DENTON – The Colony head football coach Rudy Rangel told his Cougars to take a deep breath during halftime of Friday night’s District 5-5A Division I opener against Denton.
Rangel wanted his group to be in an upbeat mood despite a first half in which its offense moved the ball well but manufactured just one touchdown in five trips inside Bronco territory.
That positive attitude reflected in the Cougars’ play during the second half.
Senior kicker Kevin Albarran nailed a 36-yard field goal in the final minute of the third quarter before The Colony poured it on in the fourth quarter, scoring three touchdowns in a four-minute span to earn a 31-7 win at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
“Right now, with the youth of our football team, we’re not built to get away from people early,” said Rudy Rangel, The Colony head coach. “It’s one of those things that we’re going to have to stick with the plan. But, we stayed in the game. We made a lot of mistakes in the first half. I’m really excited how we did in the second half.”
Albarran’s field goal increased The Colony advantage to 10-7.
After a three-and-out by Denton (1-2 overall, 0-1 district), The Colony (2-1, 1-0) sophomore Kamden Wesley bounced a run outside for 34 yards, and on the following play, senior Kyle Taylor ran in from 4 yards out to increase the Cougar lead to 16-7. The Broncos blocked the extra point.
Taylor had his hands all over this game. He recovered a fumbled on the second play of the ensuing drive after a Cougar defender jarred the ball loose out of the hands of Bronco sophomore quarterback Blake Courtney. Three plays later, Wesley ran from the 29 for another touchdown for The Colony and a 24-7 lead after Taylor ran in the 2-point conversion.
Wesley carried the ball five times for 59 yards.
The Colony turned another Denton mistake into points a little over a minute later.
After a botched hold on a punt gave the Cougars possession at the Bronco 13-yard line, Davonta Dunn iced the second consecutive win for The Colony with a 6-yard run.
All of the frustration associated with the missed scoring opportunities in the first half suddenly vanquished.
The first half was a frustrating one for The Colony, indeed.
The Cougars chewed up clock with its Wing-T offense in the first half. The Cougars ran 32 plays to Denton’s 23 and outgained the Broncos, 205-85. But, The Colony managed only one touchdown in five trips inside Denton territory.
Thankfully for the Cougars, they hung their hat on an outstanding defensive performance.
The Colony centered its game plan around stopping sophomore running back Coco Brown. He gashed Fort Worth Chisolm Trail’s defense for 180 yards and three touchdowns a week ago. The Colony held him to 67 yards on 17 carries.
Overall, Denton mustered just 170 yards of total offense.
“He’s a good football player,” Rangel said of Brown. “Their quarterback is good. They’re a young team like we are. But, we got a lot of hats to the ball and set the tone in the second half.”
The Cougars opened the scoring on the game’s third drive.
The Colony senior Benji Nelson ran the sweep around the left end and into the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 3:23 left in the first quarter. A 60-yard pass play from senior quarterback Jonathan Roberson to junior Kione Roberson set up the score.
With Denton stacking the box to stop the run, Roberson used his strong arm in the passing game. He finished 11-of-22 through the air with 193 yards. Nelson was Roberson’s favorite target, catching five passes for 71 yards. Nelson also rushed for 36 yards on six carries.
It could have been easy for the Cougars as they missed out on four other scoring opportunities inside Bronco territory, including a screen pass on a fourth-down play from the Denton 32 two minutes into the second quarter that gained 20 yards, but ended in a fumble recovery for the home team.
All of those missed opportunities caught up to The Colony.
With 26 seconds remaining in the first half, Denton senior quarterback Cole Hager threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Bell, Jr., who was wide open in the left side of the end zone.
That tied the score at 7-7.
The Colony chose not to take a knee to run out the remaining time on the clock.
Seeking a switch in momentum, the Cougars nearly got another score in the final seconds of the first half. Roberson threw a 31-yard pass to Nelson to move the ball to the Bronco 29. But, that drive ended without points. Denton intercepted a pass in the end zone with two seconds left.
The Cougars didn’t flinch.
The Colony found its groove in the fourth quarter and went on to earn the victory.
“We left a lot of points on the field,” Rangel said. “We’ve got a lot of film work to do. But, like I said at halftime, the message was, ‘Relax, make plays one at a time. We had to get a stop. We got one right there at the beginning of the third quarter. I liked the way we finished the game.”
TC 7 0 3 21 – 31
DHS 0 7 0 0 – 7
TC – Benji Nelson 16 run (Kevin Albarran kick) 3:23
DHS – Kevin Bell Jr. 20 pass from Blake Courtney (Jonah Lawrence kick), 0:26
TC – Kevin Albarran 36 FG, 0:48
TC – Kyle Taylor 3 run (kick blocked), 10:41
TC – Kamden Wesley 29 run (Taylor run), 8:35
TC – Davonta Dunn 6 run (Albarran kick), 6:39