After losing to McKinney for three consecutive seasons, the Plano Senior football team finally broke through.
The Wildcats jumped out to a big 42-14 lead behind four explosive plays of 45 yards or more only to tire and allow McKinney to come back and cut the lead to 42-35 on Thursday before the game was delayed due to inclement weather and rescheduled for Friday afternoon. Once the game resumed, with just over 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, a renewed Plano (4-2, 2-1) squad produced two more explosive plays to hold on to a 56-49 win over McKinney (2-4, 0-3) in a swing game in the district standings for both teams.
The win is easily the biggest for Plano this season and allows them to take a big step forward toward playing in the postseason.
“This is definitely a big win for us. They had beaten us three times in a row and I’m very proud of how our kids and my coaching staff performed yesterday and today and they deserve all of the credit,” said Jaydon McCullough, Plano head coach. “[McKinney head coach Marcus Shavers] does a great job with McKinney and you saw the evidence by how they never gave up. I’m definitely proud of the win and we will celebrate it today, but my message to the team is we have to get better everywhere if we plan to take this home and get into the playoffs.”
During Thursday’s portion of the game, Plano was simply at its best when needed, converting a myriad of third downs on the way to scoring on its first six possessions. The Wildcats routinely broke the Lions’ backs by averaging 28.6 yards per play on the third-down conversions, highlighted by touchdowns passes from junior Oliver Towns to senior Christian Sabatini and junior Tylan Hines from 23 and 46 yards out.
Once the game resumed on Friday, Plano had wind at its back and took full advantage on the first play from scrimmage as Towns found senior Nolan Williams streaking down the sideline for a 56-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats a 56-42 lead. Williams’ big play capped off a career game in which he had five receptions for 153 yards and three touchdowns. More importantly, it gave Plano the momentum needed to hold off McKinney in the end.
“The big touchdown once the game began was called during our warm-up before the game restarted and was simply a product of execution and making a big play for my team,” Williams said. “Once I made the touchdown, I knew we were going to win the game today, but more importantly it’s about maintaining our momentum and keep winning because we still have to play East, Jesuit and the rest of those tough teams.”
Despite the impressive comeback attempt, McKinney, still winless in district play, now faces the daunting task of potentially being forced to run the table the rest of the season just for a chance at a playoff berth. Although they got a career-high rushing effort from O.J. Reed, who ran for 169 yards and three touchdowns, the Lions know they’ll need more consistency on both sides of the ball if they have any plans on getting into playoff contention.
“I don’t know if the delay hurt us or not — they were in the same boat but played well. But it was a lack of execution on our part and we got out-played and out-coached by Plano and props goes to them,” Shavers said. “I’m very proud of the guys. I believe we have a good football team and we fought back and showed that. We just have a lot of things to work on and correct before playing Plano West.”
Both teams return to the field next Friday with McKinney taking on Plano West at McKinney ISD stadium while Plano take on archrival Plano East at Clark Stadium.