MURPHY – As junior Dylan Hayden’s last-ditch, Hail-Mary effort fell into the arms of Plano West senior defensive back John Thomas and Kimbrough Stadium’s horn sounded for the final time Friday night, West seniors Danny Davis and Wyatt Johnson embraced.
It had finally happened. After more than three calendar years of misery, the West football team streamed onto the field, the Wolves unsure of what to do with themselves in their euphoria. They had just beaten rival Plano East, 36-35, overcoming an 18-point fourth-quarter deficit to snap the program’s 34-game losing streak.
“It was amazing,” Davis said. “I went up to Wyatt and just hugged him. I just can’t believe it happened.”
Unlike other near-misses this season under first-year head coach Tyler Soukup, West appeared buried early in the contest’s final frame. After leading at the half, 10-7, a 21-7 run in the third quarter and a three-yard scamper from East senior running back Trey Jones-Scott saw West’s deficit balloon to 18 points, 35-17, with time ticking away. Seven minutes, six minutes, five minutes to play – for West fans, another round of what-might-have-been likely kicked into gear.
With 4:14 left, Johnson caught his second touchdown pass of the night from Davis, cutting the East lead to 35-24.
With 49 seconds left, Davis scampered in on fourth-and-goal from the 7-yard line, making it 35-30.
After a successful onside kick, which was marred by controversy after a flag on West was picked up and waved off, and a 15-yard penalty on East, with 23 seconds to play, Johnson and Davis found one another again.
On third-and-goal from the 10-yard line, Johnson hauled in the game’s final score, and the celebration began building toward its crescendo.
When Thomas secured that final, game-ending interception, it couldn’t be contained any longer.
“The monkey that’s on their back really isn’t their monkey, but it is off their back. It’s off everybody’s back,” Soukup said. “I couldn’t be more happy for the kids and the program and the school and the community – since I’ve taken the job, I’ve heard a whole lot about it. Hopefully, we can start talking about some good things.”
West finished the night out-gaining East, 418-371, in total offense, much of that production coming in the second half and during the wild, unbridled comeback. Davis finished with 279 yards through the air and three touchdowns, all to Johnson, and added his lone score on the turf.
West junior Tabren Yates also had a big night, tallying 122 yards and a score on the ground.
When that final pass from Davis found its intended target in Johnson, Davis said his emotions were simple.
“I was just so happy,” he said. “I knew once we scored that we weren’t going to let up. We weren’t going to lose that game”
For East, Hayden finished 11-of-15 passing for 156 yards and two scores, chipping in a team-high 106 yards and two more scores on the ground. Jones-Scott tallied three total touchdowns, two through the air, and 182 all-purpose yards.
Moving forward, Davis said he and his fellow seniors were the beneficiaries of a culture change in West’s program that has allowed them to leave a legacy worth building on.
As far as Soukup is concerned, that’s exactly what the Wolves will do.
“We told them that we feel like we’ve fully turned the ship, and now it’s full steam ahead,” he said. “I want them to be happy, and I want them to celebrate, but I never came over to West to win one game.”
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