New Diana Escapes Jacksboro in Final Minute, 49-48
FRISCO – Jackson Sampson knew who he was throwing to.
The game was in the hands of New Diana's senior quarterback. He had delivered all game, including a fourth down conversion on this very drive. Now, with 17 seconds remaining, none of that seemed to matter. If he didn't throw a touchdown, the game would be over.
So he looked for the guy who had been there all game.
TJ Rogers was the go-to receiver for the Eagles on Thursday against Jacksboro. He had been so all season, too. He already had two touchdowns and Sampson was going to try to give him one more.
Roger ran a fade route to get open in the end zone and Sampson let it fly. Rogers didn't let his quarterback down. He caught the ball and the New Diana sideline erupted.
The game wasn't over, though. 12 seconds remained and the touchdown only tied it. Kick Andy Prazak lined up for what was possibly the biggest extra point of his life.
He seemed unfazed as he knocked down the field goal to give the Eagles a 49-48 victory to claim their first regional semifinal victory in school history. They advance to the regional final game, where they will face the winner of Holliday and Gunter.
Rogers finished the game with 131 yards and three touchdowns on seven receptions.
"I have all the trust in the world in my lineman, my coaches and my receivers," Sampson said. "I had no doubt in my mind we were coming back to win that game."
The game was winnable after Jacksboro scored a touchdown to go up 48-42 with 1:57 left, but missed the extra point. That was plenty of time for New Diana's offense, which has been potent all season.
The touchdown was Sampson's 61st this season. He finished the game with 453 passing yards and six touchdowns.
New Diana needed other players to step up after Jacob Choyce was ejected following his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the third quarter. He left the game with 94 total yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Choyce's ejection opened the door for Jacksboro to get back in the game. The Tigers first scored a touchdown to tie the game at 35 before Caleb Keith's 54-yard scamper gave them their first lead of the game with three minutes left in the third.
New Diana bounced back with a 57-yard pass to a wide open Cody Payton. He went untouched to tie the game for the fourth time in this back-and-forth contest.
Coach Robbie Coplin said though the game might have been fun to watch for fans, it was a different story on the sideline.
"I liked it better when we were up 28-14 and had all the momentum," he said. "I know it's fun to watch games like that as a fan and I love watching those games on TV. Our kids just competed and kept grinding and finding ways to make plays and win."
The first half was an offensive showcase, as expected. New Diana struck first, setting the tone for a high-scoring game. Following a 45-yard strike from Sampson to Zane Freeman, Choyce finished the drive off with an 8-yard touchdown run.
Choyce was a star in the first half. He also caught a screen pass and juked a couple of Jacksboro defender for a touchdown to end the first quarter.
With just under eight minutes to play in the first half, the Tigers weredown 28-14. That wouldn’t hold up.
After two consecutive false start penalties, Jackboro faced third-and-11. Payton Laake’s first pass of the game was tipped, but still fell right into the hands of Ty Kennedy for the touchdown. The extra point was no good, however.
Later in the half, Laake’s second pass to Kennedy was also tipped, but took another fortuitous turn into the receiver’s hands. That set up a 1-yard TD run from Hunter Hackley to eventually tie the game at 28.
That would be the score heading into halftime.
If New Diana's season were to end next week, it would still be the most successful in school history. It has been quite the turnaround for a group of seniors who endured an 0-10 season in 2015.
Coplin and Sampson both said the season has been unlike anything they've experience in football. With more left to play, the story is still being written for the Eagles.
"It's been a blast," Sampson said. "Especially with this group of seniors after going 0-10. We're putting Diana on the map."
New Diana 49, Jacksboro 48
At The Star, Frisco
New Diana 21 7 7 14 -- 49
Jacksboro 14 14 14 6 -- 48
ND—Jacob Choyce 8 run (Andy Prazak kick), 10:01.
JAC—Hunter Jackson 3 run (Fernando Piedra kick), 4:51.
ND—Cole Willeford 14 catch from Jackson Sampson (Prazak kick), 2:03.
JAC—Caleb Keith 35 run (Piedra kick), 0:43.
ND—Choyce 57 catch from Sampson) (Prazak kick), 0:32.
ND—TJ Rogers 16 catch from Sampson (Prazak kick), 7:57.
JAC—Ty Kennedy 15 catch from Payton Laake (XP no good), 3:10.
JAC—Hunter Hackley 1 run (Hunter Jackson 2-point conversion), 0:56.
ND--TJ Rogers 36 catch from Sampson (Prazak kick), 9:14.
JAC--Kennedy 5 run (Piedra kick), 5:39.
JAC--Keith 54 run (Piedra kick), 3:06.
ND--57 catch Cody Payton from Sampson (Prazak kick), 7:34.
JAC--Keith 1 run (PAT no good), 1:57.
ND--Rogers 10 catch from Sampson (Prazak kick), 0:12.
First Downs 21 13
Total Yards 522 397
Rushes-Yards 26-69 48-342
Passing Yards 453 55
Comp.-Att.-Int. 28-41-0 2-5-1
Punts-Avg. 1-31.0 2-45.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 11-87 6-60
RUSHING--New Diana, Jackson Sampson 11-14, Zane Freeman 7-36, Cole Wileford 2-12, Jacob Choyce 2-13, Aron Jahr 2-5, Team 2-(-11). Jacksboro, Hunter Hackley 16-53, Hunter Jackson 15-97, Caleb Keith 6-104, Payton Lake 5-49, Ty Kennedy 3-28, Ethan Fudge 2-7, Gio Salazar 1-4.
PASSING--New Diana, Sampson 28-41-0--453. Jacksboro, Laake 2-5-1--55.
RECEIVING--New Diana, TJ Rogers 7-131, Cody Payton 5-92, Zane Freeman 4-66, Dennis Drennon 4-31, Jacob Choyce 3-81, Cole Willeford 3-25, Aron Jahr 2-27. Jacksboro, Ty Kennedy 2-55.