DALLAS (Nov. 29, 2014) — The McKinney North Bulldogs just keep making history.

With Saturday’s 56-42 win over Mansfield Lake Ridge’s Eagles in a Class 5A Division I Region II semifinal match, the Bulldogs notched their first-ever 11-win season and assured their deepest playoff run in school history.

North quarterback Nick Hutchins put up a game-high 201 yards rushing with three touchdowns and threw for 210 yards, including two TD tosses to Kirvin Parks. Super-back Ronald Jones, held in check much of game, still tallied 124 yards on the ground, with three rushing scores.

Tied at 42 with less than five minutes left to play, the Bulldogs pulled away with two unanswered touchdowns and big defensive stops to secure victory. So what did this one come down to for North? “Just belief,” Bulldogs head coach Mike Fecci said. “Just guts, determination, belief and desire. It’s a great tribute to a great group of men.”

McKinney North quarterback Nick Hutchins (left) sheds an Eagle tackler in the first half.

Photo by Rog Pachuta / BuzzzPhotos.com

North quarterback Nick Hutchins (left) sheds an Eagle tackler in the first half.

 

Kincaide Stadium, site of this latest thrilling Bulldogs chapter, is where North’s season ended last year on a wet, brutally cold night in Week 2 of the playoffs. “I remember being out here in the cold and feeling real sad,” North linebacker Khalil Lewis said. “The sides are reversed.”

North (11-2) will face Tyler John Tyler (11-2) in the Region II finals at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Denton’s Apogee Stadium, home of the University of North Texas Mean Green football.

Hutchins found success Saturday faking hand-offs to Jones, then cutting back to empty space as the defense moved laterally to meet Jones. “They obviously were keying on Ronald,” Hutchins said, “so they would slant the defensive line away from him. … It was just really open in there.”

Several times after contact, Hutchins moved defender-piles for extra yardage, once near the Eagles’ goal-line in the second half as Bulldogs fans roared. “They were doing a little trash-talking,” he said, “so I just was trying to play as hard as I could.”

“He’s a gamer,” Fecci said of Hutchins’ bulldozing. “I can’t explain that. He’s everything you want in a quarterback and more. He put the game on his back and took care of it.” Hutchins scored on runs of 60, 26 and 3 yards. His 60-yarder tied the game at 21-all midway through the second quarter.

 

 

Lake Ridge (8-5) had its own scorching runners. Quarterback Jett Duffey charged for 158 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries, with a 74-yard TD burst on the Eagles’ first play from scrimmage. Duke Carter added 157 yards on 17 carries, including a 64-yard scoring dash for Lake Ridge’s second touchdown.

McKinney North's Ronald Jones (24) follows the blocks of Gage Thomason (75) and Perry Radway (61) in Saturday’s win over Mansfield Lake Ridge.

Photo by Rog Pachuta / BuzzzPhotos.com

North's Ronald Jones (24) follows the blocks of Gage Thomason (75) and Perry Radway (61) in Saturday’s win over Lake Ridge.

 

“McKinney North is great team and Coach Fecci does a great job,” Eagles head coach Kirk Thor said. “[They’re a] big physical team that ran at us. I was proud of our kids for playing hard and getting this far in Year 3 [of our program.] They kept fighting, they never quit.”

Tied at halftime, 28-28, North drove 77 yards in seven plays for a TD on its first second-half possession. Jones got the capper from two yards out. After Bulldog defender McShane Wyatt stopped Carter short of a first down in the open field on 4th-and-17, North took over on its own 36. Nine plays later, Jones collected another short-yardage TD and the Bulldogs led, 42-28, with 2:05 left in the third quarter.

Lake Ridge fought back. After a 57-yard touchdown run by Duffey, Gerard McClain ripped off a 72-yard run to North’s 8-yard-line. Two plays later, Duffey’s 3-yard run and a point-after kick tied the game at 42.

North responded with a clutch six-play, 68-yard drive ending in Hutchins’ 3-yard TD run. The key play on the go-ahead march was Hutchins’ 46-yard pass to Brennan Harris, the game’s leading receiver with four catches for 93 yards. (Parks finished with four catches for 85 yards.)

