FRISCO – The Frisco Independence football team, in just six years of existence, has already solidified itself as a perennial playoff program and can now add another trophy to its mantle.
The Knights picked up their second-ever postseason win Thursday night with a 43-28 bi-district victory over Mansfield Timberview in a game in which they never trailed from start to finish.
“This means that we’re continuing to get better and improve as a program,” said Kyle Story, Independence head coach. “Timberview is a heck of a football team with athletes all over the field, and we were able to go out and compete with them tonight.”
All season long, Independence had relied heavily on its potent aerial attack, led by the dynamic trio of junior quarterback Braylon Braxton and wide receivers Khi’Yon Wafer and Zhighlil McMillan.
And although Braxton threw for 169 yards and a tossed touchdown to Wafer, the Knights found the majority of their success in the ground game with a whopping 330 rushing yards, spearheaded by Braxton’s game-high 193 yards on 23 carries and 129 more from junior running back Dwayne Orr.
The pair each found the end zone twice in the triumph, as the duo came up with big-time scores late in the second half while Timberview attempted a comeback.
“The running game was huge for us and really carried us tonight,” Story said. “We really weren’t able to get our passing game going as we had in past weeks, but the offensive line really did a great job for us.”
With the Knights clinging on to just a one-score lead at 29-21 late in the third quarter, the defense came up with one of its four takeaways on the night when junior defensive back Kendall Williams recovered a fumble near midfield as the Wolves looked to claw their way back in.
Moments later, Orr punched it in from 3 yards out for his second touchdown of the ballgame to give his team a 36-21 advantage before the defense came up with yet another pivotal turnover.
After a touchdown by Timberview’s Stacy Sneed to cut it back within eight points and an Independence punt early in the fourth, senior defensive back Princeton Ferguson picked off Sneed’s deep pass attempt to turn the tide yet again.
Then, just three plays following the Ferguson interception, Braxton added the finishing touches with a dazzling 40-yard touchdown run to help put things out of reach.
Just over seven minutes remained on the clock and Timberview drove down the field in attempts of keeping its season alive, but failed to convert a crucial fourth down in Knights territory to end the threat for good.
“If they get the first down, they have a chance to score and get an onside kick to make it a whole new ballgame,” Story said. “We always talk about winning the turnover war, and the defense created those turnovers tonight.”
Even though Independence didn’t cross the pylon until a 68-yard Orr touchdown with just 25 seconds left in the opening quarter, the Knights still set the tone early by scoring in a variety of fashions.
On Timberview’s first possession, Story’s squad forced the Wolves to punt from their own end zone only for the snap to sail over the punter’s head and out of bounds for a safety.
Two drives later, sophomore running back and kicker Reggie Bush tacked on three more points on the scoreboard for the Knights with a 34-yard field goal to give them an unorthodox lead at 5-0.
Despite producing points in some form or fashion, Story knows next week, against either state-ranked Lufkin or Texas High, that his unit must execute more efficiently if they want to move on to the third round for the first time in program history.
“I haven’t really seen Lufkin yet, but I’ve heard a lot about them,” he said. “They are very similar to what Lone Star has, so we’re going to have to play a lot more disciplined and not have the penalties we had tonight.”