Despite 180 yards from Plano Senior junior running back Tylan Hines in the first half alone, Plano East and senior star Trey Jones-Scott kept the Wildcats within striking distance throughout the opening two quarters of Friday’s crosstown rivalry at Clark Stadium.
Still, as the final horn sounded, it was Plano that took yet another step toward a playoff berth in District 9-6A, pulling away with a pair of early second-half scores and holding off the Panthers for a 42-20 victory.
Hines had his best effort of the season in the win, finishing with 261 yards on just 20 carries and finding the end zone three times.
“I love him. I love coaching him. He’s full of energy, and he’s positive,” said Jaydon McCullough, Plano head coach. “He’s one of the hardest workers on our team, and he exemplifies what you want in a running back. He’s dynamic. Sometimes, it doesn’t look like he has anything, and he can make it.”
The win was a critical one for the Wildcats, as it moved the program to 3-1 in league play and dropped the Panthers to 1-3 in the process, widening the gap between the teams and propelling Plano further above the conference’s cut line with three games remaining.
“It was one of the ones that we felt like, as a coaching staff, we needed to win,” Jaydon McCullough said. “But we’re not there yet, and that’s going to be my message to the team – ‘Hey, let’s have fun, let’s enjoy the win, this is great, but we’ve got more work to do.’ We’ve got to shore some things up.”
Hines and Jones-Scott staged an ongoing duel throughout Friday’s contest, as each carried their respective offenses in the matchup.
While Hines and his two 50-plus-yard touchdown runs won the first two frames, Jones-Scott had an explosive half of his own, accounting for 155 all-purpose yards and a score.
Jones-Scott finished with 198 all-purpose yards opposite the Wildcat junior, though East head coach Joey McCullough said the senior’s impact extends well beyond his final line.
“I’ve said it before – Trey Jones-Scott is one of the best athletes that’s ever come through here, and I thought he played an unbelievable game tonight,” he said. “It’s not always about the running. It’s his blocking, his protection, his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, and Trey’s a special guy.”
The game was within a score at intermission, as the Panthers tacked on a late second-quarter score from senior Ryan Foust to fellow senior Harrison Record to back up an initial strike through the air from Foust to Jones-Scott and make it 21-13 at the break.
Getting the ball to begin the second half, though, Plano stretched the lead to 35-13 with back-to-back scores on a touchdown pass from junior Oliver Towns to senior Christian Sabatini and another rushing score from Hines. The advantage was enough to allow the Wildcats to cruise to the 22-point win.
Towns finished the night with 128 yards and two scores through the air on 13-for-21 passing.
East junior quarterback Dylan Hayden, who Joey McCullough said wasn’t 100% earlier in the week with lingering pain from a shoulder injury, didn’t see the field under center, instead lining up out wide for a significant portion of East’s snaps.
The East head coach said Hayden simply wasn’t healthy enough to be under center in the game.
“He’s got to get 100% healthy,” he said. “The kid’s great, man. I love Dylan. His effort was incredible.”
Foust had a solid night in his return to the starting role, going 17-for-30 for 215 yards and three touchdowns, though one was a final-seconds, garbage-time score.
With its postseason destiny likely in its own hands, Plano will next travel to Jesuit to take on the Rangers Friday.
East, meanwhile, will likely have a difficult time keeping its head above water in the face of an ever-lengthening and injury-laden uphill battle.
“I know our kids are hurting right now, but we’re going to keep working and keep getting better,” Joey McCullough said. “I love these kids, and it’s like I’m going to tell them all the time – life doesn’t always go the way you want it to go, but in how we respond to adversity with our faith and our patience, we have an opportunity to get better in life.”
“We’ve still got three ballgames left, and we’re going to keep working, man, and see what we can pull out of it.”
Both games will kick off at 7 p.m.
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