In football, the final score doesn’t always tell the whole story and that was most certainly the case in the Enterprise Wildcat’s 35-10 loss on the road to the McGill-Toolen Yellow Jackets on Nov. 8 in the first round of the Class 7A State Playoffs.
Enterprise trailed McGill-Toolen just 14-10 heading into the final period of play before costly mistakes cost the Wildcats 21 points to secure Class 7A’s No. 1 team the win.
In Enterprise’s previous three games, the Wildcats have owned the fourth quarter, but after dominating McGill-Toolen on the stat sheet for the first three quarters, it was the Yellow Jackets who owned the final period.
“We handed (the game) to them in the fourth quarter,” Enterprise coach Rick Darlington said. “I thought we really had a chance to go down and score (in the fourth quarter) and win the game.
“Congratulations to them and no disrespect to them but you’re not going to convince me they’re a better team than us. I’ve got confidence in my team and I believe we can defeat a team like that. They’re very well-coached and they have great tradition but we’re building that again here, too.”
A fired up Enterprise defense opened up the game forcing a Yellow Jacket fumble that defensive tackle Shaheem Gray covered up. Three plays later, the Wildcats faced a fourth and 2 from their own 44-yard line.
Enterprise running back Josh McCray gashed the McGill-Toolen defense right up the gut for a 56-yard touchdown run to stun the Yellow Jacket crowd and put the Wildcats ahead 7-0 with 6:37 remaining in the opening period.
Enterprise and McGill-Toolen exchanged punts for the remainder of the first quarter, but as the second quarter opened the Wildcats fumbled a reverse toss attempt and gave the Yellow Jackets the ball on the Enterprise 11-yard line.
One play later, McGill-Toolen tied the game up 7-7 on an 11-yard touchdown run from Garrian Betts with 10:54 left in the first half.
Enterprise drove into McGill-Toolen territory before a Jackson Darlington interception gave the Yellow Jackets the ball back near midfield.
McGill-Toolen took the lead 14-7 on a 49-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jacob Arceneaux to tight end Byron Millsap with 5:44 left in the half.
The Yellow Jackets surprised Enterprise with an onside kick but the Wildcat defense stood up and drove McGill-Toolen backwards to force a punt.
The Enterprise offense managed to use the final minute of the half to drive down to the Yellow Jacket 34-yard line where Hunter Perry attempted a career-long 51-yard field goal with less than 10 seconds remaining. Unfortunately for Enterprise, the kick was blocked and McGill-Toolen held on to the 14-7 lead at halftime.
Enterprise drove into the McGill-Toolen red-zone to open the third quarter and freshman running back Mykel Johnson seemingly tied the score up with a 22-yard touchdown run, but a questionable holding penalty wiped out the score.
The Wildcats had to settle for a field goal as Perry drilled a 43-yarder with 7:14 left in the third quarter to cut McGill-Toolen’s lead to 14-10.
The Wildcat defense followed up with a three-and-out but Enterprise was unable to get anything going after another holding penalty stifled the ensuing drive. Perry’s punt was blocked giving the Yellow Jackets the ball inside the Enterprise 10-yard line.
The Wildcat defense stood up once again, however, and forced McGill-Toolen to lose 11 yards on its next three plays. The Yellow Jackets missed a 37-yard field goal giving the Wildcats life again.
As the fourth quarter began, McCray found space along the right sideline and exploded for 21 yards near midfield. Another holding penalty once again snuffed out a promising Wildcat drive, though, and Enterprise was forced to punt again.
Yellow Jacket quarterback Arcenaux found receiver Jordan Mosley for a 60-yard touchdown with 6:52 remaining in the game to extend their lead to 21-10.
The Yellow Jackets then caught the Wildcats off guard with a squib kick and McGill-Toolen covered it up at the Enterprise 24-yard line.
A few plays later Arcenaux found Jordan Drake for an 11-yard touchdown with 5:32 left to extend the lead to 28-10.
The Wildcats turned the ball over on downs on their next possession and McGill-Toolen followed up with a 28-yard touchdown with 4:27 remaining to seal the game and pick up the 35-10 win.
Enterprise totaled 327 yards of offense and 14 first downs with 265 yards coming on the ground, while holding the high-powered Yellow Jacket offense to just 268 total yards and 12 first downs.
“We just made too many mistakes to win and that’s really what it came down to,” Rick Darlington said. “Mistakes in the fourth quarter and turnovers really hurt us. Pretty much all of their points came off our mistakes. Also, the holding calls really hurt us and took some points off the board, too.”
McCray led the Wildcats with 96 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, while Jackson Darlington added 81 yards on 16 carries. He also completed 5-of-13 pass attempts for 62 yards and two interceptions. McCray also had three tackles, one tackle-for-loss and a pass breakup on defense along with a kickoff return for 12 yards.
Johnson rushed for 57 yards on 14 carries. Jared Smith caught four passes for 57 yards and rushed for 23 yards on two carries.
Linebacker KD McCray closed out his senior season in big fashion with eight tackles, two tackles-for-loss and 0.5 sack. Senior Shaheem Gray also had a big day with 3.5 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, 0.5 a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a quarterback hurry.
Linebacker LZ Leonard totaled seven tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, a sack and a quarterback hurry, as well.
For McGill-Toolen, Braylon McReynolds rushed for 65 yards on 14 carries, while Arcenaux completed 8-of-12 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns.
After struggling to a 2-5 record midway through the season, Enterprise bounced back to win three consecutive games and earn a spot in the playoffs with big come-from-behind wins.
“I think it’s the start of something here,” Rick Darlington said. “We battled with (McGill-Toolen) for three quarters and I think we built a foundation here.
“I will never call 5-6 a good season but I’ve never felt as good about a season with this many losses as this because the way they battled back. I think it was the start of something special.”
Rick Darlington pointed to his seniors has being a special group following the game.
“They’re the ones that started building our legacy here,” he said. “It’s hard to come in and do things totally different than you’ve been doing them but they stayed with it and did a great job for us and started building the foundation for our program.
“Now, we have to have another class step up and ramp it up now. It will be more intense and more demanding than it was this year because the standard will be higher. It’s not just about getting into the playoffs now; it’s about getting in the playoffs and competing for a state championship.”