Keith MacPherson, Sports Editor
Gainesville Daily Register
DENTON — Gainesville coach Keith Hall wasn’t sure what to expect from his team on Friday.
The typically loose Leopards had a different approach to their first playoff game in two seasons.
“I was a little worried because they were real tight before the game,” Hall said. “They are normally a loose bunch that likes to have a lot of fun but they were real quiet before the game.”
It didn’t take long for his team to respond, though.
Gainsville jumped out to a 42-7 lead in the first half and never looked back in piling up 542 yards of total offense – 478 coming on the ground – in a 66-28 Region II-3A Division I bi-district win over Frisco Lone Star at Bronco Stadium on Friday.
“I was real pleased with how we came out and played tonight,” Gainesville coach Keith Hall said. “We started fast like we have done all year and we were able to do things we needed to do to win.”
Gainesville (11-0) will play Princeton, 28-14 winners over Ferris, later in the week in the area playoffs though a time and location have yet to be determined.
Leopard running back Adam Berryman was one of two Leopards to cross the century mark with 141 yards on the ground to go with two touchdowns. The junior scored on runs of 38 an 1 yard.
Berryman broke free on his 38-yard scoring run less than four minutes into the game to set the tone early for the Leopards as they went up 7-0.
As good as the Gainesville offense was at scoring, the defense found the scoreboard a few times itself. David Moore and Chris White both returned interceptions for touchdowns. Moore’s came from 36 yards out while White’s was from 30.
“I thought our defense played pretty well,” Hall said. “They made the most of their opportunities.”
Leopard quarterback Denzel Johnson ran for 140 yards on six carries with two touchdowns. Johnson scored on long touchdown runs on consecutive possessions – one coming from 43 yards out in the first quarter and one from 77 yards to open the second quarter and put the Leopards up 21-0.
“We feel like we have so many weapons – especially when our offensive line is playing well,” Hall said. “It makes it hard to isolate on one player.”
Lone Star (7-4) scored all but one of its touchdowns in the second half was the Leopards were rolling in many JV players that were moved up to varsity.
Ranger running back Ramon Harris quietly had a good game in the blowout with 127 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries.
Jonathan Mendez ran for 91 yards for the Leopards on four carries. He scored a 74-yard touchdown run on the opening play of the second half to put the Leopards up 49-7 at the time.
The Leopards defense limited the typically pass happy Rangers to 155 yard through the air. Lone Star quarterback Will Campbell completed 15 of 27 passes and two touchdowns.
The win is the second time in three years for the Leopards to reach the area round, though the win is a far cry from last year’s 2-8 finish.
“I told the kids last week, ‘You went through a tough year last year and you probably took a lot but you deserve what is happening to you,’” Hall said. “And they kept playing hard and working and now they are taking advantage of it.”