WACO -- John Tyler did better than most against Klein Collins' defense. But just marginally better.

Collins clamped down on the Lions' arsenal of offensive weapons and cruised to a 56-14 victory in Saturday's Class 6A Division II, Region II semifinal playoff game at Baylor's McLane Stadium.

"That's a great football team," John Tyler head coach Ricklan Holmes said. "That's a team that's been well coached, is doing some things and is being successful. There's a reason they were 11-1. There's a reason that they gave Katy everything they could take. Today, they played better than John Tyler did.

"We always say that the team that plays the best is the one that's going to win. Today, Klein Collins did."

 

Lions linebacker Shaundrick Williams wraps up Klein Collins' D'Anthony Doyle in a back-and-forth first quarter full of defensive stops.

The contest looked like it would be a great one through four drives between the two teams. Each possession ended with a punt.

That was one way for the Lions (11-2) to work around a Collins (12-1) defense averaging just 11.5 points per game through its first 12 contests. If Collins couldn't score, it didn't much matter how well its defense played.

But John Tyler blinked first in the defensive showdown. Its offense had to punt the ball away from its own 4-yard line and Collins won possession at the Lions' 35-yard line for its third drive of the first quarter.

Collins quarterback Brett Bridges connected with Jaylon Johnson for a 35-yard score seconds later, and Collins added two more touchdowns for a 21-0 edge midway through the second period.

Bryson Smith and his East Texas side never moved the ball with the same ease. Collins was well aware of Smith's mobility on the ground and dedicated a linebacker, usually junior Donavan Mutin, to move around with Smith at least until the quarterback threw the ball downfield.

Teams have tried that on Smith before, but Mutin was the most successful of any linebacker. The defense as a whole sacked Smith five times, which helped the Collins defense hold Smith to a John Tyler-best 55 yards on 17 carries.

Smith did throw for 305 yards on 22 completions, but, the closer the Lions got to the end zone, the less ground Collins had to cover.

It took John Tyler three trips onto Collins' side of the field before it got its first of just two touchdowns. The score was a 59-yard pass from Smith to Michael Givens-Washington -- a lucky break reliant on blown coverage.

An interception, two fumbles lost, four punts and four turnovers on downs as the Lions got more desperate were more than enough to stop the season in its tracks.

"They had a good defensive scheme," Smith said. "I don't want to say that they shut me down, but it was close. It just happened. We just had to be more prepared, we weren't and it showed."

Collins took a 28-6 lead to the locker room and owned a 42-6 lead at the start of the fourth quarter.

Smith ran in from 17 yards and dived in for a two-point conversion to make the score a little closer. Collins retaliated with two touchdowns in throwaway time.

It was still a successful year for a successful program. Especially considering outlooks varied for the Lions before the season.

On one hand, it was a talented team returning the bulk of its best players from a rebuilding season in 2015 that still resulted into a two-round trip into the playoffs. On the other, the program was being promoted from Class 5A to 6A and was liable to play schools as big as three times John Tyler High School's size.

The Lions answered with a 9-1 regular season blemished by a one-point loss and won the District 11-6A crown. Then they scraped by Lufkin and hammered Dallas Jesuit for the date with Collins.

"People that are alumni say there's nothing like John Tyler football," senior receiver Damion Miller, a Texas commitment, said. "There's not. This is my last game, and it hurts. That's the last time we're in our gear, padding it up. It hurts real bad. We've been building and building. We just didn't do it this year."

Smith and Miller have exhausted eligibility, but several other key Lions will be back for another 6A endeavor next season.

Offensively, receiver Michael Givens-Washington might lead the charge as a senior. He caught 10 balls for 141 yards in the season-ending loss.

Running back Cameron Grant will be back as a junior.

Linebacker Tre Allsion and end DeKalen Goodson are the best-known quantities of what will be the Lions' 2017 defense. There are worse places to start a season than bringing back those two Mississippi State targets for their senior seasons.

"There's more to me than wins and losses," Holmes said. "It's about what these young men have accomplished over their four-year careers. This senior class, the Class of 2017, has done a great job. They're left a mark that tradition is built on. With that being said, I'm looking for bigger and better things to come from the next class."

John Tyler's Damion Miller hauls in a 15-yard pass in Saturday's 56-14 loss to Klein Collins.

Klein Collins 56, John Tyler 14

Class 6A Division II, Region II Semifinal Game
At McLane Stadium, Waco

John Tyler                0        6          0        8    --      14
Klein Collins           14       14        14       14    --     56

First Quarter
KC--Quinton Newton 35 pass from Brett Bridges (Jonathon Bucio kick), 3:37
KC--D'Anthony Doyle 59 pass from Jaylon Johnson (Bucio kick), :14
Second Quarter
KC--Josh Powell 9 run (Bucio kick), 6:23
JT--Michael Givens-Washington 59 pass from Bryson Smith (kick blocked), 1:50
KC--Johnson 37 pass from Bridges (Bucio kick), :14
Third Quarter
KC--Doyle 3 run (Bucio kick), 9:06
KC--Doyle 2 run (Bucio kick), 2:19
Fourth Quarter
JT--Smith 17 run (Smith run), 9:53
KC--Isaiah Spiller 6 run (Bucio kick), 6:45
KC--Powell 53 run (Bucio kick), 4:57

                                         JT                    KC
First Downs                       16                    19
Total Yards                       380                 501
Rushes-Yards                27-75               49-293
Passing Yards                  305                  208
Comp.-Att.-Int.              22-38-1           9-16-0
Punts-Avg.                     4-35.5               1-35.4
Fumbles-Lost                    3-1                  2-0
Penalties-Yards                5-46               6-54

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING--John Tyler, Bryson Smith 17-55, Cameron Grant 10-20. Klein Colins, D'Anthony Doyle 30-166, Josh Powell 8-104, Isaiah Spiller 7-39, Brett Bridges 3-(-2), TEAM 1-(-14).
PASSING--John Tyler, Smith 22-38-1--205. Klein Collins, Bridges 8-15-0--149, Quinton Newton 1-1-0--59.
RECEIVING--John Tyler, Michael Givens-Washington 10-141, Ke'Andre Street 4-77, Devlen Woods 3-59, Damion Miller 2-21, Jaivon Williams 1-7, Cameron Grant 1-1, KeEric Franklin 1-(-1). Klein CollinsJaylon Johnson 5-81, Doyle 1-59, Newton 4-40, Jackson Loftin 1-28.