Four of a kind: McKinney keeps perfect with another 40-point output
Photo courtesy of Jerome Miron / buzzzphotos.com
It was a game of short memories for the McKinney football team Friday night.
Senior wideout Connor Fuentes avenged a first-play fumble with 219 receiving yards and two touchdowns, and the Lions (4-0) scored 21 unanswered points on their way to a 41-18 victory over the North Garland Raiders (1-3).
McKinney eclipsed 40 points for the fourth straight week, again with big plays on offense and defense. But unlike last week’s 42-7 victory against Irving Nimitz, when the outcome was never in doubt, the Lions didn’t break out until the third quarter.
They went into the half up 14-6 – a fortunate lead given the Raiders missed a field goal and dropped an interception they could have taken the other way for six points.
“We weren’t clicking on all cylinders in the first half,” said Jeff Smith, McKinney head football coach. “We just told them the better team was going to make adjustments, come out at halftime and go win the game. We challenged our kids to win the second half, and they came out and did that.”
North Garland’s Rodarius Mosley answered McKinney’s first score when he returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown midway through the second quarter. But after the Raiders scored again early in the third and seemed dead-set on keeping the game close, Fuentes further erased his early blunder.
Already with a first-half 12-yard touchdown, Fuentes returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards for a would-be touchdown. An unnecessary block in the back silenced McKinney’s celebration – but not for long.
Fuentes broke wide open on the next play to catch a halfback pass from junior TV Williams and jog untouched into the end zone, pushing the Lions lead to 21-12. Fuentes caught a 33-yard pass and 23-yard pass on ensuing drives.
“We were picked to beat them, so we really wanted to just stay focused and not get big heads,” said Fuentes, who now leads the team with 24 catches on the season. “They just called my number a lot tonight and I stepped up. We all did.”
Behind running back Aaron Johnson’s 105 yards, the Raiders nearly doubled McKinney’s yardage on the ground (202 to 114), but it was a different story through the air. Mosley and fellow junior Chad Wesley took their turns behind center and combined for 6-of-18 passing for just 93 yards and no touchdowns.
Somborn, a constant for a McKinney offense that seemed out of sync the first half, ended up with 302 yards and four scores on 19-of-28 passing. He has 16 touchdown passes and just two interceptions on the season.
“We had good protection, and Robert threw some great balls,” Smith said. “It was just a good effort by everybody, on offense and defense.”
The defense, which came out in the second half seemingly fired up, did its part to blow open the game. Junior safety Jontrell Rocuemore picked up a fumbled pitch in Raider territory and returned it 24 yards for a score to push the lead to 28-12.
Other than a 50-yard pitch-and-catch between Mosley and wideout Gene Thomas, which led to the Raiders’ final points, the Lions dominated the rest of the way. Senior running back Jonathan Shannon, the Lions’ leading rusher for the game, took a Somborn screen pass 40 yards to the house and caught a goal-line touchdown toss on consecutive fourth-quarter possessions to put the game out of reach.
The Lions didn’t stray too far from their 518-yard average thus far this season. They finished with 453 total yards to the Raiders’ 295.
It seems their struggles of a year ago are a distant past. Fueled by Fuentes’ bounce-back performance and a second-half turnaround, they continued their new, perfect season.
“It’s nice to have a lot of guys who can step up and make big plays,” Smith said. “But we’ve got some things to tighten up, so we’re going to go back to work.”
McKinney faces Denton Ryan next week for its final game before district play. And even coming off four convincing victories, every Lion seems focused on the future.
“We’re still hungry,” Fuentes said. “We’re not satisfied yet.”