With the East Texas Fairground lighting up the backdrop, John Tyler coasted to another big district victory, riding a quick-strike offense to thrill the homecoming crowd.
Greg Ward warranted heavy attention, accounting for 427 yards of offense and six touchdowns as JT overwhelmed Nacogdoches 55-17 Friday night on Earl Campbell Field at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
Ward, a junior quarterback, passed for a career-high 291 yards and four scores, plus amassed a game-high 136 yards rushing and two more TDs.
Despite playing without its leader in all-purpose yards, senior athlete DeVonte Haggerty (elbow), JT’s offense rarely missed a beat while piling up a season-high 627 yards, averaging nearly 14 yards per play.
Fred Ross ran his TD-total to 11 on the young season after the junior caught four passes for 126 yards and three scores.
Reggie Gipson gave JT a big lift, rushing for six times for 103 yards and a pair of TD sprints. Gipson, a sophomore who missed most of non-district injured, added two receptions for 51 yards.
JT (2-3, 2-0 in 14-4A) received another offensive boost from junior slotback DeQuante Woods (89 total yards, TD). Woods, who also sat out the majority of non-district banged up, scored a TD 62 seconds into the second half on an electrifying 48-yard pass from Ward as JT went ahead 42-10.
Ward found Ross again for a 38-yard score in the third quarter and snuck in the ball later for JT’s last score in the fourth quarter.
“Offensively we did a good job taking care of the football,” said JT head coach Dereck Rush, whose team finished with zero turnovers. “Defensively Nac did a good job mixing it up. We practiced going against a one-back offense and they came out in a two-back offense. But our kids did a good job adjusting.”
Nacogdoches (1-4, 1-1) netted 387 yards and 24 first downs as it threw a different look than what JT saw on film. Damion Johnson paced the Dragon attack with 129 yards rushing and completed 8 of 16 passes for 95 yards and a TD.
The Dragons drove downfield on a seven-minute long drive on the opening possession before going ahead 3-0 on Tanner Dean’s 31-yard field goal.
JT responded with five TDs in its first 19 plays and carried a 35-10 lead into the intermission.
Ross leaked into the center of the Nacogdoches secondary to catch a 33-yard pass from Ward for JT’s first score on the Lions’ eighth play.
Gipson took his turn in the scoring column after taking a well-timed pitch around the right side to cap a four-play, 67-yard possession.
Ward spotted Ross again moments later on a 49-yard deep post pattern as JT upped its lead to 21-3 with a five-play, 86-yard march.
JT struck on the first play on its next two series, with Ward cutting up the heart of the defense on a 54-yard TD.
After Nacogdoches scored its first TD on Johnson’s 18-yard pass to Tim Williams, JT needed all of 14 seconds to answer.
Gipson gashed the defense right up the middle, racing untouched to a 56-yard TD as JT made it a 25-point game.
“The offensive line did a good job getting a body on a body,” said Rush, whose team goes on the road Friday to face a Pine Tree team the Lions defeated 73-6 last year. “The skill kids did a good job finding the hole and making touchdowns.”
John Tyler 55, Nacogdoches 17
At Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium
Nacogdoches 3 7 7 0 — 17
John Tyler 14 21 13 7 — 55
NAC—FG 31 Tanner Dean, 5:38
JT—Fred Ross 33 pass from Greg Ward (Porfirio Benitez kick), 3:30
JT—Reggie Gipson 12 run (Benitez kick), 0:46
JT—Ross 49 pass from Ward (Benitez kick), 7:54
JT—Ward 54 run (Benitez kick), 5:28
NAC—Tim Williams 18 pass from Damion Johnson (Dean kick), 3:53
JT—Gipson 56 run (Benitez kick), 3:39
JT—DeQuante Woods 48 pass from Ward (Benitez kick), 10:58
JT—Ross 38 pass from Ward (kick failed), 8:01
NAC—Cole Banner 9 pass from Patrick Ledet (Dean kick), 4:19
JT—Ward 1 run (Benitez kick), 7:03
First Downs 24 22
Rushes-Yards 45-225 29-336
Passing Yards 162 291
Com.-Att.-Int. 13-24-0 13-16-0
Punts-Avg. 4-40.7 1-43.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 2-0
Penalties-Yards 6-57 10-142
RUSHING—Nacogdoches, Damion Johnson 22-129, Derrick Fields 12-45, Tevin Williams 4-25, Jacques Yarbrough 4-21, Patrick Ledet 3-5. John Tyler, Greg Ward 10-136, Reggie Gipson 6-103, DeQuante Woods 4-41, Rodrick Smith 4-39, D’Carlton Grant 2-10, Duan Brooks 2-9, Team 1-(-2).
PASSING—Nacogdoches, Johnson 8-16-0—95; Ledet 5-8-0—67. John Tyler, Ward 13-16-0—291.
RECEIVING—Nacogdoches, Chandler Hamilton 5-51, Williams 2-39, Cole Banner 2-25, Michael Dove 2-28, Fields 1-13, Geoffrey Deckard 1-6. John Tyler, Fred Ross 4-126, Justice Liggins 3-40, Gipson 2-51, Darion Flowesr 2-21, Woods 1-48, Jalen Reagins 1-5.