Cam Constantine MISD Opening Night

North senior quarterback Cam Constantine scrambles for a few of his 47 rushing yards during North’s season-opening victory over crosstown rival McKinney in the inaugural game at the new McKinney ISD Stadium.

McKinney North continued its dominance over crosstown rival McKinney by controlling all phases of the game on Thursday to grab a huge 31-13 season-opening victory.

Both teams competed in the first-ever game at the new $70 million McKinney ISD Stadium in front of close to 10,000 fans to kick off the inaugural McKinney Classic. With the win, North has now opened its season with a victory for the sixth consecutive year and has now beaten McKinney five straight times by an average of 15.6 points per game.

Despite struggling at times on offense and a lackluster first half, the Bulldogs were able to right the ship and give glimpses of just how good they can be with a dominant second half.

“I thought we played really well in the second half. It took us a while to get going offensively, but we came through on a big fourth down to seal the deal,” said Mike Fecci, North head coach. “I’m very proud of our team, especially our defense, because they played outstanding. This is a big win for our program and it’s a week that I’m glad is over because it has been fun, but now it’s time to move on. But we are going to enjoy this win first.”

After allowing McKinney senior quarterback Kelvin Thomas to score the first touchdown ever in MISD Stadium on a 9-yard scamper, North answered back with a 12-play, 75-yard drive, capped by North junior running back Manny Fincher’s 6-yard touchdown run.

That marked the first of 24 unanswered points for the Bulldogs, including a sequence early in the third quarter where North senior Hunter Chae returned a punt 83 yards down the home sideline to break the Lions’ backs and give North a 17-7 lead with 6:29 remaining in the quarter.

North senior quarterback Cam Constantine took over from there by leading a 12-play, 67-yard drive where he accounted for 49 yards and finished the drive by scoring from 4 yards out on a zone-read option run.

After McKinney senior Cordrick Dunn’s 1-yard plunge cut the lead to 24-13 on the ensuing drive, Constantine would answer again by completing his best-thrown pass of the night, finding junior wide receiver Noah Ford for a 38-yard touchdown to cap of the scoring and secure North’s first win at its new home.

“I played High my freshman season but to beat them on the varsity level is no better feeling and an awesome and surreal experience,” Constantine said. “I felt like I was at the University of Texas playing a college football game because the atmosphere here tonight was unimaginable – better than The Star and AT&T Stadium. I’m very glad this stadium is ours.”

Constantine finished the night as North’s most productive offensive player by going 10-of-13 through the air for 122 yards and one touchdown, along with running for 47 yards and one score on the ground. McKinney was led by Dunn, who produced his third career 100-yard rushing game by running for 109 yards on 20 carries.

Despite taking its first season-opening loss since 2015, all is not doom and gloom for McKinney. The Lions battled back from the Bulldogs’ onslaught in the second half and brought a physical presence that will only serve them well in navigating the shark tank of District 9-6A competition.

Going forward, the Lions look to cut down on penalties – committing nine in Thursday’s loss – and develop their offense around the senior trio of Aaron Brown, Thomas and Dunn, who each bring an element of explosiveness to the table.

“I like the way they responded in the second half after getting punched in the mouth because that’s a good football team and credit to coach Fecci and his staff. They did a good job of preparing their team to come out and play hard,” said Marcus Shavers, McKinney head coach. “We made some mistakes and stubbed our toe a couple of times on some drives, turned the ball over a couple of times and missed some tackles, but credit to them. They are a very good football team and were prepared.

“Next week, I want see us come out and execute better and limit the mistakes and penalties, because when we become a football team that limits that I think we can play with anybody.”

McKinney next travels to Ralph and Joy Ellis Stadium to take on Irving MacArthur at 7:30 p.m. Friday, while North returns to MISD Stadium to host Justin Northwest at 7 p.m. that same night.     

For continued coverage of the local sports scene, follow Kendrick E. Johnson on Twitter @kendrickjohnso 

 

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