John Tyler Survives Four-OT Marathon at State 7-on-7 Tournament, But Falls Short in Semifinals
COLLEGE STATION -- At the end of a scorching Saturday afternoon on the blazing artificial turf, the John Tyler 7-on-7 team walked away short of reaching the championship game.
It was more about the journey.
Following a perfect run through pool play Friday, John Tyler reeled off three consecutive wins in the single-elimination championship bracket -- a couple of the epic variety.
The day ended with a 39-20 loss to Dickinson, but not before JT survived a back-and-forth thriller with Cy-Fair, 40-39, in the Round of 16, and a four-overtime marathon against Abilene -- a 60-54 Lions' triumph.
Despite players cramping on a consistent basis as the result of triple-digit temperatures, which at one point caused the John Tyler defense to play with only six defenders for a series, the Lions hung with Dickinson for a half.
"We gave it our all (the game before), and it kinda drained us," said John Tyler senior quarterback Bryson Smith, who has committed to Houston. "We didn't have a long break and our bodies just wore out."
Dickinson, which led by just four points at the break, outscored John Tyler 21-6 after halftime.
The Woodlands later defeated Dickinson for the state title, 32-26.
WAR OF ATTRITION
John Tyler exhausted all physical efforts, outlasting Abilene in four overtime periods -- finally securing victory when a fourth-down pass fell incomplete in the end zone.
Lions senior Bryson Smith played quarterback for the most of the day but made his biggest contribution as a receiver at the end of regulation.
Jaivon Williams threw consecutive completions to Smith, the second of which reached the end zone. And on the extra-point attempt, John Tyler tied the game at 35-35 with a third-straight Williams-to-Smith connection.
"We just try to stick to our motto, which is 'Never quit, never die,'" Smith said.
Neither offense gained traction again before the 40-minute clock expired.
Abilene took possession first in OT, and grabbed a 42-35 lead on fourth down. The Lions countered with a third-down scoring strike from Smith to talented sophomore wideout Ke'Andre Street, knotting the game at 42-42.
Smith hit Street again to give JT the advantage in the second OT period. But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the Lions' mandatory two-point conversion back to the 30-yard line, and the Lions had to settle for six.
Abilene quickly found the end zone once again, but the Eagles' two-point try was nullified by a four-second penalty, leaving the score at 48-48.
Each team traded touchdowns in the third overtime, but each failed to add the two-point conversion, sending the game to its climactic fourth OT session.
John Tyler struck first with a short scoring toss from Smith, but once again failed to pick up the two-point conversion.
But Abilene fired off four consecutive incompletions, bringing the quarterfinal to its conclusion -- almost 30 minutes later than it would have finished in regulation.
BACK AND FORTH THEY WENT
John Tyler definitely earned its spot in the semifinals, surviving an intense slugfest with Cy-Fair in the Round of 16.
The game featured eight lead changes, and wasn't decided until Clark Edwards intercepted a Cy-Fair pass in the end zone as the final buzzer sounded.
The JT offense was left to Smith and senior receiver Damion Miller, who has already committed to Texas. The duo combined on three touchdowns, including two in the second half -- the last of which tied the game at 33-33.
Lions cornerback Kieran Freeman followed with an interception, which led to the eventual game-winning score -- a touchdown pass to Michael Givens-Washington.
Cy-Fair cut the deficit to 40-39 on the ensuing possession, but John Tyler all but consumed the remainder of the time in regulation on its next drive.
John Tyler began the morning with a 32-20 win over Hutto, a game that included four Lions interceptions -- three in the second half -- by cornerback and UTSA commit Javontavius Mosley, Kiante Stoker, and Smith -- who also played safety at times on defense.
"It's just not one person contributing (on defense)," Smith said. "We communicated good, and they fought our butts off."
Now that the 7-on-7 campaign is finished, the sights will now shift to the 2016 fall season.
"We've been through a lot with everybody coming together (this summer), but it ain't over yet," Smith said. "We've still got a lot to prove to everybody. They're still sleeping on us. They'll wake up."