McKinney hands Sulphur Springs first loss of season
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Sept. 2, 2006 - McKINNEY - McKinney's Eddie Morgan stole the show in the first half Friday night. His teammates brought down the curtain in the second half.

Morgan, one of the top kick returners and defensive backs in the state, made a memorable debut as running back as well, scoring two touchdowns in the Lions' 32-7 victory over Sulphur Springs.

The 6-1, 185-pound senior had 100 yards rushing on eight carries and returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown - all in the first half. He emerged from halftime without his shoulder pads and helmet after suffering a shoulder stinger.

But, even without their top player, the Lions added two more touchdowns in the second half to put the game away.

Sulphur Springs, in head coach Greg Owens' first game, managed to generated 258 yards of offense but suffered three turnovers. 

Junior quarterback Brittan Diamond was the team's leading rusher and passer. He ran 14 times for 64 yards, including the team's only TD, and completed 11-of-24 passes for 122 yards. Sophomore Tyrick Rollison went 3-of-12 for 55 yards.

SSHS running backs Jeff Pitts and Tarron Wright combined to carry the ball just four times for 18 yards.

The defense, meanwhile, came up with a pair of turnovers themselves but allowed 362 yards of total offense.

Over half of the players on the Wildcat roster were playing in the their first varsity game, and it showed at times.

"We came out big-eyed a little bit," said Owens. "We hit them a little bit, but didn't make tackles when we had chances on defense. Offensively, we just sputtered all night, and turnovers made a big difference. They broke our back really.

"It's not the end of the season. It's the first step and now we can evaluate this film and hopefully we can learn from it and find out what kind of character we have on this team."

If anything, the game was a series of missed opportunities for the Wildcats. Defensively, Sulphur Springs had McKinney in third-and-long on both of their first two touchdown drives, but the Lions converted, and three times the McKinney quarterback fumbled the shotgun snap but gained positive yards each time. Offensively, the Wildcats threw an interception in the end zone in the first quarter, lost a fumble on the first play of the second half and had a 40-yard gain nullified in the fourth quarter due to a penalty.

For the Wildcats and their fans, it was just one of those nights.

"We were climbing up hill all night. It was just tough," Owens said. "There was a lot of big eyes out there and some inexperience - not making excuses, though, because we didn't play well."

McKinney was also green at some positions, but not at quarterback and Zane Allcorn proved to be a vital cog in the Lions' offense. He completed 10-of-15 passes for 161 yards and one touchdown and ran 14 times for 28 yards.

McKinney took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards in nine plays. Allcorn ran a quarterback draw for 13 yards on third-and-5 from the 30, and then Morgan ripped off a 37-yard run to get the ball inside the 5. Allcorn capped the drive with a 3-yard run after he fumbled the snap, and the Lions were up, 6-0.

After a series of punts, Sulphur Springs took the ball over on their own 13-yard line and drove down to the McKinney 4 behind crisp passing from Diamond, who completed six consecutive passes, four of them to Tyler Rhoades for 44 yards. A 15-yard screen to Pitts took the ball down to the 4-yard line and ended the third quarter.

But, the Wildcats were penalized for delay of game coming out of the quarter exchange and two plays later McKinney's Calvin Maxwell grabbed an interception in the end zone to kill the drive.

Twice the Wildcats were hit with delay of game penalties when they had the ball inside the 5-yard line.

"Little bitty things, I'm pretty frustrated with some of that stuff. Again, some of that is youth and inexperience, but from the kicking game to offense and defense, the whole nine yards - we've got to do a better job," Owens said. "We've got to be a little smarter."

McKinney took over on its own 20 following the interception and Morgan ran 51 yards. Still, it looked like the Wildcat defense would hold after a sack by Rodney Evans and Josh Dunn set up a third-and-10 from the 29. But, Allcorn found tight end Greg Miller in the flat and he turned it up for a 21-yard gain to set up Morgan's 8-yard TD run with three minutes gone in the second quarter. That gave McKinney a 12-0 lead.

But, it wouldn't stay that way for long. Four minutes later, Morgan settled under a Wildcat punt at his own 19, juked out one would-be tackler, stiff-armed another to the ground and then raced 81 yards for a back-breaking TD. Michael Widener's extra point gave McKinney a 19-0 lead.

The Wildcat defense made a stand on McKinney's next series to set up Sulphur Springs' TD. After a three-and-out inside their own 30-yard line, McKinney lined up for a punt, but the ball sailed over the punter's head and Sulphur Springs' Tanner Higgins recovered it at the 1-yard line.

Two plays later, Diamond surged ahead behind the middle of the Wildcat offensive line to get into the end zone. Jon Holt's extra point cut the deficit to 19-7 with 1:56 to play in the half.

The Wildcats received the kcikoff to start the second half, but on the first play, McKinney recovered a fumble. The Wildcat defense behind Dunn (who had a team-high 14 tackles) and defensive end Tyler Francis (seven tackles) forced McKinney to miss a field goal, but the Wildcats' momentum entering halftime had dissolved.

"We got down here to the goal line and force an interception right there," Owens said, recounting the turnovers. "Then, we come out in the second half and look like we're getting things figured out just a little bit and settling down, and then the wheels fell off again.

"They're a decent ball club but they're not a dominant ball club, and that's what happens when you don't play well. We had a chance to make plays and we didn't make them."

The Lions went on to add two more TDs in the fourth quarter, on a 2-yard run by Allcorn and a 15-yard pass from Allcorn to Rephan.

The SS defense, meanwhile, came up with another turnover when safety Kaylon Page recovered a fumble.

The Wildcats have to get ready now for Whitehouse in their home opener on Friday. Whitehouse played Forney today in both team's season debuts.

"We'll have to bounce back, come back hard next week and get after it," Owens said. "Whitehouse is pretty good, so we've got to come ready to play. They're not going to take it easy on us just because we got our tail kicked tonight."


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