WHITEHOUSE — Backed by a game-changing secondary and a dynamic offensive duo, John Tyler tracked down sole possession of the pole position in District 14-4A.
John Tyler’s junior combination of Greg Ward and Fred Ross teamed up for six touchdowns as the Lions downed Whitehouse 42-14 in a showdown Friday night at Wildcat Stadium.
Ward rushed for 156 yards and four TDs, including two over the final three minutes to stamp the victory, which moved JT to 4-3 on the season, and more importantly 4-0 in district play.
“We’ve been here before and played big games against Lufkin, Longview and Robert E. Lee,” said JT head coach Dereck Rush, whose team won its 12th consecutive district game. “We won and hopefully we can keep on winning and getting better.”
Ross totaled 193 yards of offense, running five times for 82 yards and a pair of TDs. Ross caught 11 balls for 111 yards, more than Whitehouse’s star tandem of Jonathan Aldridge (5-66) and Dylan Cantrell (2-39). Aldridge entered the game leading the state in passing yards per game and Cantrell tops in Texas in total catches.
The JT defense flustered a Whitehouse offense averaging 375 passing yards entering the affair. Hunter Taylor, the state’s second-leading passer, completed 18 of 42 passes for 236 yards and two interceptions.
Taylor rallied Whitehouse from a 21-point deficit, throwing a 59-yard TD to Justin Bloom and a 45-yard strike to Aldridge to make it 28-14.
The Lions, who also led 21-0 in last year’s meeting only to settle for a seven-point victory, buckled down over the last 15 minutes to seal the deal. Tyus Bowser intercepted a pass to set up Ward’s 7-yard scoring scamper with 3:14 remaining.
After stopping Whitehouse on downs, Ross ran 33 yards to set up Ward’s 8-yard score. Ward added a 5-yard TD run early in the third.
The Lions rolled up 527 yards of offense, including a season-high 355 rushing.
“That’s been our biggest goal as far as offensively,” said Rush, whose team passed for more than 1,600 yards over the first six games. “Defensively our guys did an excellent job, coach (Barry) Anderson and his staff, of game-planning.”
JT established the ground game in the first half in particular stepping off 184 yards before halftime while holding the Wildcats to 76 yards passing through two quarters.
DeVonte Haggerty’s 20-yard gain on third down positioned JT for the initial score, a 2-yard keeper by Ward.
The Lions followed the same formula on its next possession, picking up 60 yards rushing on a 64-yard drive. Ross sprinted the final six yards up the gut after JT optioned out a diamond formation, doubling its lead to 14-0.
Whitehouse moved the ball effectively on the ensuing series, only to be stripped by Devonte Jones of the ball inside the 10-yard line, where JT’s Traven Johnson recovered at the JT 1.
JT trekked the length of the field, with Ross taking a handoff in motion to the left and cutting on a dime the other way en route to a 35-yard score to open up a 21-point lead.
“We spotted them 21 points again,” Whitehouse coach Randy McFarlin said. “The kids fought hard. We had our opportunities in the third and early fourth quarter. We gave up two scores in the end when it was over. This is a no-lose situation for us. John Tyler’s got a great football team. We just have to come back and make the playoffs.”
John Tyler 42, Whitehouse 14
At Wildcat Stadium, Whitehouse
John Tyler 7 14 7 14 — 42
Whitehouse 0 0 14 0 — 14
JT—Greg Ward 2 run (Porfirio Benitez kick), 0:28
JT—Fred Ross 6 run (Benitez kick), 7:14
JT—Ross 35 run (Benitez kick), 0:57
WHI—Justin Bloom 59 pass from Hunter Taylor (Brandon Cottrell kick), 11:25
JT—Ward 5 run (Benitez kick), 10:14
WHI—Jonathan Aldridge 45 pass from Taylor (Cottrell kick), 3:17
JT—Ward 7 run (Benitez kick), 3:14
JT—Ward 8 run (Benitez kick), 1:10
First Downs 27 15
Rushes-Yards 44-355 25-117
Passing Yards 172 236
Com.-Att.-Int. 23-35-1 18-42-2
Punts-Avg. 4-33.0 4-38.5
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 2-6 5-34
RUSHING—John Tyler, Greg Ward 21-156, Fred Ross 5-82, Reggie Gipson 8-62, DeVonte Haggerty 7-44, DeQuante Woods 2-11, Justice Liggins 1-0. Whitehouse, Zen’Derrion Haskins 14-54, Isaih Burton 5-41, Hunter Taylor 6-22.
PASSING—John Tyler, Ward 23-35-1—172. Whitehouse, Taylor 18-42-2—236.
RECEIVING—John Tyler, Ross 11-111, Haggerty 4-23, Darion Flowers 3-26, Gispon 3-(-5), Woods 1-14, Liggins 1-3. Whitehouse, Justin Bloom 5-100, Jonathan Aldridge 5-66, Dylan Cantrell 2-39, Burton 2-13, Jared Raabe 2-12, Juan Martinez 1-5, Haskins 1-1.