Battle-Tested Tatum Contains Bullard For 4A D-II Playoff Win
LONGVIEW -- Tatum became one of just three five-loss teams state-wide in the Class 4A Division II playoff bracket to advance out of the bi-district round with a 49-15 drubbing of Bullard at Pine Tree's Pirate Stadium.
Saturday's win might raise some eyebrows outside of East Texas. But the Eagles, the only team of its kind remaining in grueling Region II, weren't surprised with how well they performed in their first game of the tournament.
"What these kids have done is play they best schedule in 4A. Hands down," head coach Andy Evans said after handing over the newest postseason trophy to go into Tatum's case. "There's nobody else that's played anything like what they've played in this year. We were six points shy of beating the No. 1 team (Gilmer), six points shy of beating the No. 3 team (Atlanta), seven points shy of beating the No 5 team (Hardin-Jefferson).
"We've played good enough to win, but we haven't had any breaks. Maybe we're beginning to create a break or two."
The Eagles (6-5) had Bullard on the ropes at halftime, 28-7. They scored on four of five first half drives while the Panthers (7-4) gave up two possessions on turnovers and punted a third possession away.
Tatum virtually lapped the opposition's offense in the timespan, 224 yards to Bullard's 123 yards.
Of course, the Eagles defense deserves some of the credit.
"Everybody did their thing tonight," linebacker Kyshaun Smith, who surpassed 100 tackles this season in the game, said. "We did what we were supposed to do. We read our keys and settled into the game quickly."
Win or lose, Bullard quarterback Connor Mebane imposed his will on 10 regular season opponents. He entered the playoff meeting with 2,046 total yards under his belt, but was held to a tad under 100 yards in his final high school contest.
The Eagles punished the Panthers' run game. Bullard only had three carries go for more than 10 yards against the starting defense. All of those carries came from running back Chris Bradford, the worst a 24-yard gain.
Tatum recorded seven tackles for loss. Five in the first half as it got a grip on the game.
Bullard's lone scoring drive in the first 24 minutes came after Mebane connected with Drake Daly on a fourth-and-six from Tatum's 41 for 39 yards.
The Panthers converted three fourth down attempts. A fumble and interception made the other conversions inconsequential.
The second half was more of the same from Evan's squad.
Tatum scored the first 21 points after the break before giving up a 65-yard run to backup running back Brooks Parham with 3:12 remaining on a running clock. Mebane's shovel pass to Jared Alsobrook on a fake point after kick attempt closed the day's scoring.
The Eagles opened the game with the first 12 points.
Devon Boyd capped a six-play, 57-yard drive after the first kick with a two-yard run. After Bullard closed its first drive of the game with a fumble at Tatum's 35, Denarius Earl scored his first of two touchdowns on a four-yard run. The Eagles missed a point after kick on its initial score and failed to convert a two-point play after Earl's tally.
Bullard got its sole first half score then Earl got into the end zone a second time and quarterback Chaston Brooks found Deyanta Roberson for an 11-yard touchdown with 22 seconds before the half and a 28-7 lead after back-to-back two-point conversions.
Brooks finished his day completing seven of nine passes for 144 yards. One of the two incompletions was a spike which set up the strike to Roberson.
"Last year, we lost to Godley in the playoffs after going 11-0," Brooks said. "We learned from our mistakes. Turnovers in that game really hurt us. We held onto the ball tonight and had a really good offensive flow."
Tatum forced Bullard to punt away its first possession of the second half. Power back Antonio Shaw gave the Eagles a stranglehold with a one-yard dive for a 35-7 advantage with 7:48 to play in the third quarter.
The two teams burned clock trading a fumble apiece and Josh Ivy removed all doubt with an eight-yard run on the second play of the fourth quarter.
Brooks rounded off Tatum's score sheet with a 10-yard rollout.
The Eagles will play Coldspring-Oakhurst in the area round of the 4A Division II playoffs next week. A specific time, location and date will be coordinated between the two schools.
Once that's set, Tatum will seek its seventh win of the season.
"We're planning on going 11-5," Brooks said. "That's it."
Tatum 49, Bullard 15
Class 4A Division II
Region II Bi-District Playoff
At Pirate Stadium, Longview
Bullard 0 7 0 8 -- 15
Tatum 12 16 7 14 -- 49
TAT--Devon Boyd 2 run (kick failed), 11:04
TAT--Denarius Earl 4 run (conversion failed), 1:58
BUL--Connor Mebane 1 run (Zach Aldridge kick), 5:05
TAT--Earl 4 run (Chaston Brooks run), 2:45
TAT--Deyanta Roberson 26 pass from Brooks (Devon Boyd run), :22
TAT--Antonio Shaw 1 run (Jesus Sandoval kick), 7:48
TAT--Josh Ivy 3 run (Sondoval kick), 11:46
TAT--Brooks 10 run (Sandoval kick), 4:37
BUL--Brooks Parham 65 run (Jared Alsobrook pass from Mebane), 3:12
First Downs 11 18
Total Yards 277 419
Rushes-Yards 44-221 40-275
Passing Yards 56 144
Comp.-Att.-Int. 5-9-1 7-9-0
Punts-Avg. 3-24.0 2-34.0
Fumbles-Lost 4-2 2-1
Penalties-Yards 8-57 6-45
RUSHING--Bullard, Brooks Parham 2-71, Chris Bradford 20-93, Connor Mebane 15-37, Jacob Johnson 5-17, Cade Wood 1-4, Tre Browns 1-(-1). Tatum, Devon Boyd 7-96, Josh Ivy 8-58, Chaston Brooks 5-45, Denarius Earl 8-31, LeMarcus Harmon 3-28, Austin McGee 3-10, Carlos Pocosangre 3-9, Dameion Spears-Mitchell 1-5, TEAM 1-(-3), D.J. Toliver 1-(-4).
PASSING--Bullard, Mebane 5-9-1--56. Tatum, Brooks 7-8-0--137.
RECEIVING--Bullard, Drake Daly 2-52, Chris Bradford 2-2, Jared Alsobrook 1-2. Tatum, Earl 3-92, Deyanta Roberson 3-44, Shea Rodgers 1-8.