Nacogdoches Knocks Off Kilgore, 37-20, in Season Opener
KILGORE -- The Nacogdoches Dragons have already matched their 2017 win total after just one game of the 2018 season.
The Dragons, with quarterback Jake Smith and his receivers Karlus Flanagan and Jatavious Deckard clicking and a running game led by Camorian Thacker, knocked off Class 4A playoff mainstay Kilgore, 37-20, Friday night at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium.
Smith went 13 of 18 for 210 yards and two touchdowns, one of them a 60-yard touchdown to Deckard and the other a 72-yarder to Flanagan. Thacker led a Nacogdoches rushing attack that had 205 yards.
The Bulldogs (0-1) just couldn't quit shooting themselves in the foot. A fumble inside Kilgore's own 20-yard-line led to Nac's first score, a 5-yard run by Thacker, and a snap on a punt that went awry on the Bulldogs' next possession gave the Dragons the ball at Kilgore's 24-yard-line. Thacker got into the end zone again on a 2-yard run to put his team up 14-0 with just less than 11 minutes remaining in the first half.
An interception by Ke'Andre Deckard of Kilgore quarterback Gus Witt gave the Dragons the ball back yet again, and spoiled a good kick return by Nesba Brown. Nac got ambitious and Smith dropped back and found Jatavious Deckard streaking along the Bulldogs' sideline. Smith hit Deckard in stride, and Deckard had to foot-race Kilgore's Deiontrae Wheat into the end zone, but he made it, a 60-yard play that gave the Dragons a three-touchdown advantage.
In the third quarter, Smith and Deckard hooked up for a 34-yard pass play, and Damorian Thacker eventually scored on a 4-yard run on the drive. There was a bit of controversy, as it looked like Wheat took the ball from Deckard on a pass inside Kilgore's 10-yard-line. Wheat ran the opposite way, the length of the field, and the Kilgore crowd cheered for the apparent touchdown. But officials ruled the forward progress had stopped, and Nac kept possession; Damorian Thacker scored a couple of plays later.
Nac stretched its lead to 35-0 in front of a shocked crowd, when Flanagan went to the house for a 72-yard score.
The Bulldogs got three touchdowns, though: a 77-yard run by Kennieth Lacy; a 2-yard run by Lacy after Justin Henderson recovered a muffed Nac punt; and a 5-yard touchdown on a pass from Witt to Wheat. But after the second Lacy touchdown, Levi Bell of Nac picked up a blocked extra point and returned it for a two-point conversion. Wheat's touchdown was the final score of the game, with just under seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Kilgore hosts Hallsville next Friday night. Nacogdoches (1-0) visits Lufkin.