John Tyler Dismantles Rockwall-Heath + Sets Up Big Game Next Week At Longview
TYLER -- John Tyler officially jumped back into the District 11-6A championship race Friday with a 48-0 win against Rockwall-Heath at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
It was as convincing a victory as the score indicates.
The Lions' defense, challenged to stop an unorthodox single wing offense with no quarterback, passed Heath's tests with flying colors. It held the visiting team to 56 yards, four first downs and created four turnovers while its own offensive counterpart went for 466 yards and converted 8 of 11 possessions for points.
John Tyler enjoyed the largest margin of victory of any District 11-6A team this season and propelled itself into what is now a huge game next Friday at Longview. The Lobos are the only undefeated left in the league and a Lions' win there in addition to winning its final two games of the regular season would give it at least a majority share of the district crown.
Things have turned around quite nicely from a deflating district-opening loss three games ago.
"Like I said earlier this season, our district is tough," Lions coach Ricklan Holmes said. "It's going to come down to the last game of the season, that's what I believe. I think it's going to come down to the last game of the season to see who's going to win this title. We're still in the hunt, Longview is in the hunt. I think (Mesquite) Horn may still be in the hunt.
"We've got to play week in and week out. This week, we were worried about Rockwall-Heath. Next week, we're worried about Longview. We'll worry about everybody else as we get through the ones we've got to play next."
It didn't take John Tyler (6-1, 3-1) long to get comfortable against Heath (4-3, 2-2).
Holmes' team won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kick for the first time in his five-year career at the school. He wanted Heath to play from behind the whole way.
Houston quarterback commitment Bryson Smith and Texas receiver pledge Damion Miller made the coach look like a genius just 2:01 into the contest when they connected for a 56-yard touchdown.
Heath got the ball, got jammed on third-and-short its first set of downs and punted.
Tre Allison ran in from two yards a few moments later to cap a 10-play, 79-yard drive and gave the Lions a 14-0 advantage after Devan Salazar's second extra point kick.
For Heath, it was a worst-case scenario start. The program's offense is as one-dimensional as it gets with 10 pass attempts before the game and 11 after the final whistle.
It threw an interception to safety Tyus Grayson on its first and only attempt Friday.
Heath's key to a win is dominating time of possession with a sure-handed rushing attack. A single wing rushing attack with four running backs jammed tight together in the backfield, trying to confuse opponents by moving in different directions and faking handoffs to misdirect the opposing defense.
John Tyler didn't bite. It allowed 29 yards and zero first downs in the first half.
Heath punted three times and a fourth possession ended with Grayson's pick.
Meanwhile, Allison ran in a second touchdown from three yards and Salazar hit field goals of 19 and 20 yards for a commanding 27-0 advantage at the break.
The only gripe anyone could have with the home team's performance was it got stuffed at Heath's 1-yard line on two separate possessions and had to settle for Salazar's successful kicks. But that was after going up 21-0 two minutes into the second quarter.
"The defense practiced so hard," senior linebacker Shaundrick Williams said. "Everybody was just flying around practicing every day of the week for two weeks since we had the off week last week. We came out here, and it was the exact same as practice.
"Everybody asked me,'What are you going to do this week? What's it going to be like this weekend?' I kept saying it was going to be a ball game that came down to who could play football. Man, we were balling."
Smith threw an interception to start the offense's second act at the Heath 8-yard line. He made up for it the next drive on the heels of the first of three Heath fumbles lost with a 9-yard touchdown run.
Heath was out of its element in the second half and five times snapped the ball before its wildcat back was ready. Defensive end Howard Hawkins, defensive end Dekalen Goodson and cornerback Javonta Mosley recovered three of those snaps to set the Lions up well within Heath territory.
Running back Cameron Grant followed Smith with a 6-yard scoring run for a 41-0 lead off the second fumble and Smith punched in the third fumble recovered from one yard.
"It was just another game on the list," Smith said. "We have played some games to beat ourselves and, today, we really showed what we can do when we put together four quarters. All phases of the game we were excellent. We played as a family. This was another stepping stone on our road to state. We've got to keep going hard and get better each game."
While John Tyler celebrated its win, Longview was busy putting the final touches on a 49-35 road victory at North Mesquite to move to a perfect 4-0 within the district.
Longview owns a 6-1 overall record and is on a six-game winning streak after dropping a surprisingly close season-opening game at Lufkin. The Lobos began the year with just four returning starters from last year's Class 5A, Region II championship game team.
Rockwall, the lone team to defeat John Tyler, did the Lions a favor by disposing of Horn in another district game Friday. It moved into a tie with Heath and Horn for third place in the league, John Tyler holds second place on its own and Longview is the current king of the hill.
One way or another, an East Texas team will lead the district at the end of next week. Either a team with an unblemished league record or a one-loss squad that has the head-to-head tiebreaker in a group with no unbeaten teams will be in front of the pack.
"They're tough," Holmes said. "It's going to be a physical game. They're going to try to run the ball just like Rockwall-Heath did. Their offense isn't as complex as Rockwall-Heath's, but their offensive line does a great job blocking and their running backs do a great job hitting the hole. We've got to be physical at the point of contact."
John Tyler 48, Rockwall-Heath 0
CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium, Tyler
Heath 0 0 0 0 -- 0
John Tyler 14 13 14 7 -- 48
JT--Damion Miller 56 pass from Bryson Smith (Devan Salazar kick), 9:59
JT--Tre Allison 2 run (Salazar kick), 4:39
JT--Allsion 3 run (Salazar kick), 9:55
JT--Salazar 19 field goal, 4:26
JT--Salazar 20 field goal, :35
JT--Smith 9 run (Salazar kick), 2:42
JT--Cameron Grant 6 run (Salazar kick), :38
JT--Smith 1 run (Salazar kick), 11:09
First Downs 4 19
Total Yards 56 466
Rushes-Yards 40-56 50-272
Passing Yards 0 151
Comp.-Att.-Int. 0-1-1 9-15-1
Punts-Avg. 4-29.5 1-19
Fumbles-Lost 5-3 2-0
Penalties-Yards 4-30 7-70
RUSHING--Heath, J'Corian Jimmerson 15-42, Grant Buckholt 9-38, Jordan Kempf 3-5, Tanner McCallister 5-2, Jonathan Crist 5-1, TEAM 3-(-32). John Tyler, Bryson Smith 11-135, Cameron Grant 14-101, Kiante Stoker 8-51, Tre Allison 9-33, Michael Givens-Washington 1-16, Hakeem Williams 3-2, KeEric Franklin 1-(-1), Devlen Woods 1-(-3), TEAM 2-(-19).
PASSING--Heath, Buckholt 0-1-1--0. John Tyler, Smith 9-15-1--151.
RECEIVING--John Tyler, Damion Miller 2-57, Givens-Washington 3-42, Woods 2-31, Grant 1-19, Franklin 1-2.