Plano East junior Brandon Mallory totaled five touchdowns in Friday’s 45-41 win over Plano West.
MURPHY- In a rivalry game that was slated to bring out the best in both squads, Plano West failed to put the ball in the end zone with a Hail Mary pass that fell incomplete in the final seconds of play, preserving Plano East’s 45-41 win over the Wolves Friday night at Kimbrough Stadium.
Junior quarterback Brandon Mallory rushed for his third touchdown and senior Blair Zepeda knocked down a 48-yard field goal attempt that gave the Panthers an 11-point lead with 4:20 remaining in the fourth quarter, 45-34, but West answered with senior Jake Sweeney’s third rushing touchdown on an eight-play, 75-yard drive that pulled the Wolves within four points in the closing minutes.
East was forced to punt the ball, and the Wolves (0-8, 0-5 District 6-6A) weren’t able to complete the long pass that inevitably would’ve given them the win.
“I’m really proud of the way my guys prepared this week, and I thought this was one of our best weeks of work,” said Scott Smith, West head coach. “From a game standpoint, I couldn’t be more proud of this group of guys and how they fought their tails off and it came down to us having an opportunity and we just couldn’t finish and put the ball in the end zone. We went through some adversity and got banged up tonight, but the kids just kept fighting and fighting and I couldn’t be more proud of them tonight.”
For East, the win moves them to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in District 6-6A play. Next week, they have a meeting with Allen, who remained unbeaten after a 49-14 rout over McKinney earlier in the night.
“We made some adjustments at halftime after having trouble stopping them and my hats go off to Plano West and their staff for the way they came out and played tonight,” said Joey McCullough, East head coach. “That’s what happens when you get an inter-city rival like this because anything can happen. We have to get some things cleaned up, but I like how we played better in the second half after missing a lot of tackles. It was ugly, but we got the win and that’s all that matters.”
McCullough referred to the outcome as “ugly,” seeing the fact that the two teams combined for three turnovers in less than two minutes in the fourth quarter. Wolves senior running back Da’Vonte Carline fumbled the ball as West was moving down the field and then East returned the favor coughing up the ball two plays later giving the ball right back to West. Then, a flea flicker was called that resulted in an interception by East junior defensive back Zachary Nwachukwu.
Neither team turned the ball over in the first half of the contest.
The Wolves had their best offensive output all season long, scoring 28 points in the first half and finishing the game with 455 total yards. They were led by scores from Sweeney and Carline, who combined for 332 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the night after struggling to find their offensive flow this season.
“I think we all knew we had this potential all season long,” Sweeney said. “We always say positive or negative we have to move on to the next play. I’ve been playing with Carline since the sixth grade and we play real well together, but we just didn’t execute a few key plays that would’ve given us the win.”
On the other side, Mallory was the spark for the Panthers with five total touchdowns (three rushing and two passing). He completed 18-of-26 passes for 260 yards without an interception, connecting on a 7-yard score with Sam Moore and a 32-yarder to Deonte Johnson for his first receiving touchdown on the year.
Senior running back Trey Hunter, who has filled in the gap for the absence of Jonathan Meadors’ season-ending injury, had 18 carries for 92 yards and a score.
“Mallory is playing better and he’s getting better every day,” McCullough said. “Hunter has been out with ankle injuries and we have two senior offensive linemen in Tyler Barna and Trey Hempstead who are injured, it’s all about the next guy up and we have to keep preparing for the next week.”
Meanwhile, Smith and his leaders will continue to challenge his team to set the stage for next week, as West faces another inter-city foe in Plano Senior at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Clark Stadium, followed by a matchup against Denton Guyer to close out the season.