Surprise attack: Frisco passing game torches Little Elm
FRISCO -- Frisco and Little Elm entered Thursday night's game at Frisco ISD Memorial Stadium with similar offensive attacks.
Both teams use a run-dominated offense that features few pass attempts.
The Raccoons strayed from their usual style and aired it out against the Lobos, earning a 57-20 victory in the process.
"We were starting to get a little too one-dimensional," said Vance Gibson, Frisco head coach.
The beneficiary of Frisco's new attack was junior quarterback Jake Battaglia and senior receiver Drake Hardy.
The two Raccoons hooked up seven times with Hardy accounting for 182 of Battaglia's 280 yards through the air.
"We tried to put in a defense to stop it," said Donald Stowers, Little Elm head coach. "We just had a hard time stopping them."
Both teams began the night with sloppy play and it took more than eight minutes for the game's first score. Battaglia found senior running back Ben Cole for a 7-yard touchdown at the 3:44 mark to go ahead 8-0 after a successful 2-point conversion.
Frisco's success through the air opened up the team's ground game and allowed junior running back Max Steitle to break a 22-yard touchdown on Frisco's ensuing possession after Little Elm fumbled the kickoff return.
The score gave the Raccoons a 15-0 advantage with 3:33 left in the opening quarter and put all the momentum against Little Elm.
"It was really important," Gibson said. "[Little Elm] has the ability to keep your offense off the field for a long time."
Frisco still had to deal with Little Elm senior running back Keaun Kinner at the other end, with Kinner coming off a 343-yard and five-touchdown performance in two quarters of action against Frisco Liberty.
Kinner was able to trim Little Elm's deficit shortly after Steitle's touchdown by sprinting 64 yards down the sideline for a score of his own. A failed extra point kept the Lobos down, 15-6, with 2:42 left in the first.
"We just made too many mistakes," Stowers said. "Whether it was turnovers, not converting third downs or defensive breakdowns."
Despite those mistakes Little Elm made it a one-score game early in the second quarter when Kinner reached the end zone for the second time in the game. The senior running back's 13-yard scamper made it a 15-13 affair with 9:42 left in the half.
"[Kinner] is the real deal," Gibson said. "He is as good as anyone around."
Kinner's efforts weren't enough to keep Little Elm in contention over the course of the entire game though.
The Raccoons rattled off four unanswered touchdowns following Kinner's 13-yard score and built a 43-13 lead in the process.
"We just couldn't get off to a good start on offense and things kind of went downhill from there," Stowers said.
The first Frisco touchdown of the second quarter came courtesy of a 1-yard run from junior fullback Matt Nollman.
Battaglia later found Hardy for a 50-yard scoring strike with just 21 seconds left in the half that gave the Raccoons a 29-13 lead at the break.
"I thought we threw the ball pretty well for not being a spread offense," Gibson said.
Battaglia and Steitle then put the Lobos away in the second half, with Steitle running for a 20-yard touchdown at the 9:44 mark of the third before later catching a 4-yard touchdown pass from Battaglia to go ahead by 30 points.
"[Frisco] doesn't really have a passing style of offense," Stowers said. "We didn't really anticipate them throwing as much as they did."
Kinner added his third touchdown of the game following Steitle's 4-yard reception by taking the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to the end zone.
"I thought we did a pretty good job of containing [Kinner] aside from one or two plays," Gibson said.
Frisco would add two touchdowns in the final seven minutes of the game, with Cole eluding tacklers on a 42-yard scoring run at the 6:33 mark of the third and senior fullback Derek Deiter scoring on an offensive fumble recovery in the end zone.
The Raccoons racked up 600 yards of total offense in the game, with Nollman leading all Frisco rushers with 129 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
Cole added another 82 yards in the ground game and chipped in another 51 yards receiving with a touchdown in both areas.
Meanwhile, Battaglia passed the 1,000-yard mark with his 12-of-16 night that featured 280 yards, three touchdown passes and one interception.
"[Battaglia] had a good game throwing the ball," Gibson said. "He had some open receivers and he did a good job of finding them."
Kinner led all runners in the game with 144 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. Senior quarterback Devante' Pullum added another 85 yards on nine carries while completing 3-of-8 pass attempts for 14 yards.
"As long as we can continue on our path of staying positive, we feel confident about our chances to be a top-four team in our district," Stowers said.
At 1-2 against 9-4A counterparts, things should get easier for the Lobos next week with 1-4 Heritage coming to town. The two teams are slated for a 7 p.m. kick off Friday from the Little Elm Athletic Complex.
Frisco (4-2, 3-0) will now shift its focus to defending 9-4A champion Centennial, with the two teams playing at the same time from FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco.