NACOGDOCHES – For almost three quarters, the Tenaha defense contained San Augustine quarterback Tijay Thomas, who entered with more than 2,000 rushing yards on the season.

Then he found daylight.

Thomas’ 98-yard touchdown run with 2:04 remaining in the third quarter extended the Wolves’ lead to 10 points, and San Augustine never looked back, earning a 43-17 win Thursday night in the Class 2A Division I, Region III final at Dragon Stadium.

“(Thomas) scared me, they bottled him up,” San Augustine coach Marty Murr said. “Then all of a sudden he hit a crease, and that’s all he needs.”

San Augustine (12-2), which lost the bulk of its starters from last year’s semifinalist squad, will return to the state semifinals and meet the winner of Friday’s game between Refugio (11-2) and top-ranked Mason (13-0).

Refugio eliminated San Augustine last season, 63-21.

“We’ll pray more this week,” Murr said jokingly. “It’s the state semifinals, you’re playing for a chance to play in a state championship. It’s just about having your best game at the right time.”

San Augustine lost 15 starters from 2017, and lost to Garrison and Tenaha in consecutive weeks during non-district this season. The Wolves have now avenged both of their losses in back-to-back weeks, having eliminated Garrison last Saturday.

“I think it’s a tremendous accomplishment,” Murr said. “The thing with this group is it’s probably the most team-oriented group I’ve ever coached. They care about each other on and off the field, and they don’t care who gets the credit.”

Thomas, who had only 25 yards before his 98-yard scoring run, finished with night with 169 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.

But it was sophomore running back Kevorian Barnes, who had the magic touch for San Augustine on Thursday. He rushed for 246 yards on 19 attempts, scoring runs of 34, 53, 43, and 63 yards.

The yards and touchdowns were both season highs for Barnes.

“Kevorian Barnes played a great game tonight,” Murr said. “He had a bunch of long runs, and we mixed up some scheme stuff offensively, and it really paid off for us.”

Barnes’ 43-yard touchdown run, and the ensuing two-point conversion from Corey Clifton, gave San Augustine a 21-17 lead with 5:05 remaining in the third quarter. It started a string of 30 unanswered points to close out the game.

Tenaha (10-4) had just 136 yards and three points in the second half. San Augustine forced four turnovers as well.

“Defense has become a pride thing with us,” Murr said. “We finish practice every day with defense, our kids love it.”

Jay Lloyd led Tenaha with 126 yards and two touchdowns on 26 rushing attempts. Quarterback Hayden Jenkins was 18 of 30 for 156 yards and two interceptions.

Barnes got the scoring started when he broke free for a 34-yard touchdown run. Tenaha took advantage of bad snap on a San Augustine punt attempt, and an interception to take a 14-7 lead in the second quarter on runs by Lloyd.

Following Lloyd’s 1-yard score that gave the Tigers their first lead, Tenaha unsuccessfully attempted an onside kick, and San Augustine took over on its own 47.

Barnes scored on a 53-yard run on the next snap, but the extra point was no good, leaving Tenaha ahead 14-13 going into halftime.

Christian Castillo’s 28-yard field goal capped Tenaha’s first second-half drive, but it was all San Augustine from there.

“The thing we preach is ‘it’s about us,’” Murr said. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, it’s about us executing and us doing our job. We feel like if we show up and do our job, we’re gonna have a chance to be successful.”

San Augustine 43, Tenaha 17

Class 2A Division I, Region III Final
At Dragon Stadium, Nacogdoches

Tenaha                    0    14      3      0    –    17
San Augustine         7      6    14    16    –    43

First Quarter
SA—Kevorian Barnes 34 run (Alberto Bahena kick), 9:37.
Second Quarter
TEN—Jay Lloyd 10 run (Christian Castillo kick), 6:07.
TEN—Lloyd 1 run (Castillo kick), 2:03.
SA—Barnes 53 run (kick failed), 1:52.
Third Quarter
TEN—FG Castillo 28, 8:26.
SA—Barnes 43 run (Corey Clifton run), 5:05.
SA—Tijay Thomas 98 run (run failed), 2:04.
Fourth Quarter
SA—Thomas 21 run (DelMarquis Barnes run), 5:47.
SA—Barnes 63 run (Thomas run), 3:59.

                                     TEN                  SA
First Downs                       20                   12
Total Yards                       321                402
Rushes-Yards              42-165           38-402
Passing Yards                   156                   0
Comp.-Att.-Int.            18-32-2            0-4-1
Punts-Avg.                    1-60.0           2-40.5
Fumbles-Lost                      2-1               4-0
Penalties-Yards                 7-50            11-95

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING—Tenaha, Jay Lloyd 26-125, Jordan Marshall 5-21, Hayden Jenkins 7-19, Jaqualin Franks 1-3, Jeremy Patton 3-(-3). San Augustine, Kevorian Barnes 19-246, Tijay Thomas 16-169, DelMarquis Barnes 2-3, Team 1-(-16).
PASSING—Tenaha, Jenkins 18-30-2—156, Franks 0-2-0—0. San Augustine, Thomas 0-3-0—0, DelMarquis Barnes 0-1-1—0.
RECEIVING—Tenaha, Franks 6-42, Tray Tutt 4-29, Lloyd 3-24, Erik Smith 2-21, Patton 2-17, Dylan Calloway 1-23.