District Foes Atlanta + Tatum Meet Again In Third Round Of Playoffs
CLASS 4A DIVISION II
Region II Semifinal
Atlanta Rabbits (11-1)
Tatum Eagles (7-5)
2 p.m. Saturday
Pirate Stadium, Longview
- Atlanta: Matt McClure
- Tatum: Andy Evans
- Winner faces winner between Gilmer and Gladewater, 4A Division II Region II final
- QB Chase Musgrove, Sr., 5-11, 175
- RB DeQuan Allen, Sr., 6-0, 185
- WR Eddrick King, Sr.
- RB/DB Jeremy Smith, Jr.
- LB Cameron Schulz, Sr., 6-0, 200
- OL Cole Davis, Sr., 5-10, 245
- DB D'Corey Larry, Jr.
- DL Tristan Allen, Soph.
- LB Kyshaun Smith, Sr., 6-1, 180 (110 tackles, 2 for loss)
- RB/LB Devon Boyd, Sr., 5-10, 180 (72 carries, 500 yards, 5 TDs; 10 catches, 133 yards, TD; 56 tackles, 3 for loss, sack, INT, 3 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles)
- QB Chaston Brooks, Sr., 6-0, 190 (53 of 96, 877 yards, 14 TDs, 5 INTs; 52 carries, 228 yards, 4 TDs; 77 tackles, 2 for loss, INT, 4 PBUs)
- WR Deyanta Roberson, Sr., 6-2, 190 (33 catches, 521 yards, 11 TDs)
- ATH J.D. Taylor, Jr., 6-2, 180 (42 of 81, 623 yards, 4 TDs, 4 INTs; 51 carries, 233 yards, 4 TDs)
- RB Denarius Earl, Jr., 5-6, 150 (41 carries, 288 yards, 3 TDs; 5 catches, 129 yards)
- DB Jordan Nelson, Sr., 6-0, 170 (92 tackles, 2 for loss, 2 INTs, 8 PBUs; 2 defensive TDs)
- WR Martin Williams, Sr., 6-3, 190 (28 catches, 540 yards, 2 TDs)
Just the facts
- Atlanta's 11 wins are its most since 2003's state championship team.
- Tatum has not advanced past the third round of the playoffs since 2011.
- For the season, Tatum is averaging 34.2 points and 331.6 yards per game -- 202.9 rushing and 128.7 passing.
- Tatum has outscored its two playoff opponents by an average of 28.5 points.
- The cumulative record of Tatum's opponents this season is 93-44.
- For the season, Atlanta is averaging 44.5, while allowing 21.4 points per game.
- Atlanta has outscored its two playoff opponents by an average of 19 points.
- The cumulative record of Atlanta's opponents this season is 71-63.
Key matchup: Atlanta rushing attack vs. Tatum defensive front. The story behind the Rabbits' 11-win season has been its offense, led by senior quarterback Chase Musgrove and his compliment of weapons. Musgrove is among the most versatile signal-callers in all of East Texas, able to dissect defenses equally with either his arm or his legs. But lately, he's done a number on opponents by running the football. In Atlanta's two playoff wins over Melissa and Cleveland Tarkington, Musgrove has run for 395 yards and eight touchdowns. He's done well through the air, too, with 243 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns, but stopping Musgrove on the ground has proven nearly impossible in the postseason thus far. Senior running back DeQuan Allen has had a great deal to do with Atlanta's rushing attack as well, particularly in the playoffs. In his last two games, Allen has rushed for 294 yards and three touchdowns on just 33 carries. Multi-purpose backs like Jeremy Smith and Eddrick King can also cause opposing defense fits with their explosiveness out of the backfield. Atlanta has averaged 426.5 rushing yards in its two playoff wins.
In order for Tatum to come out on top, the Eagles must be able to contain the Rabbits on the ground. In Atlanta's 34-28 regular-season win, Musgrove was the difference. The Atlanta quarterback accounted for five touchdowns on the night, including three on the ground from 10, 39 and 12 yards. Simply put, Tatum cannot let Musgrove's legs take off and subsequently take control of the game. The defensive game plan could call for spying by one of Tatum's outstanding linebackers Devon Boyd or Kyshaun Smith. The Eagles will still have to account for the running back Allen and the edge weapons Jeremy Smith and King, but if Tatum can effectively limit Musgrove's impact in the running game, it might be able gain some positive traction. Taking away a piece as valuable as Musgrove is much easier said than done, but that's what's needed on Tatum's behalf. If Musgrove has a big day on the ground Saturday, it could be a long afternoon for the Eagles' defense.
Don't be surprised if: The game comes down to the fourth quarter. The Week 10 encounter was not decided until Musgrove's 36-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Smith broke a 28-28 tie in the final period. Both Atlanta and Tatum appear to be as evenly matched they come, both blessed with a tremendous amount of athleticism on each side of the ball. The two quarterbacks involved -- Musgrove and Tatum's Chaston Brooks -- are among the most athletic dual-threat signal-callers in the region, and there will be a ton on their shoulders this week. It's likely both coaches will leave it up to their quarterbacks, whether that be throwing downfield or picking up tough yardage on the ground. Both the Eagles and Rabbits have explosive playmakers in the passing game, between Jeremy Smith and King for Atlanta and the duo of Deyanta Roberson and Martin Williams on the Tatum side. Each team also features strong backs. While Atlanta typically likes to stick with Allen most of the time, the Eagles have a bevy of running backs they rely on, including Boyd, Denarius Earl and Tavian Ray.