Table set: JT primed for long run


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John Tyler QB Greg Ward jumps out of the way of Waxahachie players during the Class 4A Division I bi-district playoff game at Garland's Homer B. Johnson Stadium. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

John Tyler’s first playoff win whet the Lions’ appetite for more feasting going into the Thanksgiving break.

JT’s offense provided the main course for a bi-district victory, with touchdowns on its final nine possessions of the game. The defense added the icing on the cake, forcing five turnovers and scoring the final touchdown to help JT set a new school record for points in a 77-20 win over Waxahachie.

JT (10-1) now turns its attention to Wylie (6-5) for an area matchup, slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mesquite’s Hanby Stadium. Wylie used a balanced attack to defeat JT 20-16 on its home field in the 2010 state quarterfinals. The loss marked the first of a rarity since JT joined Class 4A in 2010, with the Lions going 27-3 in-class since dropping down.

Wylie (6-5) averages more than 256 passing yards per game, a key statistic seeing as JT will possibly be without its two starting safeties in Elliott Hart and Terry Ausborne, who patrolled the secondary the past 26 games together. The safeties could earn one-game suspensions for taking part in a melee on the Waxahachie sideline late in the third quarter with JT comfortably ahead.

Waxahachie appeared to be the aggressors in the confrontation, with several Indians taking noticeable shots at the outnumbered Lions, who received two of the three ejections nonetheless.

“We’ve got guys that can step in and hopefully they get us through this next game,” JT head coach Ricklan Holmes said. “There are going to be more teams that are going to talk trash to us. Anytime you’re the best, people are going to test you. We have to understand we can’t be tested and retaliate.”

The Lions looked like legit state title contenders with the school’s largest playoff win in history. JT’s blockers opened up holes all night, from the line to the receivers. As a result, JT produced a 300-yard passer (Greg Ward), and a 150-yard rusher (DeQuante Woods) and receiver (Fred Ross) in the offensive masterpiece.

“It lets you know our third goal is very reachable,” Holmes said. “It lets us know we can be a state champion if we stick to what we do and continue to do it better.”

 

JT Rewind

Final score: John Tyler 77, Waxahachie 20

Turning point: Greg Ward’s 49-yard touchdown run, coming on the third play of the third quarter off a quarterback keeper, upped the lead to 42-20 while setting the wheels in motion for a rout.

The game was over when: Several members of Waxahachie’s team engaged in a scuffle with a couple of heavily-outnumbered John Tyler players on the Indians sideline with the Lions ahead 56-20 near the end of the third quarter. Three suspensions resulted from the rumble, two against JT. The Lions went on to score three more TDs, one on defense, to complete the historical victory.

Key stats: JT doubled its season rushing averaged with 333 yards on 30 carries.

Warning signs: JT may be without its starting safety duo of senior Elliott Hart and junior Terry Ausborne due to ejections in the win over Waxahachie. Ausborne leads the Lions with six interceptions after picking off one of three passes against Waxahachie. Hart ranks second on the team with five interceptions.

Plus signs: The offense peaked on Friday with more than 300 yards rushing and passing and a school-record with 77 points. JT’s potency on offense alone, coupled with a defense now plus-18 in takeaway ratio with three defensive scores, bolsters the Lions' title hopes.

What this win means: The 2012 Lions became the 14th team in school history to reach the 10-win plateau. Previous JT teams with 10 wins included: 1930, 1938, 1955, 1973, 1978, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Fast forward: JT gets a chance to avenge a bitter loss in 2010 against Wylie. Five current JT seniors started in the defeat.