[By Cliff Gibson, Special to ETSN.fm]

MESQUITE – When John Tyler quarterback Greg Ward left the game midway through the third period, it looked as if the Lions’ 4-point lead was in danger. And when Mesquite Horn stole that lead early in the fourth period, the sputtering Lions looked as good as done.

Not so much.

Ward returned to the game midway through the fourth period, throwing for one touchdown and running for another to help spoil the Jaguars’ homecoming and leave with a 35-30 victory at E.H. Hanby Stadium.

John Tyler defensive lineman Kavante Jefferson pressures Mesquite Horn quarterback Destri White on Friday night. (Jaime R. Carrero, ETSN.fm)

John Tyler (3-1) – ranked No. 4 in the Class 4A by the Associated Press – handed the Jaguars (2-2) their second straight loss, but it wasn’t easy. Ward completed 16-of-20 passes for 219 yards and three scores to three different receivers while Horn quarterback Destri White was solid with 275 total yards (219 passing) and three touchdowns as the Jaguars outgained John Tyler by almost 50 yards. Three turnovers by Horn made a big difference in this game while the Lions didn’t give the ball away.

Ward was helped off the field with 7:30 left in the third period with the Lions leading 21-17. Midway through the final quarter, Horn turned a fourth-and-4 from the John Tyler 9 into a touchdown as White found senior tight end Jacob Meyer on a misdirection play to put the Jaguars in front by a 24-21 count.

But then Ward returned, and the game took a dramatic turn.

He found Fred Ross for six yards on his first pass attempt, and followed it with a strike to Tyus Bowser on a slant route, which Bowser wrestled away from a defender and turned into a 38-yard touchdown that put the Lions in front for good. Bowser would sack White to end the Jaguars’ next possession, leading to Ward’s dazzling scamper over, around and through the Horn defense for a 31-yard touchdown to make it 35-24.

Horn drove down the field in the closing minutes to make it a 5-point game, but the Jaguars failed to get the onside kick to travel the required 10 yards, allowing John Tyler to run out the clock.

The Lions got off to a fast start in the opening period, stopping a Horn drive and scoring on their third play from scrimmage when Ross (151 total yards, 2 TD) ran left and scooted upfield for a 64-yard touchdown and an early 7-0 lead.

Horn countered with a nine-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game as Treyvon Marsh (77 yards, TD) trucked over a John Tyler defender and burst through the Lion defense for a 35-yard score, tying the game with the PAT at the 5:10 mark.

After having their next series stopped without a first down, the Lions allowed Horn to drive into the red zone before junior Terry Ausborne picked off White’s pass to stop the Jaguars’ threat at the 14. After pushing back the Lions to their own 3, Horn took advantage of a 28-yard punt return from Brian O’Bannon that gave the Jags the ball in the red zone. Three plays later, White hooked up with Del’Michael High for a 16-yard score to make it 14-7.

Ross and the Lions quickly responded with the junior QB completing all five of his passes on the drive, including a 24-yarder to Justice Liggins to tie the game again at 14-14. Horn would regain the lead late in the half on a 20-yard Taylor Lewis field goal, but fumbled the ball away with just 11 seconds to play, leaving the door open for the Lions. On the next play, Ward found Ross over the middle for a 27-yard score that put John Tyler in front at the break, 21-17.

John Tyler’s Darion Flowers caught a game-high nine passes for 86 yards while Brian O’Bannon led the Jags with 80 yards on seven grabs. Kavante Jefferson and Elliot Hart recovered fumbles for the Lions.