PLANO – Coppell senior safety Isaiah Nichols has noticed a huge difference in the Cowboys’ defense over the last two games.
Three weeks ago, Coppell allowed Highland Park quarterback Brennan Storer to throw for 207 yards in the first half and the Scots totaled 430 yards of offense in a 28-13 win – a game that Coppell’s coaching staff moved a cornerback to safety, a safety to cornerback and started a freshman.
But it wasn’t just the changes in personnel that besieged Coppell that night.
“We weren’t as confident and not seeing what we can do on the field,” Nichols said. “But now, we’re getting more confidence. We’re staying humble.”
Nichols had a fumble recovery and interception on Friday night and Coppell converted four Plano West turnovers into 24 points in a 34-7 victory at John Clark Stadium. The Cowboys allowed just 116 yards of offense to the Wolves and West’s only points came on a pick-six.
“This is definitely a huge step in our development for this season,” Nichols said. “We’ve just been focused on grinding and playing hard. We’ve just got to stay humble and focus on the next team.”
It didn’t take long for Coppell’s defense to make its mark.
On West’s first offensive play of the game, Wolves senior Charlie Johnson ran a jet sweep to the right but Coppell senior outside linebacker Jack McAdams knocked out the ball and Nichols fell on the ball at the West 24.
Coppell capitalized on the West turnover. The Cowboys moved the ball to the Wolves 1-yard line after a 23-yard hookup from junior Jack Fishpaw to junior Evan Kraus. Junior Ike Odimegwu burst into the end zone on the very next play to give Coppell a 7-0 lead with 9:40 left in the first quarter. He had three touchdowns the week prior in a win against Plano.
“It’s not the same defense,” said Mike DeWitt, Coppell head coach. “There are a couple of different pieces. But mainly, it’s about those kids buying into the idea of trying to get better every week. They’re working hard during the week, and it’s paying off and showing up on Friday nights.”
Johnnie Ingram breathed some life into West later in the first quarter. As Fishpaw rolled to his left, Ingram jumped a route and returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown to knot the score at 7-all with 4:11 left in the opening stanza.
West was playing without junior quarterback Vance Feuerbacher, who is battling a recurring ankle injury. Feurerbacher suffered the injury Sept. 2 against North Mesquite. Junior Andrew Porkorny filled in for Feuerbacher and completed 4-of-10 passes for 29 yards. Dermot White carried 21 times for 62 yards.
But things went downhill from there for the Wolves.
Coppell scored 24 more points before the end of the first half – the last 14 of which were scored in a span of 17 seconds.
West was driving inside the Coppell 35 with five minute left in the second quarter but Nichols pounced on a Wolves fumble. Nine plays later, Cowboys senior quarterback Landry Fee ran 2 yards for his second rushing touchdown of the first half. Then, following an interception by Nichols, Fishpaw connected with Carter Kincaid on a 58-yard passing play for a 31-7 lead.
“Coppell came out and played well,” said Tyler Soukup, Plano West head coach. “They came out with a good plan. We’ve certainly got to fix a lot of things on our end. But give credit to Coppell. They out-played us tonight.”
While Plano West’s offense struggled, Coppell moved the ball well against the Wolves defense. Fishpaw bounced back nicely after throwing the early pick-six, completing 16-of-23 passes for 256 yards and a pair of scores. Kincaid caught four balls for 93 yards. Blake Robbins rushed for 57 yards on 16 carries.
“Jack has taken charge,” Nichols said. “He threw that early pick-six, but he kept his head up. He kept throwing, kept fighting. He’s throwing the rock well, making plays for the team. As long as he continues to do what he does, we’re going to continue to do what we will continue to do to get stops and keep the other team off the field.”
Coppell improved to 3-2 overall, 2-0 in District 6-6A. West dipped to 2-3, 0-3. It was the third straight loss for the Wolves after a 2-0 start to the season. The Wolves will look to snap their losing streak next Friday against Plano East. The Cowboys, meanwhile, will visit Marcus that same night. Both games kick off at 7 p.m.
“We’re capable,” Soukup said. “We’re very capable of being competitive every game on the rest of our schedule. The kids know that. We’ve got to look into the mirror and come back Monday and ready get to work.”
Panthers fall short to Lewisville
Plano East gave Lewisville quite the scare.
Panthers senior Ismail Mahdi did everything that he could for his team -- rushing for 190 yards and three touchdowns and throwing a 9-yard pass to Brian Dyer for a score. But Lewisville did just enough to get past East, 29-24, at Tom Kimbrough Stadium on Friday night. The Farmers improved to 5-0 overall, 2-0 in District 6-6A. The Panthers dropped to 1-4, 0-2.
Lewisville got another big performance from senior running back Damien Martinez. The Oregon State commit rushed for 202 yards on 24 carries with three touchdowns. Martinez also caught two balls for 87 yards and a touchdown. Ethan Terrell completed 15-of-23 passes for 296 yards in the win.
Lewisville won the game by five points despite more than doubling East in total yardage, 502-248.
Trailing 29-24 late in the game, the Panthers were given one last chance to pull of the win. East started at its own 10-yard line, but the Farmer defense allowed just one yard on that possession and the Panthers committed two penalties.