Lancaster succeeded in pulling a fast one on top-ranked John Tyler.
John Tyler fumbled on the last play from the 1-yard line and fell to speedy Lancaster 26-21 in a shocker Friday night.
JT (1-1) came within inches of scoring the game-winning touchdown on Rod Smith’s 3-yard run on the next-to-last play. The time on the clock expired, setting off a wild celebration on the home side. JT called its final timeout, however, before the clock hit zero, leading to the final play.
Lined up in its jumbo shotgun package, the snap from center missed its target, rolling by quarterback Greg Ward. Lancaster swarmed in to recover at the 5-yard line to end JT’s comeback. JT (1-1) claimed the No. 1 ranking earlier in the week for the first time since 1997. The Lions suffered only their third loss to a 4A opponent in three years since dropping in classification.
“That just showed that we have heart, but we’re still undisciplined,” JT head coach Ricklan Holmes said regarding the final sequence. “That (No. 1 ranking) meant nothing. It was just a ranking. It wasn’t something that was very important. It’s only the second game. It’s a buildup to what we’re trying to accomplish.
“We wanted to go 16-0, but we still have 14 games left.”
Playing without starting running back Reggie Gipson and starting middle linebacker Richard Gipson, JT sputtered most of the night. Lancaster dominated the line of scrimmage, holding JT to 96 yards rushing and finishing the night with six sacks, including two from Washington commit Daeshon Hall.
The last drive spanned six minutes and 35 seconds, with JT taking over at its own 11-yard line after a 68-yard punt rolled over the head of Fred Ross near midfield. JT overcame two penalties and a fourth-down conversion to keep the drive going, the last on Smith’s 4-yard run to the four. Smith scampered three yards on the next carry, leading to the final play.
Ward finished 17 of 28 for 226 yards. Ross caught five passes for 72 yards and two TDs. Smith scored JT’s final TD.
Lancaster (2-0) matched JT step-for-step, led by senior athlete Demarcus Ayers, a Washington State commit who registered 204 yards of offense and three TDs, including two rushing. Joseph Paden rushed for 123 yards on 11 carries for the fleet-footed Tigers (2-0).
JT fell behind 26-7 points after Ayers hooked up with Nick Harvey on a 70-yard TD pass after the Lion defender lost his footing on the play.
Ward went 8 for 8 on JT’s opening drive, capped by a 6-yard TD pass Ross for an early 7-0 lead. Lancaster held JT to 36 yards the rest of the half, scoring the final 19 points in the process.
Ayers scored on a 10-yard keeper for Lancaster’s first score, and used a ball-fake for his second score, an 8-yard carry, to put the Tigers ahead 12-7.
JT fumbled away the ball on the ensuing kickoff but failed to capitalize after getting inside the red zone.
Lancaster forced a three-and-out and used a 25-yard punt return for prime field position. After an offsides penalty, Paden pranced 44 yards to the end zone to help Lancaster take a 19-7 advantage late in the first half.
“The mistakes that we made at the beginning hurt us,” Holmes said. “We can’t keep making those small mistakes and think we’ll come back and win. We dug a hole that we couldn’t get out of.”
LIONS’ TALES: Former John Tyler principal Michael McFarland now serves as the Lancaster ISD Superintendent. JT’s previous No. 1 ranking, in 1997, lasted for eight weeks. Previously, JT spent the entire 1995 regular season ranked No. 1 in the state after a title the previous year. The 1974 JT team, also the defending champions, reined No. 1 in the polls for more than two months.
Lancaster 26, No. 1 John Tyler 21
JT-Fred Ross 6 pass from Greg Ward (Noe Diaz kick), 1:51
LAN -DeMarcus Ayers 10 run (PAT failed), 0:24
LAN-Ayers 8 run (pass failed), 6:01
LAN-Joseph Paden 44 run (Brent Griffin kick), 1:09
LAN-Nick Harvey 70 pass from Ayers (Griffin kick), 7:04
JT-Ross 13 pass from Ward (Diaz kick), 5:29
JT-Rod Smith 1 run (Diaz kick), 0:48
Penalties-Yards 12-95 14-100
RUSHING-John Tyler, DeQuante Woods 7-28, Greg Ward 22-25, Rod Smith 7-23, Fred Ross 4-14, Dyran McDuff 2-6, Justice Liggins 1-1, Jeremy Wilson 1-(-1). Lancaster, Joseph Paden 11-123, Demarcus Ayers 12-86, Nick Harvey 2-4.
PASSING-John Tyler, Ward 17-28-0—226. Lancaster, Ayers 6-14-1—118.
RECEIVING-John Tyler, Darion Flowers 5-82, Ross 5-72, Liggins 3-24, Nick Cain 1-23, Wilson 1-14, Woods 1-9, McDuff 1-2. Lancaster, Harvey 4-97, Craig White 2-21.