Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Fourth-quarter surge propels Plano to 35-14 win over Irving MacArthur
IRVING — Plano hopes a fourth-quarter surge which led to a 35-14 victory Irving MacArthur on Thursday night at Irving Schools Stadium sets the tone for another strong Wildcats’ season. Plano’s three fourth-quarter touchdowns made a final look much less competitive than the Wildcats’ needing a MacArthur fumble to spark a tie-breaking possession in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t scream at halftime, we didn’t yell,” Plano coach Jaydon McCullough said. “we told them we were going to see what kind of character this team has. I’m proud of these guys. We might have had some false entitlement, thinking we’re pretty good, but we had to show we can come out and make the plays against a team as good as MacArthur.”
Plano senior running back Kevin Merrill stepped up for two of the biggest plays. Merrill’s 3-yard scoring run put Plano up, 21-14, with 11:39 left to cap a 69-yard drive. Merrill then turned a quick sideline toss into a 64-yard touchdown catch to put Plano up 28-14 with 8:14 remaining. Merrill’s 48-yard run set up Sam Morrell’s 7-yard touchdown run for a three-touchdown lead.
Merrill, who also kicked four extra points, rushed for 166 yards and caught four passes for 105 yards.
“We had to fight and scratch to get the upper hand,” Merrill said. “We had to persevere. It was good to see us do that as a team.”
MacArthur appeared to be driving for the go-ahead score late in the third quarter when junior quarterback Justin Chavez appeared to have converted on a fourth-down run and lost a fumble which Plano recovered. Plano, putting junior quarterback Richard Lagow under center and with two tight ends, used Merrill to take control.
Plano had opened a 14-0 lead in the first quarter with pass-oriented, methodical scoring drives on their first two possessions. Plano had 10 first downs in the first quarter to MacArthur’s one and two punts.
Plano led 7-0 with a score on its first possession with a 12-yard pass to Morrell from Lagow. Plano led 14-0 after Hunter Gore caught 19-yard pass from Lagow. The drive was kept alive by junior Anthony Antwine who made a 10-yard catch on a batted pass as Plano converted a fourth-and-10.
As Plano owned the first half, MacArthur took control in the second to tie the score, 14-14 at halftime. Sparked by junior running back Jourdan McNeill, who had 79 yards on six carries in the two scoring drives. Senior receiver Sergio Torres caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Chavez. McNeill scored on a 20-yard run for MacArthur’s second score.