John Tyler's defense saved enough for a rainy day, scoring the go-ahead touchdown and keeping the opposing offense out the end zone to help secure a 20-10 win over Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon (Mexico) before a constant downpour Saturday at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
Tyus Bowser returned a fumble 37 yards for a score late in the third quarter after UANL knotted the score at 10 moments earlier following a defensive touchdown of its own.
The Lions offense, which last year averaged 43 points per game, disappeared over the final 39 minutes. JT tallied 79 yards and two first downs over the final last three quarters.
JT, ranked No. 4 in Class 4A, closed out non-district at 4-1. UANL, a three-time national champion from Mexico, wrapped up its five-game tour through the United States at 1-4.
The Lions left the field immediately after the school song, with head coach Ricklan Holmes disappointed in the outcome.
"It was a terrible win," Holmes said. "It was sloppy; it wasn't John Tyler football. We went out, the elements took over and we played into their hands."
UANL's power ground game gave JT enough to handle, allowing the Tigres to run 59 plays compared to the Lions 41. The playing conditions caused havoc on JT's porous rushing attack, which finished with 57 yards total, the second consecutive week the Lions failed to top the century mark.
"Not being able to do what we need on the ground hurt us a little bit," Holmes said. "The defense got put in some (bad) situations by the offense today. But the defense played the way they were supposed to."
After trailing 10-0 through one quarter, the Mexican powerhouse from Monterrey made it a game after corralling JT punter Noe Diaz in the end zone due to a botched snap to cut the Lions advantage to eight before halftime.
Things became interesting in the third quarter when UANL linebacker Antonio Ovalle scooped up Rod Smith's fumble and raced 25 yards the other way to trim it to a two-point game. UANL opted for the two-point conversion and cashed in courtesy Americo Gonzalez' run to even the score at 10-10 nine seconds into the third quarter.
JT dodged several bullets to escape with the win, including a fumble on the ensuing possession, also recovered by Ovalle. UANL reached the JT 5 before being stopped on downs.
UANL penetrated the JT red zone again late in the third quarter before Chris Mobley forced a fumble, and Darion Flowers recovered at the Lions 12.
JT outgained UANL 184-171 for the game. The JT secondary held UANL to zero yards passing, putting the game away late on Elliott Hart's third interception of the season.
JT scored on its first two possessions, but managed only 13 total yards the final 15 minutes of the first half.
A 35-yard field goal by Porfirio Benitez, the first of two by the senior kicker, capped JT's first drive for a 3-0 lead.
The next JT possession lasted all of one play after Flowers leaked behind the coverage, pulled in a pass from Greg Ward, and motored in for a 66-yard score and a 10-0 advantage.
The teams combined for five first downs in the first two quarters. UANL's defensive line controlled the trenches early, yielding only 14 rushing yards prior to halftime.
"They didn't come way up here just to lose," Holmes said of UANL. "They came to win and fight and that's what they did. That's a true example of coming with not as much talent, but a lot of heart."
John Tyler 20, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon 10
Earl Campbell Field
At Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium
UANL 0 2 8 0--10
John Tyler10 0 7 3--20
JT - FG 35: Porfirio Benitez, 6:36
JT - Darion Flowers 66 pass from Greg Ward (Benitez kick), 3:37
UANL - Noe Diaz tackled in end zone for safety, 7:47
UANL - Antonio Ovalle 25 fumble return (Americo Gonzales run), 11:51
JT-Tyus Bowser 37 fumble return (Benitez kick), 2:46
JT - FG 23: Benitez, 1:12
First Downs 10 5
Rushes-Yards 53-171 28-57
Passing Yards 0 127
Com.-Att.-Int. 0-6-1 6-13-0
Punts-Avg. 7-33.0 6-35.8
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 3-2
RUSHING-UANL, Sergio Barbosa 25-62, Francisco Gonzalez 11-42, Americo Gonzalez 9-41, Manuel Torres 7-25, Fernando Gamez 1-1. John Tyler, DeQuante Woods 13-52, Reggie Gipson 3-10, Rod Smith 2-7, Fred Ross 1-4, Dyran McDuff 1-3, Greg Ward 7-(-9), Noe Diaz 1-(-10).
PASSING-UANL, F. Gonzalez 0-3-0--0, Jorge Chavez 0-3-1--0. John Tyler, Ward 6-13-0--127.
RECEIVING-John Tyler, Darion Flowers 2-71, Ross 2-40, Gipson 1-12, Justice Liggins 1-4.