DENTON -- A handful of new assistant coaches from SMU, promising dramatic improvement in the program's recruiting effort, made the short drive to the University of North Texas' Apogee Stadium for Friday's Class 5A Division I, Region II final between John Tyler and McKinney North.

They probably walked away intrigued with the talent on display, especially a Lions' offense that put up 715 yards on the way to a 64-40 win to secure the program's third state semifinal appearance in four years.

"It feels amazing," quarterback Geovari McCollister said. "I feel blessed. Not every kid gets this opportunity, so right now I'm just trying to take advantage of this. We've got to get back to work and win the next football game."

Braylon Jones tackles McKinney North quarterback Nick Hutchins for no gain in the second quarter. Jones recorded two sacks and a tackle for loss in Friday's 64-40 win. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

The JT (12-2) reward is a date with Aledo in the state semifinal round, a game set to take place at 2 p.m. Dec. 13 in Mesquite's E.H. Hanby Stadium. Aledo, last year's Class 4A Division II state champion, is seeking its fifth state title in six seasons.

Aledo made it to the semifinals by turning an eight-point halftime deficit against Canyon Randall into a 47-29 win Friday in the Region I final.

The Lions' win was much less dramatic. For the second straight game, the team built a 20-point lead and rode it to victory.

North (11-3), which made its first regional final appearance, never got within 13 points afterward.

Running back Jeremy Wilson started the high-scoring affair early. He reached the end zone from 33 yards out just 91 seconds into the game.

McCollister connected with Damion Miller for an 83-yard bomb at the 8:20 mark, after the JT defense forced a three-and-out. A missed PAT kick left the score 13-0.

Defensive tackle Braylon Jones' eight-yard sack on North quarterback Nick Hutchins derailed the Bulldogs' second drive. Wilson capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive with a touchdown run of 20 yards just over nine minutes into the game.

"They bailed us out today," head coach Ricklan Holmes said of the offense. "Our defense did not play very well. We missed tackles. We were where we were supposed to be and doing exactly what we needed to do, but we just didn't wrap up and complete it."

North struggled to find answers early but finished with 474 offensive yards.

You name a college, Bulldogs running back Ronald Jones has probably heard from it. After North blocked the punt that ended the fourth JT drive of the game, the Oklahoma State commitment ripped off a 28-yard score to cap a three-play, 51-yard drive with 9:39 to play before the half.

But the JT offense continued its extremely efficient night with a 41-yard run from Wilson two minutes later.

Lions quarterback Geovari McCollister shakes off McKinney North defensive end Noah Forte on a 44-yard run which set up a Jeremy Wilson 20-yard scoring run the next play in the second quarter of Friday's game. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

After that, the Lions scored four of the game's final 10 touchdowns and Luis Duran closed the night with a 40-yard field goal.

Rodney Bendy, a senior North Texas commitment, caught four passes for 72 yards and scored on a 19-yard catch. Nick Cain snagged a 37-yard score from McCollister and Bryson Smith had a touchdown reception of eight yards.

Miller caught a second scoring pass, a 39-yarder, with 1:12 remaining in the third quarter. He led the team with three catches for 131 yards.

The only glaring error the offense made was allowing back-to-back tackles for loss deep in its own territory midway through the third period. On the second tackle, Wilson fumbled in the end zone and the ball was recovered by North's Justin Madubuike for a score which cut the lead to 48-27.

McCollister completed 16 of 24 passes for 361 passing yards and ran for another 113 on 13 carries. Wilson had 188 yards by halftime and finished with 227.

The JT defense recorded seven tackles for loss and linebacker Tony Johnson absolutely sealed North's fate with an interception in the end zone and 2:15 remaining in the game, the Bulldogs' lone turnover.

The Lions gained their 30th first down a minute later, kneeled once and clinched another semifinal appearance for the storied school.

"We know it's not over with yet," Wilson said. "We want to win state. We're not satisfied with just playing an Aledo or whoever is left. We want to win state."

Running back Jeremy Wilson and the Lions' offense comes off the field after taking the kneel down which clinched a trip to the Class 5A Division I state semifinal round. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

John Tyler 64, McKinney North 40

Class 5A Division I
Region II Championship
At Apogee Stadium, Denton

John Tyler              20      21      20     3    --     64
McKinney North      0      19       14     7    --     40

First Quarter
JT--Jeremy Wilson 33 run (Luis Duran kick), 10:29
JT--Damion Miller 83 pass from Geovari McCollister (kick failed), 8:20
JT--Wilson 20 run (Duran kick), 2:53
Second Quarter
MN--Ronald Jones 28 run (Chase Carraher kick), 9:39
JT--Wilson 41 run (Duran kick), 7:43
MN--Nick Hutchins 2 run (kick failed), 4:37
JT--Rodney Bendy 19 pass from McCollister (Duran kick), 2:51
JT--Nick Cain 37 pass from McCollister (Duran kick), :54
MN--Jones 74 run (kick failed), :08
Third Quarter
JT--McCollister 29 run (Duran kick), 8:15
MN--Justin Madubuike fumble recovery in end zone (Gabe Constantine pass from Hutchins), 6:14
JT--Bryson Smith 8 pass McCollister (kick failed), 2:57
MN--Hutchins 17 run (kick failed), 2:06
JT--Miller 39 pass from McCollister (Duran kick), 1:12
Fourth Quarter
MN--Hutchins 1 run (Carraher kick), 9:09
JT--Duran 40 field goal, 6:49

 

                                         JT                  MN

First Downs                      30                   20
Total Yards                       715                474
Rushes-Yards                  48-354           40-246
Passing Yards                  361                 228
Comp.-Att.-Int.                 16-24-0          12-23-1
Punts-Avg.                        2-18.5            5-9.8
Fumbles-Lost                    2-1                 0-0
Penalties-Yards                10-65             5-45

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING--John Tyler, Jeremy Wilson 31-227, Geovari McCollister 13-113, Nick Cain 3-15, TEAM 1-(-1). McKinney North, Ronald Jones 20-188, Nick Hutchins 19-59, Micah Baulicex 1(-1).
PASSING--John Tyler, McCollister 16-24-0--361. McKinney North, Hutchins 12-22-1--228, Devon Drane 0-1-0--0.
RECEIVING--John Tyler, Damion Miller 3-131, Rodney Bendy 4-72, Nick Cain 2-49, Wilson 3-48, Duntayviun Gross 2-35, Bryson Smith 2-26. McKinney North, Brennan Harris 2-56, Jones 2-48, Gabe Constantine 4-45, JoMarr Davis 2-43, Miguel Hudson 2-36.