Tyler Lee coach Kurt Traylor talks about games coming down to three phases: offense, defense and special teams.
He said the Red Raiders were 1 for 3 in Friday’s 24-14 loss to Rockwall-Heath.
“You can’t make the mistakes that we did and win games,” Traylor said. “Especially in this district. You can’t get a punt blocked and fumble the ball like that. If you win the turnover battle and explosive plays, there is a 95 percent chance you will win the game. We didn’t win either one.”
Lee (3-1, 0-1 in 11-6A) fumbled seven times in the contest. The Red Raiders were able to scramble and recover five of them, but most of those recoveries yielded negative yardage plays that eventually stopped drives.
Robert E. Lee still passed for 218 yards and rushed for 169 despite those negative plays.
Traylor said the Red Raiders were able to hang with Rockwall-Heath (3-1, 1-0 in 11-6A) thanks to their defense, which continued to answer the bell.
Of Heath’s 24 points, 17 of them came from driving the football. The other seven came courtesy of a blocked punt that gave the visitors possession near the Lee end zone.
Lee gave up 29 yards passing and 249 yards rushing in the loss.
“Our defense played their tails off once again,” Traylor said. “Offensively, we are just struggling. We can’t put it together. But that was also a very good defensive team we faced. Heath returned nine starters on defense.”
Traylor added that he received a weekly stat sheet that comprises all of the district statistics and Heath is the top defense in the league. Longview is second and Lee is third.
The Red Raiders had an opportunity to take the lead in the first quarter with Lee driving inside the Heath 15 to the 11. Lee faced a fourth-and-3. Rather than trying a field goal with new kicker Mason Magers, who is perfect on extra points but hasn’t yet attempted a field goal in a game, Traylor opted to go for it.
Lee ended up a yard short.
“I’ve beat myself for not kicking it and I told our players afterward,” Traylor said. “We should have taken some points from that drive. I should have kicked it, but I wanted them to know that we’re here to play and was confident in our defense.”
Heath drove back the other way and kicked a field goal for a 3-0 second quarter lead. The blocked punt then gave the Hawks the platform to make it 10-0.
The Red Raiders hadn’t been able to get going after failing on that fourth down, but on third and long from his end zone, quarterback Chance Amie spotted Marquis Gray behind his defender and lofted it deep. The ball hung in the air a little long, allowing the Heath defender to catch up, but Gray still was able to out jump him for a big gain.
With new life, Lee continued the drive until it looked like the clock may run out on the first half. Facing a fourth down from the 20 and seconds ticking away, Amie did a fake spike and placed a pinpoint pass to Gray in the end zone, who fought through what would’ve been pass interference to catch a 20-yard touchdown.
“I felt like we had to score going into the half and that was a heck of a throw and catch,” Traylor said. “Marquis also sold (that fake spike) like you wouldn’t believe (before taking off).”
The Red Raiders were stopped in the third quarter while Heath increased its lead to 24-7. Lee cut into that deficit early in the fourth on a 5-yard TD run by Amie and had two more chances to come all the way back, but both drives ended in turnovers on downs.
Traylor said Lee showed just as many positives as negatives in the loss and now must refocus and get ready for a trip to Longview on Friday.
“We have to focus on us getting better. We have to execute on offense. There are times when we look like we’re clicking and then we do something that just kills us,” Traylor said. “I don’t see anyone going undefeated in this district. You are battling your tail off every week. You could really lose two or three games and still make the playoffs.”
The Red Raiders will face Longview, which also lost its district opener 52-34 at Mesquite Horn, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lobo Stadium.