By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
“We have got to make plays.”
Coach Mike Fecci’s words summed up the feeling around his McKinney North Bulldog football team following a crucial 35-20 loss to Wylie at Ron Poe Stadium on Friday night. Both teams came into the matchup with a District 13-4A record of 1-2, tied with Denison and Royse City for fourth place.
With the loss, the Bulldogs drop to 1-3 in District 13-4A and 1-6 overall. The Pirates improved to 2-2 in district and 2-5 overall, and are now in sole possession of fourth place. North is in a three-way tie for fifth with Denison and Royse City.
North had its fair share of opportunities to pull out a win. After Wylie quarterback Carson Cook connected with Alex Wesley on a bubble screen that went 34 yards for a touchdown to put the Pirates up 28-10, Ben Dutze and the Bulldogs needed a big play to turn the momentum of the game.
On the second play of the series, Dutze found Evan Jones coming across the field and hit him in stride for a 70-yard touchdown to cut the Pirates’ lead to 28-17. On the ensuing kickoff, North kicker Will Ashun kicked onside to the middle of the field, and after the pile of players was removed from the field, the Bulldogs had come up with the football and a chance to make it a one-score game.
After moving the ball to the Wylie 14, the Bulldogs were faced with a third down and three. Although he had been in the shotgun the entire evening, Dutze moved under center and attempted to take the snap and run the play. The play was not executed as it was drawn up, as the ball landed on the ground and was successfully recovered by Dutze to bring up a fourth down and a field goal attempt.
Ashun would kick a 32-yard field goal to bring the score to 28-20, but on the ensuing kickoff he tried another onside kick, and despite getting a great bounce and having three or four guys around the football, Wylie was able to recover the ball at their own 45-yard line.
Unfortunately for the fans in blue and orange, just the opposite happened three drives later after they forced the Pirates to punt from their own 44-yard line.
On the punt return, the Bulldogs muffed the punt and Wylie recovered the ball at the North 11-yard line. Three plays later, Cook would find Winkler for his fifth passing touchdown of the game to make the score 35-20, and officially close the door on a Bulldog comeback with under five minutes to go in the game.
After the game, North head coach Mike Fecci understood that this was a game of missed opportunities for his football team.
“Missed opportunities have been the story of our whole season,” said Fecci. “You got to make plays. If you don’t make plays you aren’t going to beat people, period. We didn’t make plays and they did.”
When asked about attempting two onside kicks in a matter of two drives, Fecci said he wanted to bring some extra energy to his football team.
“It is something we work on every day,” said Fecci. “We’ve done it all year long and I felt like it was a good time to bust it out, because it would give us some emotion and it did. We got one of them and we didn’t get the other, but at the same time we executed them both pretty well.”
The Bulldogs finished with 329 total offensive yards compared to the Pirates 347 yards. Dutze finished 15-of-30 for 178 yards and the 70-yard touchdown to Jones, while Cook finished 26-of-38 for 310 yards and five touchdowns.
North had another solid night from its running backs, with Justin Jones gaining 69 yards on 13 carries while Ronald Jones gained 68 yards on 16 carries. Ronald has a two-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to make the score 14-7 Wylie. Evan Jones led all Bulldog receivers with 84 yards on two carries, 70 of them on the long touchdown reception in the third quarter. KJ Bualicex had a team-high in receptions with five for 46 yards.
Wylie’s Winkler and Wesley had tremendous days catching the ball, with both playmakers going for over 100 yards. Winkler finished with 11 catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns, while Wesley caught seven passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Alex Pina-Rhoden caught a 65-yard touchdown in the second quarter for his only score of the game.
After the game, Fecci had a strong message to his team about what they needed to do in the final three games of the season in order to find themselves playing deep into November.
“Four wins get you in. We’ve got Greenville, Wylie East, and Denison left. If we can go out there and win all three of those games, we got a great chance of getting in. There’s a lot of football left to be played in this district, and we have just got to go do what we have been trying to do for the last eight weeks. We’ve got to come back and answer the call and just make plays.
“We have got to make plays.”
The Bulldogs will travel to Greenville next Friday night. Greenville is 0-4 in District 13-4A. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
OTHER SCORES FROM DISTRICT 13-4A:
Royse City 28
Wylie East 42
DISTRICT 13-4A STANDINGS THROUGH WEEK SEVEN:
1. Lovejoy 4-0 7-0
2. Sherman 4-0 6-1
3. Wylie East 3-1 5-2
4. Wylie 2-2 2-5
5. Denison 1-3 1-6
5. North 1-3 1-6
5. Royse City 1-3 1-6
8. Greenville 0-4 0-7