Lion tamers: Allen cruises past McKinney after close first half
A football team can't do much if it doesn't protect the ball.
McKinney learned this the hard way, plagued by costly turnovers early in a 67-14 loss to Allen Friday from Ron Poe Stadium.
"It was a tight game. [McKinney] has got a great offense that can move the ball up and down the field, but our defense stepped up and played real well," said Tom Westerberg, Allen head coach. "We gave up quite a few yards in the first half, but buckled down in the second half."
The Lions played the Eagles close for most of the first half, but Allen's roster depth and skill found its rhythm late in the second quarter, coasting the rest of the way.
"We kind of shot ourselves in the foot a lot of times early," said Jeff Smith, McKinney head coach. "We didn't capitalize and that was hard on us, we could've used those points, but we weren't able to do it because of turnovers and bad snaps, those kinds of things."
McKinney falls to 5-4 on the season and 1-3 in District 10-5A with the loss on its Senior Night while district leader Allen improves to 8-1 on the year and 4-0 in district. Allen clinched the district title with the win, while McKinney's postseason hopes remain alive even with the loss.
The Lions moved downfield quickly on their opening drive before a fumble at the Eagles' 35-yard line gave Allen its first possession.
The Eagles capitalized off the Lions turnover, as a few plays later sophomore quarterback Kyler Murray saw an open space and took off for the 18-yard touchdown run, giving Allen an 8-0 lead after a successful two-point conversion.
On their next drive, Murray would connect with junior Kendall Clinton for a 21-yard completion that gave the Eagles a first and goal from the four. Murray ran in a 1-yard score two plays later to expand the Eagles lead to 15-0 late in the first quarter.
Murray finished the night 12-of-16, passing for 224 yards and two touchdowns to one interception, in addition to running for two scores.
"He can go with just about anything teams throw at him," Westerberg said. "It's a lot of fun for an offense to have a dual-threat quarterback like that."
The Lions were struggling before quarterback Robert Somborn found Connor Fuentes for 39 yards on a play action. Two plays later Somborn again found Fuentes for 23 yards for a first and goal from the three.
Somborn finished the night 16-of-31 for 252 yards and two touchdowns to one interception.
The Lions, however, would turn it over again, this time on second-and-goal from the four. A poor snap from under center sailed over Somborn's head, which Allen recovered for the turnover.
The Lions' defense would force a third-and-10 from their own 20, which saw Murray promptly thrown an interception to McKinney cornerback Jumaane Ross-Brown, preventing the Eagles from reaching the end zone for a third time. The Lions, however, would do little with the new possession, resulting in a punt that gave Allen the ball at midfield.
It would take the Eagles only two plays before senior running back Marcus Ward ran in a largely untouched 30-yard score, 22-0 Allen. It was the first of two long touchdown runs for Ward.
"He's playing really well, getting better every week," Westerberg said.
Somborn and company weren't ready to give in, as he quickly found T.V. Williams for a 58-yard score shortly after Ward's run, cutting Allen's lead to 22-7 midway through the second quarter.
"I was proud of how well our kids fought," Smith said. "Our kids battled and I'm proud of their effort."
On Allen's next possession, Ward would pick up right where he left off, taking in a bruising 22-yard run past the goal line for the 29-7 Eagles lead. Murray and his Allen teammates continued to assert their might with a 37-yard touchdown pass to junior Cole Carter, 36-7 Eagles.
The Lions would answer with a 15-yard touchdown reception brought down by Fuentes in the waning seconds.
With less than 20 seconds left on the clock, Eagles junior running back Jaelen Barlow, however, would bust through for a spectacular 63-yard run, as Allen got back the points they'd just given up for the 43-14 halftime lead.
The Eagles came out of the half even stronger, taking just 11 seconds off the clock on a three-play drive as Murray and senior receiver Cameron Calcote teamed up for a 35-yard score, 50-14 Allen. The rout continued as Allen would rest several starters at various points, including Murray early in the third quarter.
The Eagles would continue to pad their lead on short touchdown runs by senior Oliver Pierce and junior Ryan Hoogerwerf, with a 19-yard field goal by junior Carlos Arochi sandwiched in-between for the 67-14 final.
Allen wraps up its regular season at home against Plano Senior at 7:30 p.m. on Friday while McKinney will finish out on the road against cross-town rival McKinney Boyd, also at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"As far as playoffs go, they're still in play for us," Smith said. "Next week's a big game with a lot of playoff implications, so I'm excited that we're talking about playoffs with the McKinney Lions. We got a lot of work to do; Boyd's a good football team, but we'll be ready."