COPPELL – All the things it was supposed to take to get Plano to the area playoffs for the fourth straight season happened Saturday.
One of the area’s best running backs was held to 61 yards and his quarterback was held under 200 yards passing. But, three second-half takeaways was enough to help lift Coppell past Plano, 23-6, at Cowboy Stadium in a bi-district playoff game.
Plano (7-4) bowed out of the playoffs in the first round for the first time since 1999. Coppell (11-0) advances to meet Duncanville (8-3) in an area playoff at 8 p.m. Nov. 20 at Arlington’s Cowboys Stadium.
The first two possessions of the second half and some key stops late in the game helped Coppell past Plano. Joe Minden scored on a 2-yard keeper with 8:38 left in the third quarter to put Coppell up, 14-3, with 8:38 left. A freak fumble on the ensuing kickoff bounded through the air and straight to a Coppell defender. Cam McDaniel scored on a 10-yard run three plays later and Coppell had a 20-3 lead with 7:37 left in the third quarter.
But, the game was far from decided. Plano responded with an 11-play, 75 yard drive that ended in a 24-yard field goal conversion by Chris Moore to cut the lead to 20-6 with 11:48 left to play. Facing a fourth-and-goal from the Coppell 6, Plano could have gone for the touchdown to narrow the margin to 10 points but chose the field goal. Either way, it was going to face a two-score deficit.
That’s where Coppell’s defense kicked in. It intercepted Plano on the second play of its next possession and again on the fifth play of the next Plano series. Then Tanner Rice got a big sack to close out a drive with 4:43 to go. It resulted in a 28-yard field goal by Nick Jordan to seal the victory, 23-6, with 1:57 left.
On a day where fate didn’t bounce in Plano’s favor, the offense used the final drive to showcase some of the players that got it to the playoffs. Quarterback Connor Michelsen completed 5-of-7 passes on the final drive for 36 yards and had another 12 yards rushing. He completed passes to Steele Hoetger, Murat Kuzu and Clayton Parlin on the drive. Kuzu and Parlin each hauled in career highs in receptions.
The defense did exactly what logic suggested it needed to win. Cam McDaniel, the senior tailback who had averaged 158 yards rushing in the regular season, was limited to 61 yards on the ground. Joe Minden, the senior quarterback who had averaged 225 yards passing in the regular season, was held to 184 yards passing and no target had more than 80 yards receiving. Two Coppell plays went for more than 15 yards, as the defense controlled the big-play offense.
But, Coppell scored early and then kept Plano out of the end zone. Tyler Landis scored on a 13-yard pass with 2:27 left in the first quarter to give Coppell a 7-0 edge. Plano countered with Moore’s first field goal conversion, this one from 41 yards, with 6:40 left in the first half to trim the lead to 7-3 at halftime. But three takeaways and a couple of quick scores in the second half lifted Coppell past Plano.
Coppell 23, Plano 6