John Tyler Foils Two-Point Attempt + Survives Lufkin, 50-49
TYLER -- One glance at the final stats, and it was apparent not much defense was played in Friday night's Class 6A Division II bi-district playoff between Lufkin and John Tyler.
But the biggest play of the night came on that side of the ball, and it saved John Tyler's season. And ended Lufkin's.
Lions senior cornerback Javontavius Mosley intercepted Lufkin quarterback Kordell Rodgers on the Panthers' potential go-ahead, two-point conversion with 1:21 remaining, helping John Tyler escape with a thrilling 50-49 victory at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
“I just saw the ball in the air, and I made a play," said Mosley, who is committed to UTSA. "It felt good helping the team out once again.”
John Tyler (10-1) will face Dallas Jesuit (8-3) in the area round of the playoffs at 2 p.m. next Saturday from Mesquite Memorial Stadium.
“I’ve got another week of practice with my boys, that’s a great feeling," said John Tyler coach Ricklan Holmes. "These young men are doing an incredible job. Right now, we’re 10-1 and 1-0 in the playoffs, but we’ve got to keep rolling. And I know that this team can do it.”
Lufkin drove 65 yards in a little more than three minutes, and scored on Rodgers' 13-yard touchdown run to get within a point. The Panthers lined up to go for two, causing John Tyler to burn a timeout.
When play resumed, Rodgers rolled to his right and lofted a pass in the back of the end zone for Dhailon Phillips, but Mosley leapt in the air and pulled down the interception.
“They sent one of their wide receivers in motion a couple of times and they had scored off of it, so it I had it in my mind that they were coming to my side again," Mosley said.
John Tyler recovered the ensuing onside kick, and on fourth-and-1 from the Lufkin 40 with one minute remaining, Smith found the left corner for 3 yards and the game-sealing first down.
It was a fitting end: the ball in the hands of Smith, who set a new career-high for total offense in the win.
The Houston commit competed 25 of 33 passes for 429 yards and three touchdowns, and ran 21 times for 190 yards and three more scores. Smith's 619 yards eclipsed his previous high of 614 set in a 59-58 loss to Rockwall on Sept. 16.
“I did what I had to do, but without my teammates none of that would be possible," Smith said. "It’s all a credit to them. I’m going to make my plays, but they help me out. Without them, I ain’t nothing.”
John Tyler receiver and Texas pledge Damion Miller was Smith's favorite target, hauling in eight catches for 159 yards, including a beautiful 86-yard touchdown catch-and-run for the Lions' first score of the night.
Devlen Woods had five receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown, and Michael Givens-Washington finished with 66 yards receiving on five catches, including a touchdown.
“This game right here was gut-wrenching," Smith said. "We had to fight four quarters, and we had to leave it all out on the field. Both teams gave it their all, it was a game to remember.”
Rodgers capped his high school career with a memorable performance of his own. The Texas State commit passed for 223 yards and two scores, and added 72 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
Lufkin junior Malik Jackson finished with eight catches for 108 yards and a touchdown, and returned a kickoff 100 yards to the end zone right before the half. Panthers senior running back Kahlil Brown ran 31 times for 156 yards and a touchdown.
Neither team held a lead of more than one possession until a Lufkin turnover late in the third quarter helped swing the momentum John Tyler's way.
Lions junior linebacker Tre Allison intercepted Rodgers and returned it 23 yards to the Lufkin 17, which set up Smith's 11-yard touchdown run two plays later that gave John Tyler a 43-28 lead.
Lufkin answered with a 75-yard scoring drive capped by a Rodgers' 1-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 43-35 with 8:42 remaining in the game.
Zamarion Johnson then intercepted Smith and set Lufkin up at the John Tyler 19. Rodgers' 2-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion pass to Javante Ellington tied the game at 43-43 with 6:22 to play.
“We fought four quarters and we never gave up," Smith said. "Adversity hit and we responded.”
John Tyler re-gained the lead, 50-43, less than two minutes later when Smith's 37-yard touchdown pass to Givens-Washington capped a 91-yard drive with 4:32 remaining.
Despite allowing a season-high 49 points and 472 yards of offense, John Tyler's defense managed to keep Lufkin's big-play capabilities in check. The Panthers ran 90 plays from scrimmage for an average of 5.2 yards per snap.
John Tyler, on the other hand, averaged 9.5 yards on its 71 offensive plays.
"We tell them all the time that defense wins championships," Holmes said. "We’re going to need our defense to step up and stop folks because we know how our offense can put up points.”
The Lions trailed 14-6 at the end of the first quarter thanks to pair of Rodgers touchdown passes, but surged ahead with 16 consecutive points on Devan Salazar's 27-yard field goal and Smith touchdown runs of 5 and 13 yards.
Jackson's 100-yard kickoff return cut the John Tyler lead to 22-21 at halftime.
Victor Campbell's 2-yard touchdown run and Smith's 28-yard scoring strike to Woods sandwiched Brown's 1-yard score in the third quarter, before the Allison interception.
“There’s a lot of stuff that we can correct from this game, but knowing that it’s the playoffs, you’ve got to move forward," Holmes said. "You have to make sure you focus on what you have to do to get ready for the next team.”
John Tyler 50, Lufkin 49
Class 6A Division II
Region II Bi-District Playoff
At CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium, Tyler
Lufkin 14 7 7 21 -- 49
John Tyler 6 16 21 7 -- 50
LUF--Malik Jackson 17 pass from Kordell Rodgers (Rodrigo Molina kick), 7:34.
JT--Damion Miller 86 pass from Bryson Smith (pass failed), 6:50.
LUF--Jamel Richemond 4 pass from Rodgers (Molina kick), 1:40.
JT--FG Devan Salazar 27, 10:52.
JT--Smith 5 run (run failed), 6:33.
JT--Smith 13 run (Salazar kick), :55.
LUF--Jackson 100 kickoff return (Molina kick), :39.
JT--Victor Campbell 2 run (Salazar kick), 5:36.
LUF--Kahlil Brown 1 run (Molina kick), 3:02.
JT--Devlen Woods 28 pass from Smith (Salazar kick), 1:46.
JT--Smith 11 run (Salazar kick), 1:19.
LUF--Rodgers 1 run (Molina kick), 8:42.
LUF--Rodgers 2 run (Javante Ellington pass from Rodgers), 6:22.
JT--Michael Givens-Washington 37 pass from Smith (Salazar kick), 4:32.
LUF--Rodgers 13 run (pass failed), 1:21.
First Downs 28 26
Total Yards 472 674
Rushes-Yards 53-249 38-245
Passing Yards 223 429
Comp.-Att.-Int. 21-37-1 25-33-1
Punts-Avg. 5-35.6 2-40.5
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 5-45 7-49
RUSHING--Lufkin, Kahlil Brown 31-156, Kordell Rodgers 15-72, Isaiah Phillips 6-15, Tre' Grant 1-6. John Tyler, Bryson Smith 21-190, Victor Campbell 8-33, Cameron Grant 8-21, Devlen Woods 1-1.
PASSING--Lufkin, Rodgers 21-37-1--223. John Tyler, Smith 25-33-1--429.
RECEIVING--Lufkin, Malik Jackson 8-108, Dhailon Phillips 4-49, Javante Ellington 4-38, Breylon Garcia 3-19, Brown 1-5, Jamel Richemond 1-4. John Tyler, Damion Miller 8-159, Michael Givens-Washington 6-66, Woods 5-89, Ke'Andre Street 5-56, Grant 1-9.