John Tyler Tops Corsicana + Holds Onto First Place In District
CORSICANA -- Maybe John Tyler should play more Monday games.
Texas receiver commitment Damion Miller beat his average yardage per game by about 25 percent in addition to a spectacular kick return. Houston defensive end pledge Braylon Jones turned in perhaps his best defensive performance of the year. Southern University defensive tackle target Pierre Leonard scored the game-winning touchdown on offense in addition to a sack.
All the while, junior quarterback Bryson Smith drove the bus with 237 total yards and four touchdowns in the Lions' 36-14 win against Corsicana at Tiger Stadium -- the followthrough attempt at a critical District 16-5A game originally scheduled for Friday but postponed twice due to a flooded Corsicana field.
"It was fun," Leonard said. "It felt like Monday Night Football. I felt like I was primetime. Just playing football, I don't care if it's Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. As long as we're playing football, that's my main goal."
Leonard's 1-yard dive as a fullback out of the I-formation with 3:11 left in the third quarter gave the Lions a 20-14 lead they never relinquished.
The win allowed John Tyler (5-3, 5-0) to maintain its hold on first place ahead of Lufkin, which trails in the standings by a game with two contests remaining in the regular season for both teams.
Corsicana (6-2, 3-2) knew what was on the line. Had it won, it would have created a three-team tie at the top of the standings between itself, John Tyler and Lufkin.
Instead, Corsicana fell into a third-place tie with Ennis.
Both sides had plenty of time to consider the ramifications. In fact, Monday was the first time Lions head coach Ricklan Holmes had convened the team since Friday's empty trip to Corsicana.
"We gave our kids off Saturday," Holmes said. "I texted them because I was going to have them come up at 11:45 a.m. because I thought we were going to play Saturday. We went through our normal routine today as far as game day. It worked out well for us."
A minor upset appeared feasible through the midway mark of the third quarter.
Smith had to carry the Lions early with his footwork. His team dropped four first half passes and knocked the signal caller's final line to 9 of 20 for 130 yards with two touchdowns, but he ran for 54 yards in the frame and was responsible for a 14-7 lead at halftime.
Following Miller's 42-yard kick return to begin John Tyler's third drive of the game, Smith pulled down a pass attempt and ran right up the middle 14 yards to even the score, 7-7, early in the second quarter.
Smith then repaid the favor to Miller with a controversial 31-yard touchdown throw. Miller appeared to drop the ball midway through the pass-and-catch around the 15-yard line before ever having possession of it, but an official threw a bean bag to signal a fumble. So, Miller picked the ball up and went the rest of the way to close first half scoring.
Miller finished his night with four catches for 90 yards.
Corsicana disputed the call enough to draw two personal foul penalties and a Lions' kickoff from the Corsicana 30-yard line.
John Tyler's defense was never really in question though. The unit finished the game with safety Kieran Freeman's interception, his fourth of the season, and fumble recoveries by linebacker Shaundrick Williams and defensive end Gregorio Guerrero for a plus-three turnover margin.
Jones knocked loose Williams' recovery, which killed Corsicana's immediate response to Leonard's go-ahead score and a blocked PAT at the John Tyler 36-yard line, while also recording two solo tackles for no gain.
Those guys all helped force Corsicana into an additional two turnovers on downs on fake punt attempts and two real punts. They really only had two poor plays through the meeting.
Corsicana was able to take the lead, 7-0, on the first snap of the second quarter. Kishawn Kelley connected with Trevor Denbow for a 51-yard bomb.
Running back John Woods retied the game, 14-14, early in the third quarter following a failed fake punt attempt from John Tyler. A cluster of defenders missed three tackle opportunities and Woods went 16 yards to the end zone.
But the Lions' offense, which frantically closed the half threatening at Corsicana's 31-yard line following Miller's touchdown, had more consistent production after the break to support the defense. Smith guided the group to three touchdowns and a field goal in seven possessions.
Change-of-pace power back Tre Allison rumbled 11 yards in two plays to set John Tyler with second-and-goal from the 1-yard line before getting jammed his third consecutive carry. Leonard broke through the next play.
Devan Salazar's 35-yard field goal put up the first of 16 points in the fourth quarter. He also added three PATs on five attempts.
Smith scored from 41 yards out the team's next possession and then hit Duntayviun Gross for a 19-yard touchdown, what would be the pair's final snap of the game.
"I would say they're all starting to execute more of what they're trying to do," Holmes said. "They're doing the things they're coached to do in practice and they're being more disciplined. More focussed."
John Tyler's record alone indicates the strides. Holmes' team was 0-3 five weeks ago.
UIL rules stipulate football programs cannot play two consecutive contests without four full days between games. The Lions' next game will be Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at home against Jacksonville while Corsicana simultaneously visits Lufkin.
The postponement will give Jacksonville, which earned its first district win Friday, a two-day advantage in terms of rest.
Holmes isn't overly concerned. His staff took Sunday to plan exclusively for the next game.
John Tyler will skip a long-term film review of Monday's game and jump into its normal game prep routine today.
"We'll stay on schedule," the coach said. "We may be short, maybe, a couple of minutes here and there for some special teams. Other than that, we'll be fine."
John Tyler 36, Corsicana 14
Tiger Stadium, Corsicana
John Tyler 0 14 6 16 -- 36
Corsicana 0 7 7 0 -- 14
COR--Trevor Denbow 51 pass from Kishawn Kelley (Victor Cavillo kick), 11:53
JT--Bryson Smith 14 run (Devan Salazar kick), 10:57
JT--Damion Miller 31 pass from Smith (Salazar kick), 4:01
COR--John Woods 16 run (Cavillo kick), 7:14
JT--Pierre Leonard 1 run (kick blocked), 3:11
JT--Salazar 35 field goal, 11:16
JT--Smith 41 run (Salazar kick), 7:53
JT--Duntayviun Gross 19 pass from Smith (kick failed), 3:06
First Downs 15 16
Total Yards 327 353
Rushes-Yards 35-197 51-276
Passing Yards 130 77
Comp.-Att.-Int. 9-20-0--130 5-13-1--77
Punts-Avg. 4-38.0 2-58.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 4-2
Penalties-Yards 7-50 8-95
RUSHING--John Tyler, Bryson Smith 10-107, James Allen 16-41, Tre Allison 5-23, Duntayviun Gross 1-12, Damion Miller 1-7, Dicarlo Dudley 1-6, Pierre Leonard 1-1. Corsicana, Kishawn Kelley 18-123, Ja'Micha Polk 20-63, John Woods 8-41, Ike Hargrave 1-18, Trevor Denbow 1-12, Daveon Crawford 2-9, D.J. Sheffield 1-3.
PASSING--John Tyler, Smith 9-20-0--130. Corsicana, Kelley 5-12-1--77, Denbow 0-1-0--0.
RECEIVING--John Tyler, Miller 4-90, Gross 3-37, Jerry Young 1-8, Michael Givens-Washington 1-(-5). Corsicana, Denbow 1-51, Donte Polk 1-14, Ja'Micah Polk 2-6, Sheffield 1-5.