After trudging off the Munson Stadium field for the final time, the Yellow Jackets knew what they had let slip away. Now Denison goes into the playoffs for the first time in four years with some satisfaction taken away by the sting of a season-ending loss.

After trudging off the Munson Stadium field for the final time, the Yellow Jackets knew what they had let slip away. Now Denison goes into the playoffs for the first time in four years with some satisfaction taken away by the sting of a season-ending loss.


"We’ll put this one behind us and move on," Denison head coach Chad Rogers said. "If you had said before the season they would win a district title, they would have taken it no question. These kids have higher goals."


Ronald Jones ran for 230 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries and the Bulldogs held off a late charge by the Jackets as McKinney North defeated Denison, 49-37, in the District 13-4A finale at Munson Stadium on Friday night.


The outcome, combined with the other results in the district, led to a four-way tie for the 13-4A championship. Denison (6-4, 5-2), came into the contest with no worse than a share, which McKinney North (6-4, 5-2) grabbed — along with a playoff spot — by defeating the Yellow Jackets. Wylie and Lovejoy joined the fray with their victories as well.


"That other team was hungrier than we were," Rogers said. "It looked like first half we were satisfied. That’s falls on us as coaches."


By tying Lovejoy and virtue of its head-to-head status against the trio, Denison fell to the second seed in the Class 4A Division II Region II bracket and will face Sulphur Springs in a bi-district game at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Texas A&M-Commerce.


Khalil Brown scored all five touchdowns — four rushing — and totaled 89 yards on 18 carries for Denison, which was trying to close out its home field with a victory before construction on the new stadium begins.


Twice in the final quarter the Jackets cut the lead to five before McKinney North answered with a big play. This was after the Bulldogs looked to be in command when they took a 28-10 lead on the first play of the third quarter.


"They never gave up," Rogers said. "These kids keep playing hard."


Brown scored three times in the third, including twice in the final four minutes as Denison put itself in position to take the lead. His two-yard run with no time left cut the North lead to 35-30 and the Jackets, as they did almost the entire second half, tried an onside kick.


The Bulldogs recovered and needed less than a minute to go half the field to jump back ahead by 12 on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Ben Dutze to Trey Smith.


Denison responded when Brown caught a 44-yard TD pass from Devon Blanton with 9:12 remaining to make it 42-37. The Jackets came up with a three-and-out but Steven Wagoner fumbled on the punt return and North took over at the Jacket 44. Three plays later Dutze scored on a sneak as the drive started with a 35-yard receiver pass.


It was one of several big plays North used to score, including three touchdown runs by Jones from 49 yards or longer.


"That’s what they do," Rogers said. "We were ready for what they were going to do, even the trick play at the end."


Denison couldn’t score on the ensuing drive, turning the ball over on downs at the North 26 with 3:02 left and the Bulldogs were able to run out the clock. The Jackets had three drives get as deep as the Bulldog 26-yard-line and came away with no points.


Denison took the lead midway through the first quarter on a one-yard run by Brown, which was set up thanks to a 32-yard punt return by Wagoner, and Jones answered for North with a 10-yard run on the ensuing possession. Jake Walters made a 22-yard field goal when the Jackets couldn’t punch in a touchdown with 3:02 left in the half but the lead lasted all of eight seconds.


Jones went 68 yards on the first play from scrimmage for a touchdown, Gabe Dutze recovered a fumble by Colton Henslee on Denison’s first play from scrimmage at the Jacket 19 and the Bulldogs took a 21-10 lead just 21 seconds before half-time on a 12-yard TD grab by Brennan Harris.


With Jones scoring early on Bulldog possessions, Denison’s strategy was to onside kick and it worked once when Yavel Hernandez recovered to help set up the Brown TD at the end of the third quarter. The Jackets almost had another extra possession but recovered a half-yard shy of midfield on the second-half kickoff before the ball went the necessary 10 yards.


"Jake Walters is one of the best kickers I’ve seen at onside kicks," Rogers said. "We thought we could do it and be successful. We should have had another one and if we block a guy on another, we would have had that one too."


Jones had a 49-yard TD run to open the second half and added a 60-yarder after Brown answered for Denison. Jones’ four TD runs totaled 187 yards; he gained 43 on his other 17 carries.


Denison was held under 200 yards rushing for the first time in district play and needed 50 carries to get to 196, just under four yards per carry.