FLOWER MOUND – A poor snap, muffed punt and a lost fumble led to a 21-point swing Friday and an onside kick skipped over the sideline just before Plano could make a play on it as Marcus held on to defeat Plano, 35-32, at Marauders Stadium.
Plano (4-3, 1-3 in 8-5A) will have plenty of ground to make up in its final four games, but a win would have put it in a four-way tie for third place with the final three games at John Clark Stadium.
Marcus (6-1, 3-1) turned the three Plano miscues into a 21-7 advantage with 5:09 left in the third quarter and Plano was in catchup mode the rest of the night.
It had closed the lead to a field goal, 28-25, on a 24-yard Murat Kuzu touchdown pass from Connor Michelsen and a Brandon Hamilton pass reception on the conversion. Chris Moore’s onside kick was nearly perfect. He struck it upfield and toward the Plano sideline and Plano had position on the bobbling ball. It rolled and flipped, but came to a rest on the sideline about 9-and-a-half yards downfield. Two Plano players were in position to make a play on the ball had it gone 10 yards. Marcus scored in four plays and though Plano answered it couldn’t get a break on a second onside kick attempt that sealed the loss.
The things that have made Plano successful mostly happened outside of the three mishaps. Brandon Hamilton had consecutive 100-yard receiving games, Michelson broke 250 yards passing going to seven different receivers and Kevin Merrill broke 100 yards rushing and 150 offensive yards.
But mistakes dug a hole from which the team couldn’t respond. The poor snap led to a Marcus touchdown with 24 seconds left in the first half that resulted in a 7-7 halftime tie. The muffed punt extended Marcus’ opening drive of the second half that resulted seven plays later in a touchdown run. Four plays into the first Plano possession of the second half a fumble turned into another touchdown.
Then Plano responded. Merrill scored on a 4-yard toss off left tackle to cut the 21-7 lead in half. Xavier Harbert’s fumble recovery resulted in a 22-yard Moore field goal that trimmed the lead to 21-17 with 11:06 left.
But, Plano couldn’t get the stop it needed in the fourth quarter to pull ahead.
Dagan Newsome, in his third year at running back for Marcus, scored on a 7-yard run to put Marcus up, 28-17, with 8:16 left. Plano answered two drives later when Steele Hoetger caught a fourth-down pass for 35 yards and Michelsen hit Kuzu on a 24-yard strike to trim the margin to a field goal, 28-25, with 2:53 left.
When the first onside kick rolled out of bounds, Marcus had another short field and scored in four plays to go up, 35-25, with 2:01 left. Still, Plano wasn’t done. A 49-yard pass completion to Hamilton on fourth down set up a 14-yard touchdown pass to Hoetger to cut the lead to 35-32 with 1:09 left. But the second onside kick never seemed to have a chance and Marcus survived.
Plano is left needing to win out to have a chance at returning to the playoffs for the fourth straight year. It has Lewisville at home Friday. Then it plays crosstown games against Plano East and Plano West, also at John Clark Stadium, to close the regular season. The loss Friday has Plano a game back of Plano East, tied with Lewisville and a game up on Plano West in district play.
FM Marcus 35, Plano 32