ARLINGTON — North Forney ran the first four plays of Saturday's playoff game against Lake Dallas out of a swinging gate formation, scoring on the fourth to open with a touchdown.
In a way, that first drive was indicative of much of the evening for North Forney coach Randy Jackson's bunch, which did just about anything it wanted in a 50-20 rout of Lake Dallas in a Class 5A Division II area-round game at AT&T Stadium.
"We're averaging about 21 points in the first quarter this year, so we try to start fast and we play pretty fast," Jackson said. "We try to run more in the second half and control things a little more. Our quarterback makes it go. We have receivers. We have the personnel to do what we do."
When Saturday's game had ended, North Forney had withstood one small, final punch from Lake Dallas and stormed its way to the third round of the postseason behind 374 passing yards from senior quarterback Colby Suits, who threw for six touchdowns and rushed for another to pace his team to a 30-0 halftime lead that ballooned to 37-0 early in the third quarter.
North Forney (10-2) -- accustomed to shootouts -- entered the game averaging 54.5 points and allowing more than 30 points per game.
While the North Forney offense struck first, it was its defense that truly delivered the first serious blow.
In a game expected to be another shootout, with Lake Dallas averaging 30 points per game, North Forney stopped Lake Dallas on fourth-and-1 at midfield to end its first possession. Minutes later, North Forney was back on the scoreboard.
"The first part was really bad," Lake Dallas coach Michael Young said. "We had fourth-and-1 and didn't make it after they'd scored. Fourth-and-1 from the 50 against them — you almost have to go for it. If you're punting to them, it's never good. We just got off to a really bad start offensively."
Going into halftime, Lake Dallas was dealt a serious blow when Ryan Depperschmidt threw his second interception to North Forney linebacker Willie Thomas at the goal line with 20 seconds to play to send Lake Dallas into the break scoreless.
"Up front, we just had a hard time," Young said. "Our O-line had some struggles with their defensive front. That's one part of their defense that has been pretty consistent and pretty good. It wasn't a great matchup for us there because we're a bit young and inexperienced up there. We had some trouble with it."
Lake Dallas, known for dramatic postseason comebacks, could not dig out of the 37-0 hole early in the third. Lake Dallas (7-5) received the second-half kickoff but was forced to punt, and North Forney quickly took advantage with a 78-yard scoring strike from Suits to Jordan Carroll to give North Forney the insurmountable lead.
"We practice halftime every day," Jackson said. "We take about a five-minute halftime every day and do high knees and warmups. I know [starting the second half strong] is a big deal. I was 0-2 coming in against Lake Dallas from my days at Grapevine, so I knew what they're capable of. They have a great coaching staff.
"I never felt really good until it was 50-20."
Depperschmidt, a junior, threw for 210 yards and a touchdown while leading his team with 92 yards on the ground and two scoring runs. Sophomore wide receiver Brandon Engel had 99 yards and a touchdown.
Young, whose team should benefit next year with the upcoming Class 5A split-division format, said he was proud of his team for returning to the postseason and playing for an outright district championship in Week 11 in a district full of schools with much larger enrollment figures than Lake Dallas', which is about 1,200 students.
"When the season started, we wanted our last chance before this 5A split to prove that we could still play with the big boys," Young said. "Our district was full of big schools, and to have a chance to play for outright district champ in Week 11, beat a 9-1 really good [Frisco] Reedy team in the playoffs, a really good The Colony team at their place and a really good Little Elm team was big. We had a really good season to be proud of, and those seniors have left a good legacy here showing what we're about — being the small school that can compete with the big boys. I'm proud of them."
North Forney 50, Lake Dallas 20
NF -- Jordan Carroll 21 pass from Colby Suits (Carlos Rodriguez kick)
NF -- Carlos Rodriguez 21 FG
NF -- Colby Suits 1 run (Carlos Rodriguez kick)
NF -- Jackson Ennels 21 pass from Colby Suits (conversion failed)
NF -- Jaydyn Barrall 25 pass from Colby Suits (Carlos Rodriguez kick)
NF -- Jordan Carroll 78 pass from Colby Suits (Carlos Rodriguez kick)
LD -- Ryan Depperschmidt 10 run (kick failed)
LD -- Ryan Depperschmidt 16 run (pass failed)
NF -- Jackson Ennels 10 pass from Colby Suits (Carlos Rodriguez kick)
LD -- Idsael Nava 66 pass from Ryan Depperschmidt (Ryan Depperschmidt run)
NF -- Barclay Ford 7 pass from Colby Suits (kick failed)
Rushing -- LD: Ryan Depperschmidt 19-92, Charles Williams 2-26, Idsael Nava 3-22, Christian Crawford 2-7, Ky'lee Smith 4-4, RJ Eanes 3-3, Craig Webb 1-1, Brandon Engel 1--2, NF: Calvin Ribera 23-158, Jacob Soto 2-34, Nate Miller 5-28, Colby Suits 12-26, Corey Mayfield, Jr. 1--6.
Passing -- LD: Ryan Depperschmidt 18-30-2-210, Brandon Engel 0-1-0-0, NF: Colby Suits 19-29-0-374, Jordan Carroll 0-1-0-0.
Receiving -- LD: Idsael Nava 1-66, Brandon Engel 3-33, Zach Sasser 2-32, Ky'lee Smith 5-27, Charles Williams 5-23, Christian Covington 1-22, Darius Goodloe 1-7, NF: Jordan Carroll 3-148, Jackson Ennels 5-60, Jaydyn Barrall 3-56, Michael Court 1-41, Barclay Ford 3-28, Corey Johnson 2-25, Corey Mayfield, Jr. 2-16.