GARLAND — John Tyler geared up for what could be a long playoff run, keeping its offense in drive mode all night in a 77-20 win over Waxahachie.
Greg Ward steered the JT victory with six total touchdowns, Fred Ross, Reggie Gipson and Justice Liggins all scored twice, and the Lions defense found the end zone in the victory. JT set a new school-record for points in its return to Homer B. Johnson, the birthplace of the Cujo jerseys now a commonplace come postseason.
JT improved to 32-12 all-time in the Cujo uniforms.
The second-ranked Lions (10-1) move into the area round to face Wylie at 7:30 p.m. next Friday in Mesquite. The contest marks the first between the schools since Wylie defeated JT in the 2010 state quarterfinals.
A melee between the teams which occurred late in the third quarter on Waxahachie's sideline, marred the contest. Two JT players — safeties Terry Ausborne and Elliott Hart — received ejections, and the status of both are questionable for the area round game.
After the teams avoided the postgame handshake, first-year JT head coach Ricklan Holmes addressed his team's need to stay mentally focused going ahead.
"We've got to understand to do what we need to do, to accomplish what we need to accomplish, we have to get rid of that tough man mentality," Holmes said after emerging from the team huddle during the aftermath of the 57-point win. "When you're tough in football, you do what you do on the scoreboard, not with your mouth. We have to understand that."
JT scored on all five offensive possessions in the second half, and capped the win on a 42-yard fumble return by Jaylon Reese. The Lions created five turnovers on defense, including interceptions by Ausborne and DeAndre Miller. Richard Gipson intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble for the Lions, who achieved the 10-win plateau for the fourth consecutive season.
Ross ripped the Waxahachie defense to the tune of six catches for 180 yards and a pair of TDs. Ross reached high for a grab midway through the second quarter near midfield and used his speed to finish off an 87-yard run for a 28-13 lead. Less than three minutes later Ross struck paydirt again on a 34-yard reception from Ward, his fellow all-state teammate.
Ward completed 18 of 25 passes for 361 yards and four scores, and scooted 78 yards on 10 rushes with two TDs in the victory. Ward sparked the second-half onslaught with a 49-yard sprint 91 seconds into the second half.
Liggins and Reggie Gipson split the next four scores before the defensive TD ending a long night for the Waxahachie defense.
"We practice to put points on the board," Holmes said. "That's what we did tonight, we put the game out of reach, but what happened tarnished that."
Waxahachie (6-5) enjoyed some moments on offense, most coming courtesy of running back Treyvon Marsh, who stepped off 193 yards on 20 carries. Marsh missed the entire fourth quarter after also getting ejected in the flare-up.
JT finished with 694 yards of offense and the Lions pitched a second-half shutout as "Cujo" scored all 42 second-half points. Holmes credited longtime JT defensive coordinator Barry Anderson for the turnaround on defense.
"That comes with the adjustment coach Anderson came up with," Holmes said, "and them understanding what we needed to do to take them out the game and keep them from putting points on the board."
No. 2 John Tyler 77, Waxahachie 20
At Homer B. Johnson Stadium
John Tyler 14 21 21 21— 77
Waxahachie 7 130 0 — 20
JT—DeQuante Woods 10 run (Porfirio Benitez kick), 5:32.
WAX—Quinn Sargent 38 pass from Jake Villarreal (Dylan McLain kick), 4:33.
JT—Darion Flowers 18 pass from Greg Ward (Benitez kick), 0:22.
JT—Ward 1 run (Benitez kick), 10:14.
WAX—Treyvon Hughes 35 pass from Villarreal (run failed), 7:55.
JT—Fred Ross 87 pass from Ward (Benitez kick), 5:01
JT —Ross 34 pass from Ward (Benitez kick), 2:56
WAX—Sargent 13 pass from Villarreal (McLain kick), 0:17
JT—Ward 49 run (Benitez kick), 10:29.
JT—Justice Liggins 3 run (Benitez kick), 7:02.
JT—Reggie Gipson 1 run (Benitez kick), 2:16.
JT—Liggins 21 pass from Ward (Benitez kick), 5:48.
JT—Gipson 42 run (Benitez kick), 2:28.
JT—Jaylon Reese 42 fumble return (Benitez kick), 0:59
EST. ATT. — 3,500.
First Downs 26 23
Rushes-Yards 30-333 42-262
Passing Yards 361 197
Comp.-Att.-Int. 18-25-0 13-32-3
Punts-Avg. 2-35.5 3-36.3
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 4-2
Penalties-Yards 2-30 4-35
RUSHING—John Tyler, DeQuante Woods 6-152, Greg Ward 10-78, Reggie Gipson 3-44, Jeremy Wilson 4-29, Rod Smith 4-27, Justice Liggins 3-3. Waxahachie,Treyvon Hughes 20-193, Trevon Smith 8-33, Criss Woods 6-30, Paul Debase 2-21, Luis Duran 1-7, Payton Stewart 2-4, Isaiah Parrish 1-(-1), Jake Villarreal 2-(-25).
PASSING—John Tyler, Ward 18-25-0—-361. Waxahachie,Villarreal 11-30-3—193, Stewart 1-1-0—3, Sargent 1-1-0—1.
RECEIVING—John Tyler, Ross 6-180, Darion Flowers 5-96, Liggins 4-45, Woods 1-24,Gipson 1-16, Wilson 1-0. Waxahachie, Quinn Sargent 6-132, Hughes 3-39, Tracy Morrison 2-13, Braden Henry 1-10, Parrish 1-3.