ENNIS — The Ennis Lions took their home field Friday night with the entire football team carrying full-size American flags in honor of Veteran’s Day.
They left with a rivalry win over neighboring Corsicana.
For the final district game of the season, both the Lions and the Tigers had started the evening with identical stats, 6-3 overall and perfect 4-0 district records. On paper, this contest looked to be an evenly-matched battle to decide the 2017 champion of their 5A district, but such was not the case.
Corsicana took the opening kickoff and marched down the field on their first possession of the game, until the penalty bug began to bite them. The Tigers were finally forced to punt to Ennis on a 4th-and-16 situation.
Ennis then took over at its own 25-yard line. After very little progress on their first offensive attempt, the Lions were three and out, and had to punt (for the first and only time in the game).
In the Tigers’ next drive, the penalty flags started flying again — three were illegal procedure calls. Corsicana had made it all the way to the Lions’ 35-yard line, but their attempt on a 4th-and-7 resulted in the ball going over to Ennis.
After a slow start, the Lions got their offense going by driving six plays to the end zone on a 14-yard dash by running back Tycen Thompson, the program's new all-time rushing leader.
Thompson set the new school record in last week’s contest against Nacogdoches and entered the game with 3,340 total rushing yards.
The touchdown put the Lions in front 7-0 after kicker Trevor Oakley made the point-after attempt.
That was the way the score stayed until midway in the 2nd quarter.
The Lions scored again, as Graff crashed into the end zone on a 2-yard surge, by way of a quarterback keeper. The PAT by Oakley was successful again, making the score 14-0.
Next, the Corsicana Tigers tried in earnest to get on the scoreboard themselves.
Hoffman led his team to their first touchdown on a 70-yard drive some eight plays later with his own 1-yard romp into the end zone.
The score changed to 14-7, Ennis still holding onto the lead with 5:05 left until halftime.
On the next set of downs for the Lions, they moved the ball well, until a 4th-and-7 at the Corsicana 38-yard line stopped the charge.
Corsicana took over on downs, but their 2nd play from scrimmage — a pass by Hoffman — was intercepted by Lion defensive back Kevion Gabriel.
Ennis made short order of the Tigers’ mistake.
With only 1:08 left in the 2nd quarter, Ennis quickly scored again by way of the foot of Oakley. His 38-yard field goal was good, and it ended the first half of the contest.
Both teams took to the locker room with the score showing 17-7 in favor of the Lions.
Ennis’ Thompson received the 2nd half kickoff, and the Lions began another touchdown drive from their own 24-yard line. This 9-play quest ended on a 3-yard nifty run by Thompson. He first ran to his right but found nothing but Tigers awaiting him. However, with great second effort, he reversed the field and then ran wide left to reach the goal line for his second touchdown of the game.
Earlier in this drive, Thompson was involved in a fake punt that had garnered 19 yards for the Lions.
The score became 24-7, after another good PAT by Oakley.
The Tigers, desperate to get something going, made a valiant effort down to the opponent’s 12-yard line, but Ennis then recovered a fumble.
As the fourth quarter began, Graff launched a 36-yard strike to tight end Jarius Jones. The Lions stretched their lead to 32-7, after a successful two-point conversion by running back James Harris.
Corsicana finally drove the field again for a touchdown. This 75-yard score culminated by way of a 2-yard scamper by Hoffman. The PAT brought the score to 32-14 in favor of the Lions.
That would be the last of the scoring of the evening for the Tigers with only 8:23 left in the 4th quarter.
Corsicana then tried an onside kick, but it was unsuccessful. Ennis then began their offensive march down the field again, starting at their own 48-yard line.
A couple of Lion holding calls delayed the inevitable, but Graff hit pay dirt when Oakley caught and ran his way into the end zone for a 58-yard touchdown for a 39-14 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Ennis defensive lineman Faybian Morris made the hit of the game.
He stopped the kickoff receiver like he had run into a brick wall. Two plays later, Morris made his appearance known again, this time as he intercepted the ball.
Ennis next took over at the Corsicana 20-yard line. Three plays later Harris strutted into the end zone on an 11-yard run for a 46-14 lead.
Graff had an outstanding game, as he threw for 251 yards and finished 13-of-19 for and one rushing touchdown.
The leading receiver for Ennis was Oakley with four catches for 91 yards.
Oakley had a stellar night, as he caught one touchdown pass, kicked a 38-yard field goal, and made all of his five of his point-after attempts.
The always-consistent Thompson rushed 12 times for 61 yards. He scored twice by runs, threw and completed one pass, and also caught five passes for 82 yards.
The win kept Ennis undefeated in District 17-5A, and the Lions were presented the district trophy at mid-field after the game.
Ennis begins the playoffs next Friday, Nov. 17.
The Lions will host the Waco High Lions on their own turf at Lions Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.