MESQUITE - Up 17 in the third quarter against a winless opponent last week, John Tyler looked to be rolling to a 4-0 start.
Instead, Rockwall came back and stole a 59-58 win in the District 11-6A opener on a late two-point conversion.
The loss, no matter how deflating, may serve the Lions well in the long run, JT coach Ricklan Holmes said.
"Sometimes you need that slap in the face," Holmes said. "I think our guys, our coaching staff, we got a slap in the face last week because everything that we've been harping on them about, the little things we've been harping on them about added up to be big things, that's why we lost by 1 point."
Now John Tyler (3-1, 0-1 District 11-6A) heads to the Metroplex for its one and only time in the regular season to take on North Mesquite (2-2, 1-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday from E.H. Hanby Stadium, looking to rebound from the team's first loss.
Holmes said the team had some "reminders" of the mistakes made in last Friday's loss in the form of conditioning during practice this week. The Lions committed 14 penalties for 129 yards and are averaging nearly 13 flags for 101 yards per game.
"The kids learned from it, we're going to move forward and I think we're going to be a better team for it," Holmes said. "I hate to say it, but sometimes you gotta have bad things happen to you for you to learn a lesson."
After three weeks of relying on the defense to carry the team, the JT offense led the way against Rockwall, amassing an absurd 725 yards.
Quarterback Bryson Smith racked up 614 total yards (389 pass, 225 rush) while Michael Givens-Washington caught six passes for 185 yards, more than doubling his yardage total for the year.
The Lions defense allowed 487 yards and, crucially, one more point than the Lions offense scored.
"When you score 58 points you're supposed to win a football game," Holmes said. "We didn't win. We lost by 1 point. But we put ourselves in position to win that game several times."
The Stallions are coming off a 28-25 win over rival Mesquite, a game played without Ja'Quez Gooch, a three-year starter at quarterback, who is questionable this week.
Alex Vigil completed 8 of 13 passes for 111 yards and an interception while adding 9 yards and a score on the ground in Gooch's stead. Ja'Marzeyea Arzie leads the receivers with 13 catches for 219 yards on the year and returned a punt for a touchdown against Mesquite.
Running back Dreshawn Minnieweather carried the load offensively last week, running for 182 yards to give him 483 yards for the year.
The last time these two teams played each other, North Mesquite had future Texas Longhorn running back Joseph Bergeron, who was held to 13 yards on four attempts in a 34-6 JT win in 2009.
"I remember going against a great running back last time we played against them and this running back they've got now, he's not bad either," Holmes said.
The last time JT played at Hanby Stadium was a less happy memory: The Lions lost to Aledo 44-14 in the 2014 Class 5A Division I state semifinals.
"We've got some good experiences and some bad experiences," Holmes said of playing at Hanby. "Hopefully this experience is better than our last experience."
To come out with a positive experience, the Lions will try to keep the offense clicking like it did last week while the defense reverts to the way it played in the first three games of the season.
"We want to bounce back," JT junior defensive end Dekalen Goodson said. "We want the win real bad because we're working hard in practice all week and hopefully it'll pay off in the game."
John Tyler Lions at North Mesquite Stallions
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: E.H. Hanby Stadium, Mesquite
Radio: KTBB NewsTalk 97.5-FM/AM-600, Tyler
Records: Tyler - 3-1 (0-1 District 11-6A); North Mesquite - 2-2 (1-0)
Last Week's Results: Rockwall 59, John Tyler 58; North Mesquite 28, Mesquite 25.
2015 Result: Did not play.
All-Time Series: North Mesquite leads 4-5.
Players to Watch: John Tyler - DE Dekalen Goodson (6-3, 205, Jr.), QB Bryson Smith (6-0, 170, Sr.), WR Ke'Andre Street (6-4, 194, Soph.). North Mesquite - RB Dreshawn Minnieweather (6-0, 200, Sr.), WR Ja'Marzeyea Arvie (Jr.), LB Dillon Owens (6-0, 205, Sr.).
Quick Slant: Despite playing five Dallas-area opponents in District 11-6A play, John Tyler only travels to the Metroplex once and this is the week. The Stallions are allowing 335.8 yards per game on defense and now must slow down a Lions offense averaging 489.0, including 725 yards last week. Smith completed 20 of 28 passes against Rockwall. The JT defense is giving up 349 yards per game, with Martrevious Allison and Tyus Grayson leading the way with 36 tackles apiece. Goodson has 29 tackles, seven sacks and four tackles for loss.
Quotable: "For the last previous weeks our defense had been pulling our offense. When our offense wasn't quite clicking the way it needed to the defense took care of it. But now they see that it just can't be one side of the ball. Offense just can't click; defense just can't click. Everybody's gotta click." - JT coach Ricklan Holmes.
Stadium Address: E.H. Hanby Stadium (11,950) - 410 E. Davis, Mesquite.
Next Up: Mesquite at John Tyler, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30; North Mesquite at Rockwall-Heath, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30.