John Tyler Captures District Championship With 28-16 Victory Over Nacogdoches
NACOGDOCHES -- Behind a pinpoint passing offense, John Tyler scored 21 points in the first quarter, added another touchdown in the second quarter and held on to win 28-16 over Nacogdoches on Friday at Dragon Stadium.
With the loss, the Dragons (4-6, 3-4) failed to qualify for the playoffs, while John Tyler (7-3, 7-0) captured sole possession of the District 16-5A title.
JT will face Texas High at 2 p.m. Saturday at Longview's Lobo Stadium in the bi-district round of the 5A Division I playoffs.
While the first half belonged squarely to John Tyler, the Dragons outscored the Lions 16-0 in the second half.
Junior running back Phillip Jones led the Dragons with 30 carries for 89 yards and both of the team’s touchdowns.
While Noah Hildebrand had trouble hitting targets through the air until late in the game, he chipped in with 73 yards on the ground on 16 carries.
The Dragons defense also came up with a safety late in the game.
Bryson Smith led the Lions with a 16-of-23 night for 294 yards and two touchdowns while adding another score and 65 yards on the ground on 11 carries.
Smith began the game quickly for the Lions, hitting defensive tackle-turned-fullback Pierre Leonard on a four-yard touchdown pass with 10:28 left in the first quarter to take a 7-0 edge.
Smith added to that lead with a nine-yard dash for a score with 6:59 left in the first quarter and hit Damion Miller for a 58-yard touchdown with 3:58 left in the first quarter to give John Tyler a 21-0 lead early.
While much of the second quarter was a defensive struggle, John Tyler running back James Allen broke things open again with a three-yard rushing touchdown 30 seconds before halftime to build a 28-0 edge for the Lions.
Coming out of halftime, neither team seemed capable of building much momentum to start.
John Tyler attempted two field goals in the third quarter and came up empty on both of them.
Finally, with 11:54 to play, Phillip Jones scored from 11 yards out to cut John Tyler’s lead to 28-7.
Nacogdoches came up with the ball again on offense and drove it to the Lions’ one-yard line before John Tyler’s defense stuffed Hildebrand on a fourth-down attempt, taking over with 2:39 left in the game.
But the Dragons weren’t ready to yield just yet as they forced a safety with 1:54 to play to cut John Tyler’s lead to 28-9.
On the following offensive possession, Jaylon Maxie came up with a quick 31-yard reception to put the Dragons on the John Tyler four yard line.
Jones eventually pushed in another score from a yard out to cut John Tyler’s lead to 28-16 with 0:54 left.
The ensuing Dragon onside kick sailed out of bounds, and John Tyler was able to recover and run out the clock for the win.