For years as a Gilmer assistant, Kurt Traylor watched as his older brother, Jeff and most recently Matt Turner, received an honorary football as the head coach of the winning team for the Christus Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic.
On Saturday afternoon it was his turn, as Traylor graciously accepted the prize after Tyler Lee defeated Corsicana 42-15 in his first-ever home game as Red Raiders head coach.
“I always wanted one of these,” Traylor said while holding the football. “Jeff and Coach Turner always had these in their office and I finally get to put one up in my office.”
The Red Raiders (2-0) fell behind against Marshall, but were able to come back and win in Week 1.
Traylor wanted his team to jump on Corsicana (1-1) early and the Red Raiders listened. Matt Taylor returned the opening kickoff 35 yards into Corsicana territory. On fourth-and-7 from the Tigers 41, Chance Amie rifled a 22-yard pass to Te’vion Massey for a first down. Three plays later, Amie and Massey hooked up again for a 10-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
The Red Raiders defense then forced a three-and-out.
“I was just so excited about executing on that first drive,” Traylor said after the game. “And then our defense just comes out and punches them right in the mouth.”
One of Robert E. Lee’s three forced turnovers helped the Red Raiders make it 15-0. Rhett Parker stepped in front of a pass and returned the interception to the Corsicana 28. From there, Amie and Massey hooked up again for 23 yards and Ladarius Wickware took it in on a 5-yard touchdown run, one of two scoring runs he had in the game. Instead of lining up for the PAT, Lanthony Simmons carried the ball for a 2-point conversion.
Corsicana got on the board with a 26-yard TD keeper from quarterback Blake Hoffman, who also ran in the two-point conversion to cut Lee’s lead to 15-8.
Lee’s defense produced three turnaround sequences to make sure it stayed in control.
This was the first.
On the ensuing kickoff, no one from Lee took charge to try and catch the pooch kick. It hit the turf and a mad scramble ensued with Corsicana recovering at the Lee 27.
The Red Raiders stop unit gave up nine yards on first down. And that was it. On three consecutive runs, Lee stuffed Corsicana to force a turnover on downs.
“It’s good to see that they are competing out there because they could’ve (hung their heads after that muffed kick),” Traylor said of his defense. “They understand that we needed a stop right there; that we needed to stop their momentum.”
Lee led 22-8 in the second quarter, but an interception by Corsicana’s Prince Henderson set the Tigers up again. And again, Lee’s defense answered the call, forcing a fumble on first and goal with Jordan Printers recovering.
In the third quarter with Lee leading 30-8 following a 2-yard TD pass from Amie to Malcolm Miller, the Red Raiders defense did themselves one better and made what turned out to be the deciding play of the game.
Corsicana pulled within 30-15 on a 38-yard TD pass from Hoffman to Z’Antyler Foster-Hooks.
A turnover by Lee gave the Tigers possession at the Red Raiders 41.
Corsicana moved it to the 20, and on first-and-10, Hoffman thought he had a wide-open receiver on the other side of the field. But by the time Hoffman’s pass got to its destination, Simmons had made up the distance and intercepted it in the end zone.
The Red Raiders drove 80 yards in nine plays, capped by a 4-yard scoring run from Printers to end any more comeback thoughts.
“That is a good ball club with good players, a good offensive line and a great quarterback,” Traylor said of Corsicana. “It’s exciting to see how much we improved (from last week) and we haven’t reached our potential.
“We are just going to show up every day and pound on that stone and keep getting better every day.”
RAIDER RAP: It was the third game of the CTMF Football Classic. John Tyler defeated Ennis 27-23 on Friday in the second game as both Tyler schools enter Week 3 with 2-0 records. Whitehouse won the opener Thursday to also sit at 2-0 as it looks to its next opponent. The Red Raiders will next face Nacogdoches at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Dragon Stadium.