The Prosper Eagles earned their first shutout of the 2019 season as they dominated the Plano East Panthers in a 42-0 victory at Children’s Health Stadium on Sept. 27.
Prosper scored the fewest points in a first half so far this season, but the flood gates opened for the offense in the third quarter. The Eagles’ defense held strong all game, forcing Plano East into one interception, two fruitless trips to the red zone and six punts.
“I thought we came out a little lethargic in the first half,” Prosper head coach Brandon Schmidt said of his team’s effort. “In the second half, we came out, got a stop immediately and put a score on them, which got them out of their game plan at that point. There’s some stuff we can work on, but overall, I’m proud of our kids.”
Prosper had 378 total yards and 18 first downs, compared to 110 yards and only nine first downs for Plano East. The Eagles probably would have had even more first downs, but their defense was so commanding, the offense kept getting the ball with excellent field position. Their 132 rushing yards nearly tripled Plano East’s total. Prosper did make some mistakes, as the Eagles had one turnover and six penalties for 40 total yards, but the mistakes had little-to-no effect on the game.
Junior quarterback Jackson Berry had another great game as he completed 14 of 20 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown on just eight attempts.
Schmidt said Berry has done well continuing to get better every week, and that comes from his work at practice.
“He’s done a great job executing the game plan, playing within himself and really just taking what the defense gives him,” Schmidt said.
Senior running back JT Lane was the leading rusher for the Eagles, he carried the ball 12 times for 51 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Tyler Bailey also rushed for a touchdown and caught eight passes for 78 yards and another score. Senior receiver Hayden Metcalf tallied 99 receiving yards and a touchdown of his own with just four receptions.
The Eagles’ wasted no time getting started as they took only five plays to score on their first drive. After a couple of short rushes, Berry found a lane on third down and gained 10 yards. He then completed a 29-yard pass to Cameron Harpole, followed immediately by a 32-yard touchdown strike to Metcalf to complete the five-play, 79-yard drive. Junior kicker Brad Larson finished the extra point, and Prosper led 7-0.
Plano East methodically drove down the field on its first possession, earning just enough yardage on the ground to keep its offense going. The Panthers worked their way to the red zone, but Prosper’s defense stopped them with a three-yard loss on fourth-and-one.
Prosper’s second drive was gathering some momentum but came to a sudden halt when Berry threw an interception on a pass to the left sideline. The Panthers again marched their way into the red zone, but after a critical fumble on third down, were forced to attempt a field goal that missed wide right.
Prosper’s offense kept chipping away at the Panthers’ on the next drive but could not get into field goal range. They were forced to bring out junior punter Grant Peck, whose punt flew out-of-bounds at Plano East’s 7-yard line. The Eagles’ defense was a stone wall on the next drive, forcing Plano East into their first three-and-out of the game.
After a short punt by the Panthers put Prosper just 31 yards from the goal line, the Eagles’ offense, especially Lane, got to work. Lane had four rushing attempts in the six-play, 31-yard drive, including a 16-yarder that set them up at first-and-10 in the red zone and a 2-yard touchdown run right up the gut of the defense. Larson nailed his second extra point and Prosper entered halftime ahead 14-0.
Coming out of halftime, Prosper’s offense exploded, and their defense shackled the Panthers. Schmidt said he told his team at halftime that they need to do better in the second half.
“I really challenged them,” Schmidt said. “I challenged our offensive line to play better and our defense to tackle better.”
After forcing the Panthers to their second three-and-out, the Eagles’ offense paraded 65 yards in just five plays, ending their drive with Bailey’s 1-yard rush. Larson’s extra point was good, giving prosper a 21-0 lead.
Prosper’s defense held steady again as they intercepted a pass on just the second play of the drive and ran it back to Plano East’s 29-yard line. Only five snaps later and the Eagles had already scored another touchdown courtesy of a pass from Berry to Bailey for 22 yards. After Larson put the extra point between the uprights for his fourth of the day, Prosper led 28-0.
Plano East was forced to punt after their third straight three-and-out. Berry marched the Eagles down the field once again, completing four passes for 48 yards, including a soaring 30-yarder to Metcalf that set up Lane’s 4-yard touchdown on first-and-goal. Larson converted his fifth extra point of the day to put a cap on Prosper’s eight-play, 56-yard scoring drive that extended their lead to 35-0.
Aided by an offensive holding penalty, Prosper’s defense knocked the Panthers back 18 yards and forced a fourth consecutive three-and-out. Senior Joshua Graham received the punt near midfield then sliced-and-diced through the defense down to Plano East’s 2-yard line. Berry scored on the next play by way of a quarterback sneak up the middle. Larson completed his perfect day with his sixth, and final, extra point to put the Eagles up 42-0.
Plano East’s next drive ran out the clock on the third quarter and stalled out just two plays later. Prosper drove down the field but couldn’t find the red zone and was forced to punt. Peck’s second punt of the day traveled 31 yards and pinned the Panthers within their 10-yard line.
The Eagles’ defense held Plano East to one set of downs for the sixth straight time. They forced a fumble at the Panthers’ one-yard line, but Plano East recovered the fumble and managed to avoid a safety. Plano East was forced to punt once again. Prosper returned the punt a couple of yards to the Panthers’ 37-yard line.
The Eagles’ offense experienced their first three-and-out of the day, and Peck pinned Plano East within their 20-yard line for the third time in as many punts. Plano East had their longest drive since the first quarter, but the game clock reached all zeroes before they found the red zone, ending the fifth chapter of Prosper’s season.
Prosper’s 42-0 victory lifted the Eagles to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in district competition this season and keeps them at the top of UIL District 9-6A with Allen. They get a well-deserved break this week and will resume play against the district’s third-place team, the Jesuit Rangers (3-2, 2-0), on the road Oct. 11.
“(The bye week) is an opportunity for us to get healthy, get recharged and get some work in for Jesuit.” Schmidt said. “That’s going to be a big game. Every district game is, but that’s going to be a big one.”
Jesuit is on a three-game winning streak after starting the season 0-2. Prosper’s rushing attack looks to be much more formidable than Jesuit’s, but the Rangers’ passing attack is nothing to scoff at. They have just over 100 fewer yards than the Eagles and only one less passing touchdown, so Prosper’s secondary may have their work cut out for them.
Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11 at Postell Stadium in Dallas.