NACOGDOCHES — On a day that saw state champs fall in a couple of classifications — most notably three-time champ Highland Park in Class 5A — the Daingerfield Tigers added two-time champ Newton to the list.
Zaylon Jeter’s 38-yard scramble away from trouble and all the way to the end zone rallied Daingerfield to a 30-26 win over Newton on Friday in a Class 3A Division II regional at SFA’s Homer Bryce Stadium.
The Daingerfield defense, which came up with key stops and turnovers all night to keep the Tigers in the game, sealed the deal late with a fumble recovery by Austin Fomby that allowed Daingerfield to take a knee and run out the clock.
The Tigers (11-2) will meet district rival Omaha Paul Pewitt (12-1) next week in the regional finals. The quarterfinal matchup is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Sam Parker Field in Mount Pleasant.
Newton ends the season with an 11-2 record.
Jeter rushed for 77 yards and two touchdowns and completed 19 of 37 passes for 241 yards and two more scores to lead the Tigers. Zakobie Craver had three catches for 66 yards, and Tyrese Grant had seven grabs for 98 yards and a touchdown.
DeAnthony Gatson carried 22 times for 130 yards and a touchdown in the loss for Newton.
Newton, which took advantage of eight turnovers a year ago to defeat the Tigers 79-12 in a fourth-round playoff game, had a couple of costly interceptions on Friday.
The first came early in the fourth quarter and led to a Tiger touchdown when Jeter scored from 5-yards out after a T.J. Williams interception. Jeter hit Craver for 47 yards on the drive and later kept from 5-yards out for the TD. The try for two failed, but Daingerfield cut the deficit to 26-22 with 8:18 to play.
On Newton’s next drive, Evan Peel picked off a pass deep in Tiger territory and returned it 44 yards. The pick didn’t lead to points, but on Newton’s next drive the defense held again and forced a punt. The boot went only 10 yards to set up the go-ahead score for Daingerfield.
Craver, who kept plays alive all night long with his scrambling ability, completed passes of 5 and 15 yards, and then did the scoring honors himself with a Houdini-like scramble away from several Eagle defenders and then a mad dash down the Newton sideline for the touchdown. Craver added the two-pointer to make it a 30-22 contest.