By Michael Finnegan / Special Contributor
If Jesuit didn’t know prior to the season how difficult its nondistrict schedule would be, it’s finding out in a hurry.
Miklo Smalls threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for a score to lead Plano East to a 51-27 win over Jesuit on Friday in the first game of the Cotton Bowl Prep Showcase.
It was the second consecutive lopsided loss for the Rangers following a 47-13 defeat against DeSoto last week in the season opener. And Jesuit will return home to face perennial power Lake Travis next week. The hope, of course, is to prepare for a defense of the District 9-6A title.
In other words, the Rangers aren’t sweating the early results, or the fact that they’ve allowed 98 points through the first two weeks.
“We want to play the toughest pre-district schedule we can,” said Jesuit head coach Brandon Hickman. “We feel it prepares us better for district play.”
Smalls, who has verbally committed to Rice, was efficient all night, connecting on 80 percent of his passes with just four incompletions on 20 attempts.
The Rangers (0-2) used a long, methodical drive on its first possession of the game and took a 7-0 lead on Evan Jackson’s 8-yard run.
The Panthers (1-1) responded immediately with a quick-strike offense that drove the length of the field in seven plays. PESH scored on a 12-yard pass from Smalls to Joseph Carter.
The two teams traded touchdowns early in the second quarter and with the score tied at 14-14, Jonathan Meadors returned a kickoff 95 yards to put Plano East on top.
The Rangers fumbled deep in their own territory on the ensuing possession, and the Panthers capitalized. Trey Hunter plunged in from the 2-yard line to give Plano East a 28-14 lead.
“We played well tonight, just had too many mistakes,” Hickman said. “Against a good team like Plano East, fumbles and miscues are hard to overcome.”
Parker Towns led the Rangers on another lengthy drive late in the second quarter, and his 30-yard completion to John Wunderlick gave Jesuit a first down at the Plano East 28-yard line. However, another costly fumble stalled the drive.
Jesuit forced a turnover on the very next play, and Towns immediately found Connor Jackson for a 19-yard touchdown pass to get the Rangers within one score at 28-21 just before halftime.
But it was too much Smalls in the second half. He threw two third-quarter touchdown passes as the Panthers built a 44-21 lead. Plano East added one more score in the fourth quarter on a 73-yard burst up the middle by Meadors.
Towns threw his second touchdown pass of the game late in the third quarter, this one a 32-yard strike to Wunderlick. Towns finished with 225 yards passing while Jackson rushed for 163 yards on 26 carries.
The two teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of total offense.