TYLER -- It was an adventure all night for the John Tyler special teams unit, but Lions fans were treated to a happy ending.

Jose Perez's 17-yard field goal with one second remaining sent John Tyler to a thrilling 31-28 win over Lancaster on Saturday night in the finale of the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic at Rose Stadium, helping the Lions avoid consecutive losses to begin the season.

The game-winning kick eased the sting of Perez's miss on the potential go-ahead extra point earlier in the quarter and four errant snaps over the head of JT punter Luis Duran that marred what was an otherwise solid bounce-back performance by John Tyler (1-1).

Lancaster's Aaron Guery wraps up John Tyler's Quaylan Brown during their game Saturday night in Tyler. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

"Our special teams snaps have to get better, but other than that our special teams is good," said John Tyler coach Ricklan Holmes, whose team was also hurt by poor long snaps in last week's loss to Lufkin. "We've got to get more consistent in our snaps."

Lions junior quarterback Geovari McCollister, who finished 25-of-33 for 271 yards and a touchdown, was a perfect 6-of-6 on JT's 79-yard game-winning drive.

JT began the possession with 3:09 remaining, moving into Lancaster (0-2) territory on McCollister's 29-yard completion to junior receiver Nick Cain. Completions of 13 and 9 yards to sophomore Duntavion Gross and McCollister's 7-yard run set the Lions up with a first-and-goal at the 5 with less than 30 seconds remaining. Gipson's 4-yard run up the middle set up Perez for the game-winning kick.

"They're growing up," Holmes said of his team. "I told them after last week against Lufkin that they were rookies. They're no longer rookies. In each game you get a little bit older, a little bit wiser and that's what preseason is about. I want to win them all, we all want to win them all. But we all want to see improvement and that's what we saw today."

John Tyler's Malik Hubbard (left) and Isaac Warren (4) bring down Lancaster's Jamarie Williams during their game Saturday night in Tyler. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

Lancaster scored 21 consecutive points to take a 28-22 lead into the fourth quarter, but McCollister connected with Gipson for a 29-yard touchdown pass, but Perez's PAT bounced off the left upright, leaving the game tied with 4:24 remaining.

Gipson led John Tyler with 159 total yards of offense and scored all three Lions touchdowns. The senior running back rushed 15 times for 88 yards and two touchdowns and caught six passes for 71 yards. His 5-yard touchdown gave JT its first lead at 9-7 in the second quarter, and his 32-yard scoring run extended the Lions' lead to 22-7 less than a minute into the second half.

"We have a lot of potential leaders out here just ready to step up," Gipson said. "Just give them the ball, and let them eat. We've been working on finishing all week in practice. We came out slow, but we just had to finish in order to win this game."

A week after being sacked 16 times by Lufkin's defense, McCollister was only brought down behind the line twice Saturday.

John Tyler quarterback Geovari McCollister prepares for impact against Lancaster during their game Saturday night in Tyler. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

"A lot of the time last week (McCollister) got impatient, and even in the early part of this game he was little bit impatient," Holmes said. "We calmed him down and let him know 'hey, the blocks are there. You go through your reads, trust your linemen doing their job.' That's when we start moving the ball the way we need to move the ball."

It was a rough start to the night for John Tyler, which fell behind 7-0 after Lancaster marched 85 yards on the game's opening drive and scored on a 1-yard run by Shannon Simpson.

The ensuing JT drive ended when a snap went over the head of Duran on fourth down, giving Lancaster first-and-goal at the 10. The Lions defense forced a turnover on downs, but once again a bad snap forced Duran to scramble out of the end zone to avoid a safety, giving Lancaster another first-and-goal at the 6. JT dodged another bullet when sophomore defensive tackle Braylon Jones recovered an errant snap over the head of Lancaster quarterback Chris Thomas at the 23.

Lancaster's Chris Thomas fires off a pass against John Tyler during their game Saturday night in Tyler. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

The Lions turned Lancaster's misfortune into three points when Perez knocked home a 33-yard field goal -- his first of four on the night -- with 9:26 remaining in the second quarter. Following a Lancaster three-and-out, Gipson's first touchdown gave the Lions their first lead and two more Perez field goals gave JT a 15-7 halftime lead.

Gipson's second scoring run widened the Lions' lead to two touchdowns, but Lancaster came roaring back with touchdowns on its next three possessions. Thomas hit Marik Mims for an 11-yard score to cut JT's lead to 22-14. The Tigers then took advantage of another poor snap over the head of Duran that gave Lancaster first-and-goal from 5. Simpson's 2-yard touchdown and ensuing two-point conversion evened the game with 5:22 remaining in the third.

Lancaster traveled 97 yards on its next drive, which was highlighted by completions of 36 and 20 yards and two 15-yard penalties on the Lions. Jamarie Williams scored from 10 yards out, but a missed PAT left Lancaster's lead at 28-22 with 1:17 remaining in the third quarter.

The next two possessions for each team stalled, leaving the door open for JT's game-tying drive.

"We've got to start fast all the time," Holmes said. "This week we didn't start as fast as we did against Lufkin, but I think that's because we were so worried about doing all the little things right and I think that slowed them down."

John Tyler resumes its season Friday against crosstown rival Tyler Lee in the 58th installment of the Rose City Rivalry.


John Tyler 31, Lancaster 28

Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic
Rose Stadium, Tyler

Lancaster             7    0   21    0   --   28
John Tyler            0   15    7    9   --   31
First Quarter
LAN--Shannon Simpson 1 run (Miquel Rivas kick), 8:30.
Second Quarter
JT--FG Jose Perez 33, 9:26.
JT--Reggie Gipson 5 run (kick failed), 7:10.
JT--FG Perez 22, 4:02.
JT--FG Perez 41, :00.
Third Quarter
JT--Gipson 32 run (Perez kick), 11:11.
LAN--Marik Mims 11 pass from Chris Thomas (Rivas kick), 7:43.
LAN--Simpson 2 run (Simpson run), 5:22.
LAN--Jamarie Williams 10 run (kick failed), 1:17.
Fourth Quarter
JT--Gipson 29 pass from Geovari McCollister (kick failed), 4:24.
JT--FG Perez 17, :01.

                                        LAN                 JT
First Downs                          18                 25
Total Yards                         271               365
Rushes Yards                 41-160            36-94
Passing Yards                     111               271
Comp.-Att.-Int.                9-21-0        25-33-0
Punts-Avg.                      4-32.0           3-42.7
Fumbles-Lost                       3-2               1-0
Penalties-Yards                   5-35           11-83

RUSHING--Lancaster, Jamarie Williams 12-57, Shannon Simpson 10-42, Chris Thomas 9-31, Xavier Caffee 1-22, Halston Lilly 1-15, Deshon Jackson 1-0, Tim Taylor 2-0, Rashaun O'Neal 2-(-1), Marquel Johnson 3-(-6). John Tyler, Reggie Gipson 15-88, Geovari McCollister 14-51, Quaylan Brown 3-15, Jeremy Wilson 1-1, Luis Duran 1-(-6), Team 2-(-55).
PASSING--Lancaster, Thomas 7-16-0--106, Johnson 2-5-0--5. John Tyler, McCollister 25-33-0--271.
RECEIVING--Lancaster, Taylor 4-73, Caffee 3-32, Mims 1-11, Nick Alexander 1-(-5). John Tyler, Duntavion Gross 8-74, Nick Cain 7-85, Gipson 6-71, Rodney Bendy 2-34, Wilson 2-7.

John Tyler's Greg Johnson delivers a hit to Lancaster's Tim Taylor during their game Saturday night in Tyler. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)