No. 9 John Tyler Uses Stout Running Game + Punishing Defense to Rout Nacogdoches, 44-14
TYLER -- If John Tyler's defense puts Friday night's performance against Nacogdoches on repeat in the playoffs, the Lions should be around a while.
JT's defense dominated a normally stout Nacogdoches running game and Jeremy Wilson scored twice on the ground in the Lions' 44-14 dominating season finale at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
The ninth-ranked Lions (8-2, 6-1), who finished second in District 16-5A will carry plenty of momentum into the first round of the playoffs next week when they face Texas High at 7:30 p.m. Friday (Nov. 14) at Longview's Lobo Stadium in bi-district.
Nacogdoches (7-3, 4-3) will face Marshall at 7:30 p.m. Friday (Nov. 14) at Pine Tree's Pirate Stadium.
Nacogdoches running back Coronado Tolbert came into the game with 1,669 yards and 20 touchdowns and averaged more than 6.4 yards per carry. He finished with 21 yards on 15 attempts against JT's dominating defensive front. Tolbert's first carry of the game went for nine yards, but he didn't record a rush for more than three yards over the next 14 attempts.
JT held the Dragons to 23 yards rushing on 34 attempts, with 30 yards coming from Phillip Jones in the fourth quarter. The Lions also posted five sacks in the win.
"When you go against (Tolbert) and hold him under 100 yards, that's pretty good. So, our front seven played outstanding tonight," JT coach Ricklan Homes said. "We've just got to be sure and continue to build on that and stay on the path we're on right now."
Equally as impressive as the Lions' defense was their running game. Jeremy Wilson rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, while JT averaged more than 6 yards per carry against the Dragons defense.
Wilson recorded a 6-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter to five JT a lead it wouldn't relinquish at 10-7, and he took off on a 62-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the fourth to put the game on ice.
"Our running game has been the heart and soul of our offense this year. It opens up the passing game. And with Jeremy running the way Jeremy is running right now and our offensive line blocking the way they are now, that helps us," Holmes said.
With JT's rushing attack keeping the Nacogdoches defense on its toes, that allowed quarterback Geovari McCollister to do his thing in the pocket. Besides running for 67 yards, McCollister was 15 of 22 passing for 150 yards and two touchdowns, both coming in the third quarter after long punt returns to give JT two short fields.
The Dragons only trailed 17-14 at halftime after Hunter McClellan scored on a 2-yard run with 27 seconds left in the second quarter. But things fell apart in the second half; Nacogdoches posted just six total yards after halftime -- and that's with 30 yards on the ground from Jones.
Duntayviun Gross returned a punt 31 yards to the Nacogdoches 21 after the Dragons went three-and-out to open the second half. Three plays later McCollister found Damion Miller for an 8-yard touchdown to give JT a 23-14 lead.
Nacogdoches went three-and-out again on its next possession, and again JT used a long punt return to set up shop at the Dragons 27. Six plays later McCollister found Bryson Smith on a fade in the corner of the end zone to put JT up 30-14.
JT, which had two long touchdowns called back in the second half, responded to a Nacogdoches punt with Wilson's 62-yard touchdown run to go up 37-14. The Lions followed with a 10-yard punt return for a touchdown on a kick that bounced off a Nacogdoches blocker's helmet and eventually found itself in the hands of Deandre Williams.
Nacogdoches had a 7-3 lead entering the second quarter after McClellan hit Alex Gregory for a 50-yard touchdown. But the Dragons would only record two more plays of at least 15 yards, while John Tyler took command.
"Hopefully we can continue to build on this and get better ... enough to beat Texas High next week," Holmes said.
John Tyler 44, Nacogdoches 14
At TMF Rose Stadium, Tyler
Nacogdoches 7 7 0 0 -- 14
John Tyler 3 14 13 14 -- 44
JT--Luis Duran 28 FG, 8:04
NAC--Alex Gregory 50 pass from Hunter McClellan (Rudy Fuentes kick), 6:19
JT--Jeremy Wilson 6 run (Duran kick), 5:33
JT--Pierre Leonard 3 run (Duran kick), 2:25
NAC--McClellan 2 run (Fuentes kick), :27
JT--Damion Miller 8 pass from Geovari McCollister (kick failed), 9:20
JT--Bryson Smith 3 pass from McCollister (Duran kick), 5:00
JT--Wilson 62 run (Duran kick), 10:11
JT--Deandre Williams 10 punt return (Duran kick), 7:35
First Downs 11 22
Total Yards 139 362
Rushes-Yards 34-23 34-205
Passing Yards 116 157
Comp.-Att.-Int. 7-14-1 16-24-0
Punts-Avg. 6-29.3 2-35.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 3-1
Penalties-Yards 4-30 7-60
RUSHING--Nacogdoches, Phillip Jones 6-30, Coronado Tolbert 15-21, James Oglesbee 2-(-5), Team 1-(-9), Hunter McClellan 10-(-12). John Tyler, Jeremy Wilson 16-126, Geovari McCollister 10-67, Bryson Smith 1-7, Nicholas Cain 1-3, Pierre Leonard 1-3, Team 1-0, Dejuan Beal 4-(-1).
PASSING--Nacogdoches, McClellan 7-14-1--116. John Tyler, McCollister 15-22-0--150, Smith 1-2-0--7.
RECEIVING--Nacogdoches, Tae Thomas 3-45, Alex Gregory 2-68, Josh Thompson 2-3. John Tyler, Damion Miller 4-57, Wilson 3-20, Cain 2-28, Rodney Bendy 2-19, Duntayviun Gross 2-12, Leonard 1-11, Beal 1-7, Smith 1-3.