Greg Ward Engineers John Tyler’s 35-21 Season-Opening Win Over Lufkin [VIDEO]
TYLER -- Greg Ward didn't have the pinpoint accuracy John Tyler fans have grown accustomed to, but the senior quarterback still put on a show in the third-ranked Lions' season-opening win Friday night.
Ward passed for 298 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 92 and another score to lead John Tyler past Lufkin, 35-21, at TMF Rose Stadium.
The University of Houston commit completed just 8 of 21 attempts, but threw touchdowns that covered 80, 81, 58 an 38 yards. He also added a 30-yard scoring run.
"He played like a leader," John Tyler first-year coach Ricklan Holmes said. "He made things happen when they weren't supposed to happen. He stayed positive throughout the whole deal and by doing that and showing that ... character is what it is."
Fred Ross, an Oklahoma State pledge, had 118 yards on just two catches -- both touchdowns. Running back Reggie Gipson totaled 120 yards, the bulk coming on an 81-yard TD reception on a screen pass.
"That's expected of us," Holmes said of JT's big-play potential. "We have a lot of high-powered weapons with the quarterback and receiver play. Our offensive line is getting better and now we've got a running back that can tote the note."
Lufkin, playing its first game since the passing of longtime coach John Outlaw last December, fell behind 21-0 midway through the second quarter when Darion Flowers raced 58 yards to the end zone after receiving a short pass from Ward.
But the Panthers brought the deficit to within two touchdowns on two separate occasions in the second half.
"We have got to get better at executing what we do both offensively and defensively and we're going to get there," Lufkin first-year coach Todd Quick said. "When you've got that many young kids on the field you expect some things to go wrong. It was more than what we expected, but we're going to go to work. The effort was there; the kids did keep fighting and that's a definite plus for us."
Lufkin senior quarterback Tyler Stubblefield passed for 265 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for 60 yards and two scores.
"Stubby got better," Quick said. "This is his first year to start. Every rep he takes he's going to get better. He showed signs of what he can do throwing the football and also showed signs of how he can run the football. He knows where the goal line is and he goes north and south."
The Panthers' top playmaker was sophomore Key'vantanie Coutee, who had 11 receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown. He also carried 10 times for 67 yards.
"He's one of our playmakers and we're going to get the ball in his hands as much as we can," Quick said of Coutee.
JT wasted little time in making its presence felt. On the first play of the game, Ward hit Ross in stride for an 80-yard touchdown. The Lions made in 14-0 later in the first quarter on Gipson's 81-yard catch-and-run, and went up by three scores on the Flowers' 58-yarder.
Lufkin got on the board less than a minute later on a 4-yard run by Stubblefield.
Ward's 30-yard run put the Lions up 28-7 with 1:35 remaining in the third. However, a long kickoff return by JaBryce Taylor and two Lions personal fouls penalties put the ball at the JT 20. Two plays later, Stubblefield crossed the goal line from 6 yards out to pull the Panthers to within two scores, 28-14.
Ross re-appeared for JT midway through the fourth with a full-extension, diving catch in the end zone from 38 yards out that gave the Lions a 35-14 lead.
Lufkin drove 80 yards on the ensuing possession, which ended with Stubblefield's 4-yard TD pass to Coutee.
"For what we're capable of, it was a C-plus," Holmes said. "We made a lot of mental mistakes, normally things we shouldn't be making. The thing I liked about today was my guys came out with a focus at the beginning of the game, and that's to start out fast -- something we didn't do last year."
No. 3 John Tyler 35, Lufkin 21
At TMF Rose Stadium, Tyler
Lufkin 0 7 7 7 -- 21
John Tyler 14 7 7 7 -- 35
JT--Fred Ross 80 pass from Greg Ward (Noe Diaz kick), 11:47.
JT--Reggie Gipson 81 pass from Ward (Diaz kick), 2:10.
JT--Darion Flowers 58 pass from Ward (Diaz kick), 5:36.
LUF--Tyler Stubblefield 4 run (Luis Garcia kick), 4:40.
JT--Ward 30 run (Diaz kick), 1:35.
LUF--Stubblefield 6 run (Garcia kick), 1:01.
JT--Ross 38 pass from Ward (Diaz kick), 5:27.
LUF--Key'vantanie Coutee 4 pass from Stubblefield (Garcia kick), 2:30.
First Downs 25 19
Rushes-Yards 33-142 35-202
Passing Yards 265 298
Comp.-Att.-Int. 18-40-1 8-21-0
Punts-Avg. 5-41.4 4-43.8
Fumbles-Lost 3-0 3-1
Penalties-Yards 13-84 11-101
RUSHING--Lufkin, Key'vantanie Coutee 10-67, Tyler Stubblefield 18-60, Josh Tolbert 5-15. John Tyler, Greg Ward 16-92, Reggie Gipson 9-35, Jeremy Wilson 1-26, Dyran McDuff 4-19, DeQuante Woods 2-15, Justice Liggins 1-14, Fred Ross 2-1.
PASSING--Lufkin, Stubblefield 18-40-1--265. John Tyler, Ward 8-21-0--298.
RECEIVING--Lufkin, Coutee 11-146, JaBryce Taylor 5-88, Robert Howard 2-31. John Tyler, Darion Flowers 3-81, Ross 2-118, Gipson 2-95, Nick Cain 1-4.