In one moment Plano put the early touches on a victory Friday to keep it in playoff contention and the very next a rare moment in program history took place.
Some of the most loyal football fans in all of the state were momentarily distracted as it was announced the Texas Rangers had won their first American League pennant.
Plano (5-3, 2-3 in District 8-5A) extended its season by defeating Lewisville, 43-21, at John Clark Stadium in front of a capacity homecoming crowd that found a way to enjoy a highlight moment in North Texas sports history and at the same time revel in a meaningful Wildcats victory. Now victories over Plano East and Plano West seem to be all that stands between Plano and a fourth straight playoff appearance.
They waited out a 39-minute weather delay and Plano awarded their fans’ loyalty with a victory. Murat Kuzu turned in his second 100-yard rushing game of the season, compiled 201 all-purpose yards and scored a pair of touchdowns before the weather break. Connor Michelsen led the team out of the delay by passing for 196 yards and two scores to go along with two rushing touchdowns.
But, as has been the trend at home this season, Plano used a big defensive play to break the game wide open. Linebacker Kent Bateman broke on a ball fluttering to him in the secondary, hauled in an interception and sprinted up the right sideline on an 89-yard touchdown return with 10:07 left to play to give Plano a 36-14 lead.
Lewisville had in one moment been attempting to potentially trim Plano’s margin to a single score and the next found itself down three scores.
Michelsen twice found Brandon Hamilton on big pass plays on the next drive to put the final touches on the victory. He hit the senior on a 37-yard completion to move inside the Lewisville 20. Michelsen converted a fourth down and three plays later hit Hamilton on a 7-yard touchdown pass, marking the senior quarterback’s 24th all-purpose touchdown of the season.
Lewisville had trimmed the deficit to a single score late in the first half, but the longest Plano drive of the season opened the second half. In what may have led some of the old Plano fans to reminisce of power offense days of yesteryear, the team drove 80 yards in 14 plays in 7:01 with only three plays going for more than 7 yards and Michelsen capped the drive with a 1-yard quarterback keeper.
Plano pounced on Lewisville in the first half. It got a defensive stop resulting from a Ben Laures sack of Lewisville’s quarterback and the offense responded with an 11-play, 95-yard drive mixing key passes early in the drive to Steele Hoetger with a pair of big runs late in the drive by Kuzu, including his 19-yard touchdown score.
Taylor May led the defense to a stop on the successive drive. He opened the series with a pressure to force an incompletion and forced a punt when he teamed with Bobby Geibler on a sack. The offense responded with a quick score courtesy of more game-breaking plays from Kuzu. He broke a 22-yard run to the Plano 41 and two plays later scored on a 55-yard pass completion from Michelsen, a score most noted for the blowup downfield block by Skyler Purcell.
But, the weather was threatening. Each time it began to rain, Lewisville seemed to gain some momentum. A heavy, but brief downpour came and the very next play resulted in a Lewisville touchdown that cut the margin to 15-7 with 8:59 left in the first half. It started to rain again after the delay in play and Lewisville scored with 1:24 left in the first half that trimmed Plano’s lead to 22-14 at halftime.
But the skies cleared in the second half and Plano pulled away.
Plano 43, Lewisville 21
Rushing — L: Roderick Williams 16-71, Brandon Udechukwu 3-59, Israel Smallwood 4-29, DeAndre Grimes 6-(minus-26). P: Murat Kuzu 20-142, Connor Michelsen 10-17, Rakeem Crawford 5-4, Clayton Parlin 1-(-5).
Passing — L: DeAndre Grimes 21-38-2, 248 yards. P: Connor Michelsen 13-26-2, 196 yards.
Receiving — L: Carl Lee 6-101,Brandon Udechukwu 5-50, Darren Harroff 4-42, Quay Bradford 3-32,Humberto Ortega 2-15, Josh Turner 1-8. P: Steele Hoetger 4-64, Murat Kuzu 2-59, Brandon Hamilton 6-59, Clayton Parlin 1-14.