McKINNEY (Sept. 4, 2015) — Hello, win-column! McKinney's six-game losing streak is over.

The Lions (1-1) outlasted the Frisco Liberty Redhawks, 35-34, on Friday in a wild one at Ron Poe Stadium. With 37 seconds left, McKinney's defense stuffed Liberty quarterback Grant Buss’s 2-point-conversion rushing try at the goal line to preserve the Lions’ win.

“It feels great, man,” said McKinney coach Jeff Smith. “It’s always a blessing to win. These kids deserve it, they work so hard. It’s good that they can experience that feeling of winning and staying with something when it’s not going your way sometimes.”

Walker Torrain and Matt Gadek gouged the Redhawks for a combined 393 yards rushing, as McKinney’s undersized offensive line repeatedly opened wide lanes for the pair.

“It was a whole team effort tonight,” said Torrain, who finished with 188 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. “The O-line was blocking phenomenally. … We just kept fighting, we kept fighting. That’s what we do as Lions.”

Gadek tallied a team-high 205 yards on 19 carries with three touchdowns. “It starts up front,” Smith said, referring to Aidan Mulligan, Chane Falls, Caleb Stricklin, Jett Carson and Zach Rupe. “They really came off and were physical tonight. That’s what we challenged them with all week. And we’ve got a few backs that will get after it. They don’t just run the ball well, they block for each other as well. I’m very proud of those two [Torrain and Gadek] – and the offensive line, for sure.”

Liberty running Dimitri Jones gouged plenty himself, rolling to a game-high 234 yards and two TDs behind monster-sized Redhawks offensive line. “There were some big ol’ 300-pound guys in there and we don’t match up, physically, very well,” Smith said. “So we had to get our pads down and play with great pad-level.”

With the game tied, 28-28, midway through the fourth quarter, McKinney drove 93 yards in eight plays to take the lead. Gadek’s 10-yard TD scamper capped that series after a key Joseph Robinson 19-yard reception on third-and-8 kept the drive alive.

Liberty (0-2) came right back as the clock wound down, moving 71 yards in 10 plays – the biggest chunk coming on a 31-yard pass to big Reggie Chaney down to McKinney’s 16-yard-line. Buss scored from 3 yards out, and the Redhawks opted to go for the win. The ensuing onside kick attempt was handled by McKinney’s Seth Hunter and the Lions ran out the clock.

McKinney led 14-0 midway through the second quarter when Liberty got on the board with a Jones 5-yard TD run. McKinney stormed back three plays later when Torrain burst 34 yards up the middle for a touchdown, with a Redhawks player right on his heels. “It came out of nowhere,” he said of his extra gear. “I didn’t want to get caught. I felt pressure coming from behind me so I just kept running.”

Liberty cut the lead to 21-14 just 21 seconds before halftime, with Jones carrying seven times on the 10-play drive.

Disaster struck for McKinney in the third quarter when a Redhawks punt bounced off a McKinney player’s back and was recovered by Liberty at the Lions’ 19. Three plays later, Buss found Chris McPhaul for a 17-yard touchdown pass to tie the game, 21-21.

A Gadek 19-yard scoring sprint gave McKinney the lead again on its next possession, and Jones followed suit for Liberty with 28-yard touchdown run to tie things up again with 1:26 left in the third quarter.

Sophomore Damon Witmer handled quarterback duties for McKinney, completing 4-of-5 passes for 55 yards with no interceptions, and rushing eight times for 45 yards. Liberty’s Buss rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another, completing 11-of-21 passes for 126 yards, with no picks.

“We’ve still got a lot of room for improvement,” Smith said. “We’ve got to tackle better. But I’m proud of the way they finished the game off with a stop.”

McKinney travels to face Carrollton Newman Smith (0-2) on Friday, Sept 11.


About the author: Rick Atkinson is a McKinney-based freelance writer and cartoonist. He has covered McKinney high school football for for the last three seasons. You can reach him via email at


Go to the next page for the scoring summary



Scoring summary

Frisco Liberty 0 14 14 6 —   34
McKinney 7 14 7 7 —   35


McK – Walker Torrain 3 run (Michael Shipley kick), 6:53


McK – Matt Gadek 2 run (Gavin Baechle kick), 6:54

Lib – Dimitri Jones 5 run (Rob Rever kick), 4:20

McK – Walker Torrain 34 run (Michael Shipley kick), 3:39

Lib – Grant Buss 2 run (Rob Rever kick), 0:21


Lib – Chris McPhaul 17 pass from Grant Buss (Rob Rever), 6:00

McK – Matt Gadek 19 run (Gavin Baechle kick), 4:29

Lib – Dimitri Jones 28 run (Rob Rever kick), 1:26


McK – Matt Gadek 10 run (Michael Shipley kick), 5:30

Lib – Grant Buss 3 run (run failed), 0:37

Team statistics Liberty McKinney
First downs 22 24
Rushes-yards 50-282 47-438
Passing yards 126 71
Completions-Attempts-Interceptions 11-20-0 5-6-0
Punts-average 4-40.2 1-40
Penalties-yards 6-55 7-75
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1


Rushing — Liberty: Dimitri Jones 35-234, Grant Buss 11-25, Chris McPhaul 4-23. McKinney: Walker Torrain 20-188, Matt Gadek 19-205, Damon Witmer 8-45.

Passing — Liberty: Grant Buss 12-21-0-126. McKinney: Damon Witmer 4-5-0-55, Tyree Johnson 1-1-0-16.

Receiving — Liberty: Reggie Chaney 2-45, Sean Ferry 3-11, Jordan Jones 1-10, Chris McPhaul 5-55, Zac Watson 1-5. McKinney: Matt Gadek 2-36, Joseph Robinson 2-26, Dominic St. Leon 1-9.