No. 4 Tatum Shrugs Off Slow Start + Blows Past Kountze in Playoff Opener, 49-10
LUFKIN -- After a slow start, the fourth-ranked Tatum Eagles used a 26-point second quarter to build a nice cushion and a 23-point third to put away the Kountze Lions, 49-10, in their Class 2A Division I Region III bi-district playoff at Abe Martin Stadium on Thursday night.
Tatum (11-0) scored touchdowns four different ways and will move on to a rematch of last year's area-round meeting with Godley.
Tatum's defense put on a show by forcing five turnovers and limiting Kountze to zero total yards in the first half. Demetrius Hill returned an interception 18 yards for a touchdown and Jordan Nelson housed a fumble 37 yards for a score.
The Lions jumped on the board first with a blocked punt, which went out of the end zone for a safety and an early 2-0 lead.
Then Tatum got going, reeling off 26 consecutive points within the final 5:23 of the first half.
Dusty Richardson booted a 33-yard field goal, capping an 11-play drive, giving Tatum a lead it never relinquished. Less than 20 seconds later, Hill followed that with an 18-yard pick-six and a 10-2 Tatum advantage.
The Eagles only needed four plays to march 77 yards on their next possession when they ran double-reverse pass in which Kyshaun Smith connected with Deyanta Roberson for a 65-yard touchdown.
Kountze (6-5) fumbled the snap on its next punt attempt, which trickled through the back of the end zone for an Eagles safety and a 19-2 lead. And with 15 seconds remaining in the half, quarterback J.D. Taylor found Martin Williams for a 37-yard, pitch-and-catch touchdown as Tatum went into the half up 26-2.
Kountze put together its only scoring drive of the night early in the third. A seven-play, 51-yard march yielded a Grayland Arnold 1-yard plunge. The two-point conversion from Justin Harper to Rowdy Teel cut the Lions' deficit to 26-10 at the 6:55 mark.
That was all Kountze could muster.
Tatum scored the next 23 points to put away the District 10-2A Lions, who were making their first appearance in the playoffs since 1973.
Another 33-yard field goal from Richardson sandwiched two Tatum touchdown runs -- a 34-yarder by Devon Boyd and a 35-yard jaunt by Smith -- completed the scoring for the Eagles.
Smith, Boyd, and Jaylen Shans combined for 139 yards on the ground. Roberson led all receivers with 110 yards on two catches.
The Tatum defense intercepted three different Kountze quarterbacks four times, in addition to six tackles for loss and two sacks.
The game was marred by 27 penalties, 18 of which belonged to Tatum.