FRISCO — Time and again the Denison defense found a way to get off the field unscathed, until the one time it did not.
Time and again the Yellow Jacket offense was unable to find its way into the end zone, until the most important time it did.
What was a defensive struggle through three quarters turned twice on a pair of long touchdown passes, the last a 67-yarder from Austin Emery to Dalton Souther with just over three minutes remaining to lift Denison to a 21-10 victory against Frisco in non-district action at Memorial Stadium on Thursday night.
Emery also added a TD run in the final minute to seal the victory and Logan Wagner returned a fumble for a score for Denison (2-0), which won consecutive games to start a season for the first time since 2008.
Frisco (0-2) had done relatively little through the first 41 minutes before the run-based Raccoons caught the Jackets selling out to stop them on the ground. Carter Yates faked a toss and connected with Josh Michelsen, who was wide open down in the middle of the field, for a 77-yard TD and a 10-7 lead with 7:34 remaining in the game.
Denison’s ensuing possession started well and got into Frisco territory but the Jackets turned it over on down when a pass to D.J. Gray was broken up.
The Raccoons, who had several time-consuming drives, needed to burn off 5:34 to secure the victory but Denison forced another three-and-out, its fifth of the night.
Souther was able to get behind his man, crossing from left to right deep, Emery was able to hit him in stride near the Frisco 35 and the senior raced to the end zone to put the Jackets back in front, 14-10, with 3:09 left.
Frisco started at its 14-yard line and the defense came up with its third fumble recovery of the night, this time by Bralynn Ramsey at the seven after he swiped it as Yates was back to pass.
Two plays later Emery broke loose on the right side from 10 yards out to make it a two-score game.
Denison had a second straight dominant performance on defense. Outside the of the touchdown pass, Frisco had just 227 yards on 71 plays (barely three yards per snap), including 56 rushes for 159 yards,which is 2.84 per attempt.
Cade Gordy added a fumble recovery at the Raccoon 46-yard line on Frisco’s first possession of the third quarter and the Jackets also forced a pair of turnovers on downs on back-to-back possessions — Mateo Reyes sacked Jack Marshall at the Denison 16 with just over a minute left in the third and then a swarm stopped a run on fourth-and-six at the 16 with 9:31 remaining to keep Denison ahead for the time being.
It was a struggle for the Jackets to produce anything up until their final two drives, despite running for 179 yards and throwing for 112. Emery was 5-of-15 passing and had 61 yards on 16 attempts while Bubba Roberts added 10 carries for 54 yards and Kenny Gaffney had 10 carries for 46 yards. Denison was turned away on its first 11 drives of the night — five made it into Frisco territory.
The defense provided the only touchdown of the first half when Wagner scooped up a fumble and returned it seven yards for the score with 1:25 remaining in the second quarter.
Yates was turning to toss the ball to one of the backs when he was hit just inside the 10 after a first-play penalty had backed up the Raccoons.
Frisco, which ran 29 times for 75 yards in the first two quarters, notched the only other points of the half when Mitch Houghtlin kicked a 26-yard field goal a little more than three minutes into the second quarter.
It came on the end of a 12-play drive which Frisco had to feel was a disappointment because a 32-yard catch by Terrence Crenshaw over two defenders on third-and-eight gave the Raccoons first-and-goal at the two.
The first snap after the long completion was a nine-yard loss due to a fumbled pitch to sabotage the end of the series.
Houghtlin had missed a 32-yard field goal attempt on Frisco’s opening drive of the game, a possession that took nearly six minutes. The Raccoons’ three other series didn’t get out their territory and Reyes ended the final of that group with a blind-side sack to give Denison a chance at points right before the break.
With 40 seconds left, Emery hit Braydon Roberts for 33 yards after he broke a tackle to the Frisco 36-yard line. Three incomplete passes and a sack essentially ended the half.
Emery also had a chance to put points on the board with his foot when Denison had a strong drive right before the fumble recovery.
Emery had a pair of double-digit runs and Bubba Roberts ripped off 19-yard before the possession fizzled and the 33-yard field goal missed.