TYLER — Playing up a classification, the 5A Lions of Ennis lost a second-straight heartbreaker Friday night. The 6A Lions of Tyler defeated their visitors 27-23.
The pleasant Friday evening at Rose Stadium began with both teams enjoying long, productive downfield drive only to be hampered by penalties.
Both sets of Lions methodically ate-up the clock for the first 12 minutes and ended the first quarter tied 7-7. Ennis running back Tycen Thompson romped into the end zone for a three-yard score and the initial score of the game.
Thompson finished the ballgame with 193 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns.
The extra point try by kicker Trevor Oakley was good. John Tyler knotted the game with a 20-yard pass from quarterback Devien Woods to Roderick Hawkins.
Ennis hit pay dirt again on its first set of downs to start the second quarter when Thompson cashed-in with a one-yard run with 8:51 left in the first half.
Midway through the second stanza, Ennis quarterback Kade Graff lofted the ball to wide receiver Chris McDonald and then used a cool “hook and ladder” to find the hands of Thompson. Unfortunately, the play only netted four yards.
Later in the second quarter, the Ennis defense made a huge stand, pushing John Tyler back to its own 10-yard line to make it third and 20. The ensuing screen pass netted Tyler 10 yards but forced the Lions to punt.
Ennis started out at its own 35, but their march down the field stalled on John Tyler 20-yd line, which resulted in a 37-yard Oakley field goal that snuck inside the right upright for a 17-7 Ennis lead with 1:58 left in the first half.
After taking over on their own 42-yard line following the ensuing kickoff, the East Texas Lions needed only 16 seconds to find the end zone after two very nice catches thrown by Woods. The first grab was by Ke’Andre Street for a 42-yard gain and the second completion went to Jaizon Williams on a fade down the left sideline. The touchdown pulled John Tyler within three, 17-14.
Ennis nearly added another touchdown before the half, only to have a Thompson score negated by a down-field chop block.
Ennis forced a three-and-out on the first John Tyler possession of the second half, only to have a Zion Dove fumble put the ball back into the hands of the opposition at the Ennis 45-yard line.
A big defensive stop was made by Ennis middle linebacker Dane Vernor when he drove the ball carrier back five yards. From there, John Tyler's quarterback (Woods) launched the ball down the field. Though it looked to be a sure interception by a Lion defender, the pass was instead tipped high and right into the waiting hands of John Tyler’s Street.
He ran it in for a TD, taking the first lead for John Tyler. The two-point conversion failed, but John Tyler held a three-point lead, 20-17.
The East Texas Lions took their three-point lead into the fourth quarter.
With 9:26 left in the game, the Ennis defense again stepped up big to force a John Tyler punt. However, the offense stalled soon after to put the ball back in the hands of the John Tyler offense with 6:03 left in the contest.
After a 20-yard return to the Ennis 41-yard line, the John Tyler running backs started spreading-out the plays to the sidelines, which added-up to steady yardage down the field. They didn’t score again, but they effectively chewed-up the game clock, running the clock down to 4:42 left to play.
With their backs against the wall and back in possession, Ennis steadily moved the football down the field. Soon after, Dylan Santos scored the final Ennis touchdown, but the extra point was no good, which left only left 20 seconds to play.
It was too little, too late for Ennis.
John Tyler improved to 2-0 on the season while Ennis fell to 0-2 with the Battle of 287 against (1-1) Waxahachie on the horizon. Next Friday night will make the 100th meeting between the long-time rivals.