last year. We just couldn’t get over the hump. This year I really think the guys play well together and they enjoy being around one another. With that being said, they really believe that we can compete and that we can win games. That team concept and that belief is really what we take away from this.”
MHS is off next week but will return to action in the District 10-5A opener at Plano. Kick off is set for 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 12th at Plano’s John Clark Stadium.
Photos provided by TSB contributor D.J. Newman