The Coppell football team played its best game of the season for four quarters.
Overtime, though, belonged to undefeated Marcus.
Coppell controlled the ball on offense, played aggressive defense, and even stole a possession with a successful onside kick on Friday against the Marauders. It all resulted in a 7-7 deadlock going into overtime.
But a Tyler Gainey touchdown, a successful fake-field-goal-turned-pass to Colin Sutherland in the end zone and a pass break up on fourth down by Jaden Robinson gave Marcus a 15-7 win at Marauder Stadium.
The win, along with Flower Mound’s loss to Hebron, gave Marcus sole possession of first place in District 6-6A at 4-0. Coppell fell to 1-3.
Marcus received the ball first in the extra period and quickly drove to the 1-yard line. Gainey then took the ball and dove in for the score. Ethan Barr then took a direct snap, faked a handoff to the kicker, and threw to Sutherland in the end zone for a successful two-point conversion.
Robinson then broke up two passes on third and fourth down to end Coppell’s possession and the game.
Marcus head coach Kevin Atkinson said he knew Coppell would put its best foot forward Friday as the Cowboys “played for their lives” in the district race.
“I always say an animal is most dangerous when its back is against the wall,” Atkinson said. “I knew (Coppell head coach Mike DeWitt) would have a good game plan, and they played a heck of a game in all three phases. They were awesome.”
But Marcus’ defense was up to the challenge, too, and the offense – so used to scoring in bunches after averaging more than 40 points per game in the first three games of district – stayed poised before striking with a quick touchdown in overtime.
“I think we had a good plan heading into overtime,” Atkinson said. “Tyler Gainey played such a great game all night, and we gave him the ball and he led us.”
Marcus quarterback Garrett Nussmeier finished with 170 passing yards and a touchdown, and Gainey had 92 yards and a score on 10 carries. Robinson, aside from making the winning pass deflection in overtime, also caught six balls for 48 yards.
Coppell leaned heavily on running back Jason Ngwu, who was spectacular with 90 yards on 24 carries.
Penalties overshadowed a defensive struggle, as the teams combined for 15 flags and 130 penalty yards. But that didn’t stop either Coppell or Marcus from incorporating an aggressive game plan.
So good was Coppell’s run-control offense that Marcus was held to, in Atkinson’s estimation, about half of its usual first-half play count.
“We ran only 15 plays in the first half, and we usually run about 30,” Atkinson said. “Credit their offense for really keeping us off our game plan. And they stole a possession with that onside kick. You just have to give Coppell a ton of credit for the way they played tonight.”
A spark of the spectacular drew an audible reaction from the crowd in the second quarter, as Coppell sophomore receiver Anthony Black came down with a contested, one-handed catch in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown, giving the Cowboys a 7-0 lead that they took to the locker room.
Coppell, looking for a spark after a 1-2 start to district play, also went for several fourth downs in addition to its successful onside kick.
It all almost led to what would have been an enormous victory for the Cowboys, who now sit outside the playoff picture in 6-6A.
“We played our most solid game of the year and had our best week of practice,” DeWitt said. “I’m just so proud of the way our guys battled tonight. That’s a really good football team over there, and I think we gave them everything they could handle.”