CORINTH – With senior Brandon Engel under center in the first half after being questionable to play in Friday night’s opener against Denton, the Lake Dallas offense looked explosive.
By the end of the night, though, a second-half injury to Engel and some costly sloppiness, particularly on special teams, landed the Falcons on the wrong side of a 37-34 overtime decision.
“The special teams were not. We had a blocked punt and a couple of blocked field goals. It was not good,” said Michael Young, Lake Dallas head coach. “But there were a lot of positives from tonight – we’d gone two scrimmages and hadn’t scored a point, so I thought we moved the ball really well tonight.”
A lingering leg injury left uncertainty surrounding the No. 1 signal-caller for Lake Dallas, though Engel would get the nod over junior Trevor Moon to begin the 2019 campaign. And begin it did, with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bang. After an opening stop from the Falcon defense, Engel found senior defensive back Kobee Minor, lining up out wide on offense, on the first play from scrimmage for a 52-yard strike that put the Falcons up 7-0.
That combination, coupled with a two-headed rushing tandem of seniors Ike Onyekwere and Trevor Lindsey, produced a more big-play-capable offensive effort than Young anticipated.
“One thing that we’d been lacking in all the fall camp and in the scrimmages was the big play, and we saw some big plays tonight,” he said. “We’re not going to have a bunch of them. We’re just not made that way at receiver … but we made some big plays tonight. The 15-to-20-yard plays really help us.”
However, a blocked field goal and a fumble inside Denton’s 1-yard line set the tone for the remainder of the Falcons’ middling effort, as ball security and blocking remained issues throughout, especially with junior offensive lineman Jackson Berry sidelined due to injury.
The Falcons also struggled to defend the run in the opening two quarters, giving up 146 yards on 14 carries to Denton’s Connor Shelley.
Still, they had a chance to win, fueled by some late-game heroics and a 20-point fourth quarter. Trailing the Broncos, 26-21, with two minutes and change to go, Moon – who played a large part of the second half after Engel left the contest – found senior Hunter Hope for a 25-yard touchdown to put the Falcons up 27-26. On the ensuing drive, an interception return for a touchdown from senior Christian Hernandez put Lake Dallas on top, 34-26, and seemed to be the dagger.
A 66-yard touchdown pass from Denton’s Davian Guajardo to wideout Kevin Bell and a two-point conversion with just 1:09 remaining, though, set the stage for extra time and junior Daniel ReCalderon’s walk-off, 34-yard field goal.
“I told them it (didn’t) come down to that last play. We fumbled on the 1-foot line and did all kinds of crazy stuff,” Young said. “But I was proud of the way we played hard. We’ve got a lot of new guys on a Friday night, and I thought they handled the adversity and the back-and-forth (well).”
Engel finished the night with 218 yards passing and the lone touchdown to Minor, adding a 1-yard touchdown run before exiting. Moon threw for 36 yards and rushed for another 15 in backup duty, an effort highlighted by his late score to Hope.
“I thought he did great with it,” Young said. “He’s done that in the scrimmages. We can move the ball and do things with him. We’re not worried about that at all. … Our biggest problem in being more consistent throwing the ball is we had a hard time protecting the quarterback.”
On the ground, Onyekwere rumbled for 131 yards on 33 carries, while Lindsey racked up 67 in relief. Minor accounted for 90 total yards of offense. Sophomore Godwin Ugochukwu also had a rushing score.
Moving forward, Young said he didn’t know the immediate extent of Engel’s injury or even if it was related to his previous ailment.
Overall, despite the setback, the Falcon head coach said he was pleased with both his team’s fight and the fixable nature of its opening-week transgressions.
“To be honest, I was worried that we would come out here and really have a hard time scoring points. … That’s really exciting to see. I thought we did some good stuff on offense and stuff we can build on,” he said.
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