Hallsville’s Season Ends With 30-23 Area-Round Loss to Lancaster
TYLER – Two points when 53 is scored in a football game often has little significance, but when Hallsville gave up that amount on Saturday it marked the end of the momentum it had in its Class 5A Division II area playoff against Lancaster, and unfortunately for the Bobcats the eventual end of their season.
Giving up one of the longest plays in Texas high school playoff history and the ball four times on fumbles tripped up Hallsville as it dropped a 30-23 decision to Lancaster in windy conditions at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
Tyrell Alexander scored the winning touchdown for the Tigers on a 7-yard pass from Ryan Ross with 8:27 remaining.
The turning point was with 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter after Lance Hardman put Hallsville ahead 23-13 on an 8-yard touchdown run. Kenan Ivy blocked the ensuing extra-point kick by Alan Acuna, and Dajuan Adkinson returned the loose ball 107 yards for two points.
Lancaster appeared to be rejuvenated after the play, marching 75 yards on the ensuing drive. With the wind behind them, the Tigers got a 49-yard pass from Ross to Alexander to set up a 30-yard touchdown run by Spencer Gilbert II with 10:12 remaining followed by a 2-point conversion pass from Ross to Omar Manning to tie the game at 23-23.
On the next kickoff Hallsville's Josh Taylor slipped and fell at the Bobcats' 2-yard line. Two plays later Ragland fumbled and Lancaster's Taiyoun Nichols recovered at the Hallsville 4-yard line to set up Alexander's winning score. While Hallsville had four turnovers, Lancaster had none despite fumbling the ball three times.
“That 2-point return flipped the momentum for us. That was a big play,” Hallsville coach David Plunk said. “You can't let a really good team like Lancaster off the ground.”
Lancaster coach Chris Gilbert credited Adkinson's big play for saving the game for his squad.
“Nothing was going good for us when that happened,” Chris Gilbert said. “That return was really needed because we were going through a lot of bad fortune.”
Hallsville (7-5) was denied its first trip to the regional semifinal round of the playoffs since 1999. Lancaster (9-3) advanced to play Terrell or Lucas Lovejoy in a Region II semifinal next week with the time, date and site to be determined. Terrell played Lovejoy in an area playoff late Saturday.
Hallsville's best chance to tie or go ahead in the final eight minutes of the game ended with 7:16 remaining. After catching a shovel pass from Roger McCuller, Hallsville receiver Andrew Southard had the ball stripped from him by Lancaster linebacker Trevon Brooks, and Nichols made his second fumble recovery of the game. Hallsville's last drive ended at the Lancaster 33-yard line with 1:34 remaining when Adkinson broke up a fourth-and-8 pass attempt from McCuller to Coleton Lasseter.
Tysean Boykins had a forced fumble and recovery for Lancaster, while Ahndre Hughes also had a fumble recovery for the Tigers. Lancaster scored 13 points off Hallsville fumbles inside its own 10-yard line.
“Our defense has been swarming all year. That's really the most consistent part of our team,” Coach Gilbert said. “It kept us in the game. In a wind game it's all about running the ball and defense.”
Whichever team had the strong western wind at its back played well. Hallsville outscored Lancaster 23-2 with this advantage, while Lancaster had a 28-0 margin with the breeze.
In the first quarter it was Lancaster as it got an 83-yard touchdown run from Spencer Gilbert on its second play from scrimmage. Spencer Gilbert led all players with 140 yards rushing on 10 carries.
On the next play from scrimmage, Hughes forced Hardman to fumble the ball and recovered the loose ball at the Hallsville 9-yard line. This set up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Ross to Cartrell Thomas on a fourth-and-goal play to give the Tigers a 13-0 lead with 6:19 remaining in the first quarter, as Hallsville's Josh Hall blocked the extra-point kick.
The momentum of the game started to change in Hallsville's favor when Lasseter was stopped from a 1-yard loss by Hallsville safety Ty Meissner on a fourth-and-1 play at the Lancaster 45-yard line with 8:38 remining in the second quarter. This set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Hardman.
Hallsville also had a short field on its next possession, getting the ball at the Lancaster 47-yard line after an 18-yard punt by Spencer Gilbert into the wind. This set up a 30-yard field goal by Acuna with 1:19 remaining.
A big special teams play gave Hallsville its first lead. On the final play of the first half, Hallsville's Wynne Jarrett blocked a punt and Hardman returned the loose ball 14 yards for a touchdown to give the Bobcats a 17-13 lead.
Hallsville had a modest 289-252 edge in total yards, but the Bobcats had a 16-8 advantage in first downs. The Bobcats had success running between the tackles with Hardman gaining 69 yards on 18 carries. McCuller had 187 total yards, including 133 passing.
“They're fast on defense,” Plunk said. “We had to run the ball at them to have a chance, and it pretty much worked.”
Brooks led all players with nine tackles, including a sack, while Hughes had two tackles for losses. Jarrett led a balanced Hallsville defense with six tackles. Jarrett, Braylon Smith and Zach Hunter had two tackles for losses apiece for the Bobcats.
Saturday's end result finished a roller-coaster three weeks for Hallsville that included a 63-20 loss to rival Longview followed a stunning 24-23 upset of defending Class 5A Division II state champion Ennis last week.
“It's a great group of kids, and you have to look at what they've gone through,” said Plunk with tears in his eyes. “Not many teams have to play Longview, Ennis and Lancaster three weeks in a row. It's a tough road.”