Written by Matt Wixon
4th-quarter TD drive helps Skyline put away Plano, 28-14
GRAND PRAIRIE — Nearly two months had passed since Skyline was in a game decided by less than four touchdowns. For the Raiders, halftime was usually the finish line, followed by a victory lap in cruise control.
On Friday, Skyline needed to step on the gas in the fourth quarter. The Raiders did it with a gut-check touchdown drive that finally put away Plano, 28-14, in a Class 5A Division I bidistrict game at the Gopher-Warrior Bowl.
“It’s hard when you have such blowouts,” Skyline coach Reginald Samples said. “You really have to regroup and change your way of thinking. And we knew Plano was a good team.”
Skyline (10-1) hopes to be a great team, and the Raiders will have a chance to make a statement when they play Sachse (11-0) at 4:30 p.m. next Saturday at the Cotton Bowl. Skyline, No. 6 in the 5A area rankings, will be trying to advance at least three rounds in the playoffs for the third straight year.
When Skyline took a 21-7 lead on the second play of the third quarter, it looked like the Raiders might pull away from No. 17 Plano (7-4). But Plano pulled within 21-14 with 21 seconds left in the third quarter after a 12-play, five-minute drive finished with David Griffith’s 4-yard touchdown.
After forcing a Skyline punt, Plano had the ball back with a chance to tie. But after Skyline forced a punt, Skyline got its chance to show that it’s ready for a tough matchup.
Skyline drove 64 yards for a touchdown and drained more than four minutes off the clock. The key play came when quarterback Sederian Copeland escaped the rush on third-and-7 and threw a 38-yard pass to Jordan Neely for a first down.
“I always keep my eyes upfield,” said Copeland, who finished with 193 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also rushed for Skyline’s last score.
Skyline’s Antonio Greer then intercepted a pass to end Plano’s next possession, and the Raiders finally could feel confident.
“We just rely on staying calm,” Samples said, “and Sederian really knows how to make plays.”
Plano’s opening drive was like a highlight from the program’s glory years, with a steady dose of runs behind a strong offensive line. Plano mixed in pass plays of 21 and 18 yards and converted five third downs during a 15-play drive that ended with running back T.J. Lee squirting through the middle for a 4-yard touchdown.
The drive ate up nearly eight minutes of the 12-minute first quarter.
Two of Plano’s next three drives, however, ended in lost fumbles, including one that Skyline defensive back Derrick Dixon recovered at the Plano 29-yard line. Skyline turned that turnover into a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter, when Copeland connected with Daleon Ward for a 10-yard score to give Skyline a 14-7 lead.
It looked like Skyline was on its way, but Plano didn’t make it easy.
That, however, might be better for Skyline in the long run. And the Raiders hope it’s a long run.
“This is just the beginning,” Copeland said.
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon.