LONGVIEW - John Tyler coach Ricklan Holmes contends that junior quarterback Bryson Smith was nervous in his first playoff game under center for the Lions.
If that was nerves, Cujo will want to pump up the anxiety level as the playoffs roll on.
Smith racked up 412 total yard of offense and accounted for four of five second-half touchdowns as John Tyler pulled away from Texas High for a 48-21 victory in the Class 5A Division I bi-district playoffs on Saturday at Lobo Stadium.
John Tyler (8-3) will now face unbeaten Mansfield Lake Ridge (11-0) at 2 p.m. Saturday in Forney.
Texas High ended its season 8-3 after being outgained 500-263 in a rematch of a bi-district game last year that JT won 58-23.
After the teams went into the halftime break tied 14-14, Smith scored three rushing touchdowns in the second half to help the Lions pull away for their eighth straight win.
"We just stayed hungry," Smith said of the second half. "We had something to prove because we really didn't show what we had (first half).
"We're just getting better and better; we're not even at our peak of the season. We're going to get deadlier and deadlier."
After accounting for 185 yards in the first half, Smith totaled 227 in the second. He finished completing 22 of 31 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns while adding a career-high 194 yards on 17 carries.
"I think he was nervous, I really do," Holmes said of Smith. "I think he was nervous that first half. He had to figure out some things and that's what it's about, about getting that experience.
"You gotta be pleased with how he played, especially with us putting up 48 points."
Damion Miller had six catches for 81 yards and a score and Duntayviun Gross added nine grabs for 77 yards for the Lions, who topped 500 yards for the second time this year (Whitehouse, 655).
The JT defense, meanwhile, shut down Tigers start running back Jakardi Witcher, who was coming off a 250-yard game the week before. Witcher led Texas High with 66 yards on 13 carries.
"Pierre (Leonard) and Braylon (Jones) do a great job up there," Holmes said of his senior defensive linemen. "Our defensive ends are helping a lot. They're young but they're learning. They're getting better every week. Linebacker play is staying consistently strong."
After not recording a turnover in the first three quarters, John Tyler picked off Texas High quarterback Cade Pearson twice in the final five minutes. Lineman Decorian Blaylock nabbed the first one and returned it 30 yards while Gross had the other, which he returned 36 yards.
Blaylock's interception set up the final score of the game as Smith hit freshman Ke'Andre Street on a 7-yard fade route. It was Street's first varsity catch.
"To be able to give a young man like that some experience at a time like this, and being able to take some of our older guys out, it helps create a little bit of depth as we go down this road," Holmes said. "The way we look at it we've got 5 more games to play."
Much like last year's game, which Texas High led 17-10 at the half, John Tyler dominated the second half.
The Lions took the opening kickoff of the third quarter 74 yards in nine plays capped by a 9-yard run by Smith on which the quarterback was in the air for the final 5. Smith made it 28-14 with 4 seconds left in the quarter before a lopsided final quarter.
Texas High had a chance to pull within 28-21 but a possible 44-yard touchdown pass went through the receiver's hands, one of three drops for Tigers receivers.
After a turnover on downs by Texas High, Dejuan Beal scored from 7 yards out. Shortly thereafter, Smith added his third touchdown run on a 13-yard scamper to make it 41-20 with 5:46 to play.
Beal ran nine times for 41 yards to carry the load after James Allen (10 for 38) was shaken up midway through the third quarter.
Damion Miller hauled in a 19-yard touchdown on JT's first drive aided by an 8-yard run on a fake punt by Bryston Gipson. Pierre Leonard scored from a yard out in the first half to give him six touchdowns on 11 carries this year.
Texas High stayed close in the opening half with a 36-yard touchdown to running back DaVuntay Walker, a junior playing his first varsity game of the season after transferring from Pleasant Grove.
The Tigers tied the game at 14 with two trick plays. The first was an 11-yard double pass from receiver Quan Hampton to Pearson. The second was Hampton on a reverse pass to Tevailance Hunt for a 9-yard score after Witcher ran out of the wildcat.
It wasn't enough for Texas High, which didn't score again until 6:31 remained on a 11-yard strike from Pearson to tight end Kip Williams.
"Defense played tremendous," Smith said. "They're getting better and better just like us"
Class 5A Division I Bi-District
John Tyler 48, Texas High 21
At Lobo Stadium
John Tyler 7 7 14 20 - 48
Texas High 7 7 0 7 - 21
JT-Damion Miller 19 pass from Bryson Smith (Frankie Sanchez kick), 4:42.
TH-DaVuntay Walker 36 pass from Cade Pearson (Ethan Montez kick), 2:51.
JT-Pierre Leonard 1 run (Sanchez kick), 5:51.
TH-Tevailance Hunt 9 pass from Quan Hampton (Montez kick), 1:02.
JT-Smith 9 run (Sanchez kick), 8:51.
JT-Smith 5 run (Sanchez kick), 0:04.
JT-Dejuan Beal 7 run (kick fail), 8:48.
TH-Kip Williams 11 pass from Pearson (Montez kick), 6:31.
JT-Smith 13 run (Sanchez kick), 5:46.
JT-Ke'Andre Street 7 pass from Smith (Sanchez kick), 2:58.
First Downs 29 16
Rushes-Yards 43-282 25-107
Passing Yards 218 156
Comp.-Att.-Int. 22-31-0 13-27-2
Punts-Avg. 2-46.5 4-32.8
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 2-0
Penalties-Yards 13-116 6-50
RUSHING-John Tyler, Bryson Smith 17-194, Dejuan Beal 9-41, James Allen 10-38, Kiante Stoker 3-9, Bryston Gipson 1-8, Pierre Leonard 1-1, Michael Givens-Washington 1-(-3), Duntayviun Gross 1-(-6). Texas High, Jakardi Witcher 13-66, Cade Pearson 6-35, DaVuntay Walker 4-14, Deauntae Mack 1-3, Team 1-(-11).
PASSING-John Tyler, Smith 22-31-0-218. Texas High, Pearson 11-25-2-136, Quan Hampton 2-2-0-20.
RECEIVING-John Tyler, Gross 9-77, Damion Miller 6-81, Allen 3-33, Javontavius Mosley 2-13, Givens-Washington 1-7, Ke'Andre Street 1-7. Texas High, Hampton 5-51, Witcher 3-27, Kip Williams 2-22, Walker 1-36, Pearson 1-11, Tevailance Hunt 1-9.