Coppell Ryan Walker

Coppell senior Ryan Walker, left, and the Cowboys held off Plano late for a 35-33 win.

PLANO – A sloppy start to district play ultimately went Coppell’s way on Friday.

Quarterback Ryan Walker and Coppell scored three unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter to blow a one-point game wide open, and the Cowboys overcame a shaky fourth quarter to hold off Plano, 35-33, in each team’s District 6-6A opener at Clark Stadium. 

Plano’s Dylan Davis blocked a punt late in the fourth quarter, leading to a Tylan Hines touchdown that brought the Wildcats to within nine, but the extra point attempt was no good. 

That would hurt Plano later, as the Wildcats scored one more touchdown with 30 seconds remaining but couldn’t get closer than two points. 

Backup quarterback Austin Gonzalez led two touchdown drives in relief of starter Oliver Towns. 

“We never give up,” said Hines, who finished with three rushing touchdowns. “Football is all about momentum, and we had it there at the end. We’re not satisfied by any means with a loss, but we can build on this.”

Leading by one at halftime, Walker threw three touchdown passes and the Cowboy defense shut down Plano in the third quarter to take a 35-13 lead. Plano didn’t score a second-half point until 5:33 remaining in the game, when Hines punched the ball into the end zone from 1 yard out. 

That started a furious comeback, which included the Plano defense stopping Coppell on its final three drives. Ultimately, Plano ran out of time after scoring 21 unanswered points. 

It wasn’t always pretty for Coppell: Besides the blocked punt, Walker threw four interceptions, and his heralded receiving corps dropped numerous passes throughout the game. Wide receiver Keith Liggins also muffed a punt return late in the game that gave Plano deep field position. 

“It was a sloppy game on both sides,” said Mike DeWitt, Coppell head coach. “But we just came off a bye, and we had two really good weeks of practice. It’s good anytime you get a win, especially to start district play. We’ve got to have another great week of practice - we play Plano West next week and they’re a really good football team.”

Towns, who started the game, finished with 26 rushing yards and 132 passing yards before giving way to Gonzalez in the fourth quarter. Hines was effective coming out of the backfield with 58 yards, but Towns and the Wildcat offense were forced to abandon the run early in the fourth quarter as it faced a 22-point deficit. 

The three quarterbacks combined for six interceptions in the game. 

The first half was, like the rest of the game, a bit mistake-prone. 

Towns found junior Michael Dorsey all alone at the Coppell 30-yard line after avoiding two sacks in the backfield, and Dorsey made three Cowboy defenders miss en route to a 48-yard score. Walker answered, leading a quality drive downfield and scoring on a 3-yard run to tie the game. 

Sloppy play then hindered both teams: A minus-2-yard punt on one drive, plus a bad snap resulting in a loss of 12 yards on another killed two drives for the Wildcats, and a missed extra point; Coppell’s Walker threw two first-half interceptions and his receivers combined for five first-half drops. 

Plano also committed six penalties for 50 yards in the first half. Still, the score was only 14-13 in favor of the Cowboys at the midway point. 

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