On a beautiful night for football, it was anything but that for the Apaches.
D'Anthony Hopkins shredded the Tyler Junior College run defense as Blinn College handed the Apaches their first loss of the season, a 50-35 decision on Saturday night at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
TJC (3-1, 2-1 Southwest Junior College Football Conference) did not look like the crisp machine of the first three games. Three times inside the 6, TJC came away with no points. The Apaches lost two fumbles and were penalized 15 times for 145 yards. Six times they were called for holding.
It was a triumphant return to Tyler for longtime TJC assistant Ryan Mahon, who is in his first season as head coach of Blinn. The Buccaneers are now 4-2 overall and 3-2 in league play.
Hopkins, a 6-2, 220-pounder from Cuero, gobbled up the TJC defense, rushing for 370 yards and scored four touchdowns. He found the end zone on runs of 31, 84, 35 and 78 yards.
TJC gave up 713 yards to Blinn - 442 rushing and 271 passing.
The Apaches moved the ball but could not muster the key conversions. Still, TJC quarterback McLane Carter passed for 347 yards while the Apaches rushed for 201 yards. Kee Kee Johnson led with 109 yards rushing on 15 attempts.
TJC's special teams came up big as Tyler Hayes blocked a field goal attempt and DaQuaylyn Thomas returned it 73 yards for a TD. Also, KJ Turner blocked a punt to set up a TD.
Jordan Lawless booted field goals of 48 and 35 yards for TJC.
Tyler returns to play next Saturday, traveling to Corsicana to meet Navarro. Kickoff is 3 p.m.
SMOKE SIGNALS: More than 100 young Belle Babes performed at halftime with the Apache Belles.