Final score: John Tyler 48, Texas High 21
Quotable: “The kids turned it around. Starting to do things more consistently to keep this team rolling and have another week of practice. That’s an attest to this senior class and how these underclassmen feel about them; they’re not ready for them to leave yet.”
-Ricklan Holmes, JT head coach
Turning point: Receiving the opening kickoff of the second half, John Tyler drove 74 yards in nine plays to go up 21-14 and spark a 20-0 run that put the game away. Like last year’s meeting, the Lions dominated the second half to pull away for the win.
The game was over when: After Texas High pulled within 34-21, Damion Miller recovered an onside kick and four plays later Bryson Smith ran in his third touchdown of the day for a 41-21 lead with 5:46 to play.
Key stats: Tigers running back Jakardi Witcher, who had torched opponents this year, including 250 yards the week before, was held to 66 yards on 13 carries. Texas High ran 52 plays at 5.1 yards each while JT had 74 plays at 6.8 yards per play.
Warning signs: The Lions had a couple special teams mistakes: a 45-yard field goal attempt was blocked and returned 40 yards at the end of the first half and the Tigers retained possession after a punt when a JT player tracking back tried unsuccessfully to field a short punt.
Positive signs: The Cujo offense was balanced and efficient; JT threw for 218 yards and ran for 282. Eight different players ran the ball and six different players made catches.
What this win means: The Lions advance to the second round of the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years. In that span, JT is 5-1 in area playoffs.
Fast forward: John Tyler (8-3) takes on undefeated Mansfield Lake Ridge (11-0), ranked No. 7 in the final AP poll of the season. The game is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Forney City Bank Stadium in Forney. Lake Ridge routed Dallas Samuell 63-12 in the opening round and last year knocked Longview out of the playoffs in the area round before falling to McKinney North 56-42. JT beat North 64-40 the following week to reach the state semifinals.
- Travis Yoesting