Up now, 49-42, with four minutes left, North defensive end Noah Forte fell on a loose ball at the Lake Ridge 42-yard-line. Five snaps later Jones scampered in for a game-clinching touchdown from 14 yards out. It’s the second time in three playoff games that Forte has nabbed a late fumble. “Right place, right time,” Lewis grinned. A Lewis interception ended the Eagles’ next possession.

McKinney North's Brennan Harris (11), the game’s leading receiver, fights for yards after a catch. Kirvin Parks (10) had two TD receptions for North.

Photo by Rog Pachuta / BuzzzPhotos.com

Bulldog Brennan Harris (11), the game’s leading receiver, fights for yards after a catch. Kirvin Parks (10) had two TD receptions for North.

 

“We were telling ourselves we’ve really got to come out with tenacious effort and just be relentless to the ball,” North cornerback Anthony Grogan said. “That’s why we got a couple of turnovers toward the end.”

Jones’ tough yards came on 31 carries against another defense designed to shut him down. Seven of his first 11 carries were for 1 yard or less and his longest run of the game was 16 yards. But Jones’ hammering eventually prevailed, with his three second-half scores. “He earned every bit of it,” Fecci said. “He gave us consistency, pounding the ball downhill. That’s a very good defense we played. It brings a lot of people. … That last touchdown he scored, that’s why he is who he is.”

Lewis said Bulldog defenders were confident in their offense’s ability to put up points. “We just had to make the game close enough so they could win it for us,” he said. “The defense came together and we realized that had to play better than we were playing,” he added. “I think everybody felt that sense of urgency and we got it done.”

So 2014 Bulldog history marches on.

 “Hopefully,” Grogan said, “we can make it all the way and make history that can’t be topped.”

 

About the author: Rick Atkinson is a McKinney-based freelance writer and cartoonist. He has covered McKinney high school football for McKinneyOnline.com for the last two seasons.

 

Go to the next page for the scoring summary from the game.

 

 

Scoring summary

McKinney North (MN) 6 22 14 14 —   56
Mansfield Lake Ridge (LR) 14 14 7 7 —   42

First quarter

LR – Jett Duffey 74 run (Julio Olvera kick), 10:13

MN – Kirvin Parks 24 pass from Nick Hutchins (kick failed), 2:17

LR – Duke Carter 64 run (Julio Olvera kick), 2:00

Second quarter

MN – Nick Hutchins 26 run (Kirvin Parks pass from Nick Hutchins), 11:24

LR – Zachari Jackson 22 pass from Jett Duffey (Julio Olvera kick), 7:56

MN – Nick Hutchins 60 run (Chase Carraher kick), 6:34

MN – Kirvin Parks 36 pass from Nick Hutchins (Chase Carraher kick), 4:13

LR – Jett Duffey 1 run (Julio Olvera kick), 0:19

Third quarter

MN – Ronald Jones 2 run (Chase Carraher kick), 8:38

MN – Ronald Jones 2 run (Chase Carraher kick), 2:05

LR – Jett Duffey 57 run (Julio Olvera kick), 1:00

Fourth quarter

LR – Jett Duffey 3 run (Julio Olvera kick), 6:57

MN – Nick Hutchins 3 run (Chase Carraher kick), 4:28

MN – Ronald Jones 14 run (Chase Carraher kick), 1:51

Team statistics MN LR
First downs 27 19
Rushing-yards 57-325 38-392
Passing yards 210 203
Completions-Attempts-Interceptions 12-19-2 16-27-1
Punts-average 4-33 3-24
Penalties-yards 10-100 7-66
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-1

Individual statistics

Rushing – MN: Nick Hutchins 26-201, Ronald Jones 31-124. LR: Duke Carter 17-157, Jett Duffey 18-158, Gerard McClain 3-77.

Passing – MN: Nick Hutchins 12-19-2-210. LR: Jett Duffey 16-27-1-203.

Receiving – MN: Brennan Harris 4-93, Kirvin Parks 4-85, Ronald Jones 1-4, Gabe Constantine 1-12, Miguel Hudson 1-5. LR: Isaiah Jones 2-47, Duke Carter 2-6, Tyler Robinson 1-11, Jimmy Enobabor 6-80, Zachari Jackson 3-43, Jabari Ford 1-5, Semaj Mitchell 1-11.