The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

December 10, 2013

Leonard downs Cooper to reach state semifinals

By JOHNNY McKINNEY
HERALD-BANNER CORRESPONDENT

ROYSE CITY —   The Leonard Tigers continue to make school history.

  The Tigers knocked off previously undefeated Cooper 28-20 in a Class 2A Division II quarterfinal game on a cold Monday at Royse City ISD Stadium to reach the state football semifinals for the first time.

  Leonard, now 11-3 for the season, will face 14-0 Cisco in a semifinal game sometime on Saturday. The site and time have yet to be determined.

  Leonard running back Solomon Titus rushed for 194 yards on 25 carries to lead the Tigers and wide receiver Ty McKinney had seven catches for 77 yards.

  “We played great as a team tonight as we have done all year,” said Leonard coach Shane Fletcher.

Leonard opened the scoring with a five-play, 67-yard drive as quarterback Justin Bennett connected with Dyan Monck on an 11-yard touchdown pass. McKinney kicked the extra point to give Leonard a 7-0 lead with only 1:30 elapsed in the quarter.

  The Tigers next drove 79 yards with a key play being a Titus 37-yard run to the 17. McKinney hauled in a 10-yard pass from Bennett to the Bulldogs’ one. Titus then next plunged from there for the touchdown.

  Cooper scored its first touchdown after recovering a Leonard fumble at the Tiger 35-yard line. Cooper’s Casey Leatherwood threw a 32-yard scoring strike to Austin Blakeley. The run for two failed.

  With time expiring in the half, Bennett threw a 1-yard scoring pass to Dylan Monck. This gave Leonard a 21-6 halftime lead.

  Cooper emerged from the locker room determined and marched 79 yards for a score. Jordan Sullivan ran 33 yards for the touchdown. Grant Sepulevda ran for the two-point conversion to bring the score to within 21-14.

  Six minutes later Cooper’s Coby Early broke free on a 74-yard scoring run. The run for two failed but Leonard maintained a 21-20 lead.

  The Tigers recovered a fumble at the Cooper 43. On third and 12, Bennett connected with McKinney on a pass for the first down. Three plays later Bennett threw a 9-yard scoring strike to Ryan Reed Nixon. This gave Leonard a 28-20 margin with 1:51 left in the game.

  Leonard put up a defensive stand, stopping a late scoring threat.

  “This team has exceptional unity and we always have each others’ back,” said Ty McKinney.

  The Cooper-Leonard game was originally scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday in Wylie but was moved to Monday because of icy weather conditions.  The site was also switched to the Royse City ISD stadium, where the temperature hovered around the freezing mark for the duration of the game.

   Cisco won its quarterfinal game 42-14 over former state champion Canadian.