FORNEY - The omens were ominous and numerous.
John Tyler players were unable to run through their inflatable helmet and tunnel due to strong winds; Mansfield Lake Ridge's inflatable eagle stayed grounded, allowing its players to pass through.
Senior Pierre Leonard's flag pole as he led the Lions onto the field to start the game snapped in two under pressure from the heavy gusts.
With the winds blowing at a consistent 20 mph throughout the game, Lake Ridge stuck to its ground game for 520 yards to pull away from John Tyler for a 77-51 victory in their Class 5A Division I area playoff game Saturday at City Bank Stadium.
Three Eagles players rushed for at least 148 yards and three touchdowns as Lake Ridge (12-0) stayed unbeaten to advance to the regional round next week against Mesquite Poteet, a 46-43 winner over Wylie East.
The Lions (8-4) had their eight-game winning streak snapped and will miss playing past Thanksgiving for the second time in seven years.
"It's going to be weird," Holmes said of having Thanksgiving off. "But to have the season we had this year, it was pretty special. Yeah, we're disappointed we didn't get to move on, but as far as frustration, there is no frustration."
John Tyler was outscored 42-0 when going against the wind, winning the two quarters with the wind 51-35. Lake Ridge hadn't allowed anyone to score more than 35 points prior to Saturday.
The Eagles had the wind first and went up 21-0 after one quarter, including scoring a couple plays after the Lions lost a fumble on the first snap of the game.
"You play outside; you don't play inside," JT coach Ricklan Holmes said of the wind. "You've got to be able to overcome that, you've got to be able to deal with that. For the most part I think we adjusted pretty well. That quick 21 points early put us in the hole and we kept playing and put ourselves in position to come out with a win, it was just too little too late."
The Lions never quit fighting, pulling within 35-23 by halftime thanks to two scores within 21 seconds late in the half.
A similar outburst - two touchdowns within 9 seconds - pulled JT within 56-37 with 11:35 to play.
"They're not going to give up; they're going to keep fighting always to the end," Holmes said of his team. "They kept fighting and I'm proud of them for that."
John Tyler junior quarterback Bryson Smith rushed 29 times for 212 yards and four touchdowns, all season highs. He completed 8 of 22 passes for 177 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
However it was the running of Lake Ridge's Jett Duffey and Duke Carter that was decisive.
Carter, a senior running back committed to Louisiana-Monroe, racked up 197 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries. Duffey, a senior quarterback committed to Texas Tech, ran 19 times for 186 yards and three scores.
Gerard McClain added 148 yards and three scores, most coming in the fourth quarter as the Eagles averaged 8.8 yards per carry.
"Their quarterback and their running back are special," Holmes said. "They showed what they can do today."
James Allen provided 71 yards on the ground and 39 more through the air for 110 total yards for JT, catching one of Smith's two touchdowns. The Lions recovered an onside kick after Allen's score, setting up Damion Miller for a 53-yard touchdown on the next play 9 seconds later to make it 56-37.
Miller finished with two catches for 66 yards. The Lions passing game was hurt by the absence of Duntayviun Gross, the team's receptions leader, who sprained his ankle in practice Wednesday and could do nothing more than holding for freshman kicker Frankie Sanchez.
Sanchez hit a 35-yard field goal with the wind for JT's first points at the 10:24 mark in the second quarter. He also made six PATs, including one bouncing up over the cross bar.
Leonard added a rushing touchdown with 1:42 to play.
The 77 points allowed were a high this season for the Lions, who had previously allowed 69 to Robert E. Lee. The yardage numbers weren't as gaudy in that game (733 for the Red Raiders compared to 555 for the Eagles) because Lake Ridge often had short fields with which to work.
The Lions turned it over on downs three times and the Eagles blocked two punts. When JT did punt it was into the wind and the kicks went 19, 13 and 9 yards, which was better than Lake Ridge's one punt into the wind that was marked as a boot of minus-2 yards.
Holmes said he wouldn't look back much at this game, instead choosing to look forward to next season. On Friday the UIL released cut-off numbers for athletic classifications and John Tyler will be headed back to the state's largest class, 6A, for the first time in four years.
"After today, I'm going to watch this film, I'm going to get ready for 2016 season," Holmes said. "I'm going focus back on the team that's coming back at hand so we can be ready to go back to 6A at full blast."
John Tyler fell to 1-2 all-time against Mansfield schools, beating Summit 44-27 in the area round last year after falling to Legacy 35-14 in the 2013 bi-district playoffs. That loss was also on a windy afternoon in Forney, putting the Lions at 0-2 in City Bank Stadium.
Nonetheless, Holmes said the Lions will return to Forney one day.
"I'm going to come back again," Holmes said. "One day I'm going to get over the hump and as a team we're going to win here."
Class 5A Division I Area Playoffs
Mansfield Lake Ridge 77, John Tyler 51
At City Bank Stadium
Lake Ridge 21 14 21 21 - 77
John Tyler 0 23 0 28 - 51
LR-Jett Duffey 5 run (Julio Olvera kick), 11:12.
LR-Duke Carter 53 run (Olvera kick), 4:30.
LR-Carter 12 pass from Duffey (Olvera kick), 1:30.
JT-Frankie Sanchez 35 FG, 10:24.
JT-Bryson Smith 26 run (Sanchez kick), 9:21.
LR-Duffey 26 run (Olvera kick), 7:26.
LR-Carter 24 run (Olvera kick), 2:45.
JT-Smith 7 run (Sanchez kick), 1:34.
JT-Smith 10 run (pass fail), 1:13.
LR-Carter 7 run (Olvera kick), 10:57.
LR-Carter 4 run (Olvera kick), 5:12.
LR-Duffey 30 run (Olvera kick), 1:25.
JT-James Allen 29 pass from Smith (Sanchez kick), 11:44.
JT-Damion Miller 53 pass from Smith (Sanchez kick), 11:35.
LR-Gerard McClain 25 run (Olvera kick), 9:04.
LR-McClain 5 run (Olvera kick), 7:54.
JT-Smith 34 run (Sanchez kick), 6:12.
LR-McClain 48 run (Olvera kick), 4:36.
JT-Pierre Leonard 3 run (Sanchez kick), 1:42.
First Downs 3-35 23
Rushes-Yards 59-520 50-319
Passing Yards 35 177
Comp.-Att.-Int. 3-11-1 8-22-1
Punts-Avg. 2-21.5 3-13.7
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 3-35 7-55
RUSHING-Lake Ridge, Duke Carter 22-197, Jett Duffey 19-186, Gerard McClain 11-148, Adarius Freeman 1-2, Joseph Rowe 4-(-3), Team 2-(-10). John Tyler, Bryson Smith 29-212, James Allen 7-71, Ka'Darius Henderson 4-41, Dejuan Beal 5-12, Pierre Leonard 2-7, Damion Miller 1-(-1) Team 2-(-23).
PASSING-Lake Ridge, Duffey 3-11-1-35. John Tyler, Smith 8-22-1-177.
RECEIVING-Lake Ridge, Zach Jackson 1-24, Carter 1-12, Jabari Ford 1-(-1). John Tyler, Miller 2-66, Allen 2-39, Javontavius Mosley 1-27, Joshua Parker 1-22, Henderson 1-13, Michael Givens-Washington 1-10.