Cowboys overcome early Plano East surge, rise to third in district

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Lilly Gorman

Coppell junior wide receiver Anthony Black catches a touchdown pass from Coppell senior quarterback Ryan Walker with four seconds remaining in the second quarter against Plano East at Tom Kimbrough Stadium on Friday. Coppell defeated the Panthers, 49-26.

Torie Peck, Staff Writer

MURPHY- With the glow of stadium lights, the blackened night sky, the cool breeze and the exhilarated stadium, last night’s game was the perfect scene for a dominating, Thanksgiving week win. Coppell and Plano East battled back and forth early to a relative stalemate but there was one sequence that sent the Cowboys on their way to a 49-26 victory at Tom Kimbrough Stadium.

With Plano East trailing Coppell by a point, it set down an offensive drive but Coppell’s defense did not back down as they needed to make a stop to avoid a Plano East score that would give it the lead.

And it delivered, with Coppell senior linebacker Tim O’Hearn intercepting Plano East senior quarterback Dylan Hayden. The interception gave Coppell the ball back and they quickly responded with a drive on their own that resulted in a touchdown from Coppell junior wide receiver Anthony Black.

“They were driving and they got down to about the five yard line. It was [nearly] tied up [at 14-13], so they would’ve been up in score,” O’Hearn said. “But I got the interception and we ended up scoring before the half. That was a big play and then coming out of half scored again and got the big lead, we rolled with it.”

There was no looking back once Coppell (5-3, 3-2 in District 6-6A) took the 21-13 lead over Plano East (0-8, 0-5) through Black, carrying vigor and high energy throughout the rest of the night with Coppell defeating Plano East.

The Cowboys greatest competitor throughout the night was Plano East junior wide receiver and running back Ismail Mahdi, who scored three of the four Panthers’ touchdowns.

“[Plano East is] very explosive on offense and they do a great job with their scheme, their running back [Mahdid] is probably one of the best ones we’ve played all year,” Coppell coach Michael DeWitt said. “Our kids did a great job responding even after some great plays and [managed to] get some turnovers.”

Coppell came flying out from the moment the second half began. After beginning their drive on the 25 yard line following a touchback, Coppell’s drive replicated that of the drive that closed the first half, culminating in a touchdown pass where Walker threw a floater over the Plano East defense and into the hands of Black, the same play call as the Black touchdown as before.

The two momentous touchdowns from Black is really where Coppell began to dominate Plano East. 

“[The two touchdowns] built our momentum and helped us come together as a team,” Black said. “Once we got those two touchdowns we started clicking and firing on all cylinders.”

With 22 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Plano East scored a touchdown run by Mahdid, bringing the score to 28-20. Coppell quickly responded through Coppell senior wide receiver KJ Liggins scoring a 51yard touchdown from Walker with 10:22 remaining in the fourth quarter

By the end of the game, both Black and Liggins scored two touchdowns and had 100 yards receiving. Walker finished with six touchdown passes and over 300 yards. And Coppell’s defense forced an interception, two fumbles and a blocked field goal.

“[Plano East] was a very explosive offense. We knew that they were going to make some [big] plays and we just had to keep fighting to make big plays ourselves,” O’Hearn said.“Just do your job, don’t try to do too much. If everyone does their job then we’ll be good.”

After last week, with Coppell’s defeat to Lewisville leaving them 2-2, Coppell needed two more district wins to make playoffs. Coppell’s victory leaves them tied for third place with Lewisville in its district, securing a playoff spot with a win next week. 

“If we wouldn’t have won this game we wouldn’t have been able to make it to the playoffs,” Black said. “Now all we have to do is win next week [against Flower Mound]. This is a big win.”

However, if Coppell does lose next week then Plano West will also have to lose for Coppell to make the playoffs.

Plano was eliminated from playoff contention following a defeat against Flower Mound, leaving the three remaining playoff spots to Hebron, Coppell, Lewisville and Plano West. Flower Mound Marcus won the district yesterday following a win against Lewisville.

The most notable games that will determine district seeding and whether Coppell makes playoffs or not will be Plano West at Plano and Lewisville at Hebron.

Next week the Cowboys will take on Flower Mound at Buddy Echols Field on Friday for their final regular season game.

Follow Torie (@torielpeck) and @sidekicksports1 on Twitter.