First half enough for Coppell to get over the line against Plano East

Cowboys striving to execute after uncharacteristic second half


Torie Peck

Plano East senior defensive lineman Cedric Diggs chases Coppell junior quarterback Jack Fishpaw last night at Buddy Echols Field. The Cowboys defeated the Panthers, 27-21.

Meer Mahfuz, Staff Writer

The story of night was once again Coppell’s lack of execution. Despite scoring 24 straight points in the first half, the second half was a near opposite to the former’s performance. 

Despite Plano East’s three-touchdown second half rally, Coppell rode its first half and defeated the Panthers, 27-21, last night at Buddy Echols Field..

Coppell (3-4, 3-3 in District 6-6A) started the scoring with junior kicker Nicolas Radicic’s 27- yard field goal with 4:07 left in the first quarter. Junior quarterback Jack Fishpaw’s 11-yard rushing touchdown gave the Cowboys a 10-0 lead to end the first quarter.

The Cowboys continued its offensive push with Fishpaw throwing a 64-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Charlie Barker with 7:17 left in the second quarter. A minute and 53 seconds later, Fishpaw hit junior wide receiver Zach Darkoch for an 80-yard touchdown pass to increase the Cowboys’ lead to 24-0.

Plano East (2-7, 1-5) was shut down by Coppell’s defense in the first half, punting on four of its six drives and missing a field goal on another. 

The second half, however, was a complete contrast for Coppell’s offense. 

Coppell sophomore wide receiver Luca Grolosi returned the open kickoff for 90 yards to Plano East’s six yard line but the Cowboys were unable to punch in a touchdown on the following four plays. 

“We came out of halftime unfocused,” Coppell offensive coordinator Jay Jones said. “We got the big return, had a chance to put them away and we didn’t. We let [the score] get to us because we were already up 24-0. At halftime, we told them ‘we have to finish, we have to finish, we have to finish’ and we just didn’t do it.”  

Plano East responded with a methodical 20-play, 97-yard drive to score senior running back Xavier Franco on a three-yard rushing touchdown.

The Cowboys could not answer on their ensuing possession, and Coppell was forced to punt after losing a yard on seven plays. The Cowboys were able to force a three-and-out from the Panthers soon after, however. With 7:24 left in the fourth quarter, Radicic’s 34-yard field goal gave the Cowboys a 27-7 lead.

Franco responded with a 71-yard run to the Cowboys’ one yard line and scored on a one-yard rushing touchdown to cut the deficit to 27-14 with six minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys were forced to punt again on the following drive with 4:15 left in the game. The Panthers put together a 26-play, 84-yard drive as junior quarterback Elijah Prince hit sophomore wide receiver for a six yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds left in the game. 

Fishpaw finished the night with 279 yards passing and three total touchdowns. Darkoch had 101 yards receiving and Barker chipped in an additional 83. Franco led the Panthers with 140 yards rushing and two touchdowns. 

The lack of execution has plagued the Cowboys throughout the season and it was seen throughout the second half this game. Ahead of a must-win contest against Flower Mound, the Cowboys will need to put the game away whenever they have the chance to.

“If we score [to open the second half], it’s probably a different outcome and a better second half,” Coppell coach Michael DeWitt said. “We have to be able to punch it in down there and we have to be able to respond. We can’t let them out of a hole. You can’t allow good teams to hang around, especially at this time of the year. You have to be able to finish; you have to finish drives, you have to finish plays, you have to finish quarters, finish halves, you have to finish games and that’s been the mindset all year.” 

Last night’s contest marked the home finale and senior night for the Cowboys.

“This has been a great four years,” Barker said. “I couldn’t ask for a better program to be at, it’s been so much fun. [This was my] last time coming out with this crew [at home] and it’s a brotherhood in there. It’s a great time whenever we’re out  here, whether it’s practice or a game, it’s been extremely fun. It’s going to really be missed.

Next week, Coppell travels to Neil E. Wilson Stadium to play Flower Mound, with kickoff at 7 p.m. The Cowboys and Jaguars are currently tied 3-3 for fourth place and the winner of this game will take the fourth and final spot in the playoffs. 

“It’s great, [one week left] and you control your own destiny,” DeWitt said. “The kids will be plenty motivated and we certainly have a lot to play for next week.”

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