TYLER -- Tyler Bishop Gorman’s chance to claim the third playoff seed in TAPPS Division II District 2 was denied by Tyler Grace on Friday night, as the Cougars came away with a 45-39 win in Gorman’s final regular season game.

With perfect weather on senior night at McCallum Stadium, the two teams engaged in a hotly contested battle that featured multiple big plays and lead changes.

The Cougars (4-5, 2-2) will have their opportunity to clinch the third playoff seed with a win over Bullard Brook Hill next Friday night. A Grace win would also give Gorman (6-3, 2-3) the fourth seed. A Brook Hill win would put the three schools in a three-way tie for third, and would invoke the district’s tiebreaker procedure to determine which two of the three teams make the playoffs.

The first half of Friday’s game was a slugfest between two high-octane offenses. Crusaders quarterback Jake Smith, who came into the game with 28 touchdown passes and just short of 2,500 yards passing, didn’t disappoint the home crowd. He threw four first-half touchdowns: 77- and 73-yard bombs to Dozie Ifeadi, a 59-yard strike to Isaiah Haggerty, and a clutch 22-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Hobbs on the last play of the half.

Cougars quarterback Braydon Stone generated some first-half offense of his own, starting with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Cole Reed and then scoring touchdown runs of 53, 39, and 1 yard. Jacob Williams was perfect on four PATs to give the Cougars a three-point lead at the half, 28-25.

The story of the second half was the Cougars rushing attack and the ability of the Grace offense to control the clock. Jacob Williams hit a 42-yard field goal to extend the Cougars' lead to 31-25, but the Crusaders responded with another Smith-to-Hobbs touchdown pass, this one from 20 yards out.

Then, the Cougars ground game took over.

Fueled by the blocking of senior linemen Jacob Williams, Hutson Yeatts, Collin Braughton, Garrison Starr and Nathan Finley, Stone rushed for 200 yards and Uduma 147. Uduma scored on second-half runs of 36 and 5 yards,

The second Uduma touchdown gave the Cougars their biggest lead of the game at 45-32 with 4:02 left. The Crusaders cut that lead to six on a 95-yard catch and run from Smith to Daniel Schmitt with 3:30 remaining.

But, the Cougars ground game was able to run the clock out and preserve the Grace victory.


More From East Texas Sports Network