Daylon Mack’s Last-Minute Safety Propels Gladewater to 16-14 Win Against No. 7 Daingerfield
GLADEWATER — Friday night’s Daingerfield vs. Gladewater season opener was a defense-oriented game that fittingly came down to a front-four star making a game-changing defensive play.
Junior tackle Daylon Mack stuffed Class 2A No. 7-ranked Daingerfield twice inside the Tigers’ own 1-yard line, the second resulting in a safety with 18 seconds remaining that propelled Gladewater to a 16-14 victory at Jack V. Murphy-Bear Stadium.
The 6-foot-1, 311-pounder, who holds 13 Division I FBS offers, finished the game with six tackles, two for loss, and a first-quarter punt block, but no play was bigger than his last one on the field, when he dragged down Daingerfield’s Ramius Wallace about two yards deep in the end zone for the game-winning deuce.
“I knew they were gonna double me because we were down there (near the goal line),” Mack said. “It really just came back to practice. We go over double-teams with a good offensive line we go up against every day in practice. That really came in handy, and I got the tackle.”
Facing a fourth-and-16 at Daingerfield’s 27-yard line with less than 90 seconds left, Gladewater head coach Jerrod Baugh opted to attempt to pin Daingerfield deep with a short punt. That move paid off when Hagen Cooper killed Daylon “Duke” Gordon’s punt at the 1-yard line, setting up the defense’s game-winning stand.
“If we could pin them down I felt good about our chances of at least going into overtime. I liked how our defense was playing and at the time I liked how our offense was doing,” said Baugh, whose offense gained 193 second-half yards after a 73-yard first half.
Gladewater, which got its second consecutive victory over the Tigers after last year’s 31-14 road win, trailed 7-0 at halftime and 14-7 entering the fourth quarter after Wallace’s one-yard touchdown run halfway through the third regained Daingerfield’s lead. The Bears tied the game for a second time when Marcello Jackson and the Gladewater offensive line bulled their way into the end zone from four yards less than two minutes into the fourth.
Jackson, a sophomore, finished with 68 yards on 10 carries, including an eight-carry, 60-yard, second-half performance. Junior James Reese carried 21 times for 72 yards, while sophomore Justice Centers had three carries for 60 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown 55 seconds into the third quarter to tie the game 7-7.
(Jackson and Reese) are not very big kids. That’s the reason we rotate them in there and try to keep them fresh, but they run the ball between the tackles real good and that’s what we want them to do,” Baugh said. “They’re tough runners to be that small.”
Daingerfield took the lead on the game’s second play when senior Keenan Whetstone, who played his first three years of high school football for Ore City, dashed 55 yards for a touchdown and 7-0 advantage.
Defense held from the there. The teams combined for only 143 first-half yards, while Gladewater limited the Tigers to 172 total yards and 3.5 yards per play. Whetstone had three carries for 58 yards. Quarterback Keris Alexander completed 9 of 19 passes for 72 yards, including seven throws to Keaton Key for a game-high 60 yards.
Daingerfield senior linebacker Kelshin Neal had a game-high 2 1/2 sacks. Daingerfield senior defensive back Cory Smith and senior linebacker Spencer Alexander each recovered a fumble.
Gladewater’s defense made a huge play with about eight minutes left in the game. Daingerfield faced a fourth-and-1 near midfield when Gordon forced a fumble on a nine-yard loss, and Cooper jumped on it to flip field position in the Beas’ favor, something they had virtually the entire second half.
Baugh and the Gladewater coaching staff frequently substituted on the defensive front, including Mack, which resulted in the Bears’ defense being fresh for the game-winning stop in the final minute.
“Finally we have enough guys here to where we’re playing a set of guys on offense and a set of guys on defense, and to me it showed tonight on what kind of bonus that gives us,” Baugh said. “To be able to pull Daylon out and give him a break for a couple of plays, then he’s got some gas at the end of the game to be able to make the plays.”
Gladewater junior quarterback Nick Canaguier completed 7 of 8 passes for 72 yards. Junior receiver Bailey Glenn’s 31-yard catch-and-run set up Jackson’s game-tying four-yard touchdown early in the fourth.
Gladewater visits Pittsburg (1-0) next week, while Daingerfield hosts Atlanta (0-1).
Gladewater 16, No. 7 Daingerfield 14
Jack V. Murphy-Bear Stadium, Gladewater
Daingerfield — 7 0 7 0 — 14
Gladewater — 0 0 7 9 — 16
D — Keenan Whetstone 55 run (Whetstone kick) — 11:34
G — Justice Centers 57 run (Marcello Jackson) — 11:05
D — Ramius Wallace 1 run (Whetstone kick) — 5:48
G — Jackson 4 run (Jackson kick) — 10:13
G — Daylon Mack safety — 0:18
First downs 9 9
Total yards 172 266
Rushes-yards 30-100 46-194
Passing yards 72 72
Comp.-Att.-Int. 9-19-0 7-8-0
Penalties-yards 3-20 3-35
Fumbles-lost 4-1 3-2
Punts-Avg. 6-26.8 4-26.0
Rushing — Daingerfield: Keenan Whetstone 3-58 (1 TD), Cordarius Anderson 6-43, Demontre Neal 6-15, Keris Alexander 3-10, Ramius Wallace 6-8 (1 TD), Denzel Mims 1-0, Calvin Bryant 3-(-2), TEAM 2-(-32). Gladewater: James Reese 21-72, Marcello Jackson 10-68 (1 TD), Justice Centers 3-60 (1 TD), Daryl Polk 6-14, Austin Jalomo 1-0, TEAM 1-(-2), Nick Canaguier 4-(-20).
Passing — Daingerfield: Keris Alexander 9-19-0 72; Gladewater: Nick Canaguier 7-8-0 72.
Receiving — Daingerfield: Keaton Key 7-60, Cordarius Anderson 1-6, Denzel Mims 1-6. Gladewater: Bailey Glenn 2-35, Justice Centers 2-15, Daryl Polk 2-13, James Reese 1-9.