Bitter End: Despite epic rally, Lions fall to Guyer in shootout


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John Tyler junior Greg Johnson reacts after the Lions lost to Denton Guyer on Friday night during the 4A Division I state semifinal game at Midlothoian Stadium. (Sarah A. Miller | Tyler Morning Telegraph)
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John Tyler senior DeQuante Woods falls to the ground in disbelief after the Lions lost to Denton Guyer on Friday night in the 4A Division I state semifinal game at Midlothoian Stadium. (Sarah A. Miller | Tyler Morning Telegraph)
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MIDLOTHIAN — John Tyler’s Cujo magic lost steam to a more physical Denton Guyer football team.

Guyer grounded JT’s plans to play for the title, using Richard Whitaker’s 21-yard go-ahead touchdown run with 1:14 left, and its third interception moments later, to complete a 57-53 win over the Lions in a classic matchup of heavyweights Friday in the Class 4A Division I state semifinals.

In a comeback eerily similar to one JT wound up winning during 1994’s state championship season over Plano East, the Lions found themselves on the other end this time after erasing a 19-point deficit with 6:00 showing on the clock.

Guyer junior quarterback Jerrod Heard, a Texas pledge, stole the show from JT QB Greg Ward, running 35 times for 308 yards and the Wildcats’ first four TDs.

Guyer (13-2) advances to next Saturday’s state championship game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, where they await the winner of today’s semifinal between Georgetown and Leander Rouse. Guyer played for the 5A Division II crown in 2010 and lost in the semifinals in 4A in 2008 and 2009.

JT (13-2) stopped one game shy of the finale for the second straight year. The Lions wrapped up their fourth straight deep trip in the postseason, including appearances in the state quarterfinals in 2009 and 2010.

The Lions, who overcame a 24-point deficit in the regular season finale and an 11-point hole in regionals, finished shy of completing another stunning comeback.

“The kids kept fighting,” JT head coach Ricklan Holmes said. “They went all the way to the end. That’s what they’ve been doing all year long.”

JT stormed back from a 50-31 hole at the six-minute mark to take a lead after three TDs in a span of 74 seconds. JT used two TDs passes from Ward to DeQuante Woods and recovered two onside kicks before Tyus Bowser bowled in on a 1-yard run, and the two-point conversion, to put JT on top 53-50 with 3:44 left.

With Guyer facing its first deficit, Heard headed 22 yards upfield on a third-and-7 to move the chains. Heard hit Ellis Jefferson on a 10-yard pickup moments later on fourth-and-4 to keep the Guyer drive going. Two plays later, Whitaker scooted past the JT defense for Guyer’s eighth rushing TD of the game, and 79th of the season.

Guyer gained an astonishing 596 yards rushing. Heard headed the charged, followed by D.J. Breedlove with 13 carries for 169 yards and two TDs and Whitaker (12 carries, 108 yards, two TDs).

Ward starred in his own right, completing 48 of 65 passes for a school-record 551 yards and five TDs. Ward totaled 660 yards of offense, including 109 rushing and another score. Ward tossed an uncharacteristic three interceptions, one more than his season total through 14 games,

Several JT receivers enjoyed big nights, led by Darion Flowers (10-159, TD), Fred Ross (10-132, TD), Justice Liggins (9-131, TD) and Woods (9-92).

JT’s defense failed to heed the call in the first half, with the Lions never leading due to three rushing TDs by Heard. Guyer rushed for 259 yards in the first half compared to JT’s 230 yards passing.

The Lions squandered a chance to score after driving 64 yards on the opening possession and getting a 28-yard field goal blocked, the difference as JT trailed 20-17 at the midway point.

Heard capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive on Guyer’s first possession with a 4-yard keeper to give the Wildcats a 6-0 lead.

JT trimmed the deficit in half with a 26-yard field goal from Porfirio Benitez.

Guyer needed three plays to strike back, with Breedlove bursting 35 yards past midfield before Heard hit JT for a 35-yard TD on a draw for a 13-3 advantage.

JT struck back in four plays, with Ward going over the middle to find Flowers on a 23-yard TD pass, making it a three-point game again (13-10).

Guyer gave it to its backs on all but one play of a nine-play, 75-yard drive, finished by Heard’s 13-yard keeper.

The Lions motored downfield on the arm of Ward, who hit seven completions, including a 4-yard out route to Ross for a TD to get JT within 20-17 late in the half.

Flowers intercepted Heard on the final play of the half to send JT into the locker room with a dose of momentum.

“We knew what we needed to stop and we just couldn’t stop it,” Holmes said leaving the field while getting congratulations from well-wishers. “We just ran out of time and didn’t score enough points.”

———

Class 4A Division I State Semifinals

Denton Guyer 57, John Tyler 53

At Midlothian Multi-Purpose Stadium

John Tyler 0 17 0 36—53

Denton Guyer 6 14 10 27—57

First Quarter

DEN—Jerrod Heard 4 run (PAT failed), 5:58

Second Quarter

JT—FG Porfirio Benitez 26, 10:20

DEN—Heard 35 run (Brad Grems), 9:15

JT—Darion Flowers 23 pass from Ward (Benitez kick), 8:15

DEN—Heard 13 run (Grems kick), 4:17

JT—Fred Ross 4 pass from Ward (Benitez kick), 1:52

Third Quarter

DEN—Heard 71 run (Grems kick), 11:10

DEN—FG Nate Maki 21, 2:06

Fourth Quarter

JT—Ward 12 run (Benitez kick), 10:12

DEN—D.J. Breedlove 24 run (run failed), 9;20

DEN—Richard Whitaker 21 run (Grems kick), 6:51

JT—Justice Liggins 65 pass from Ward (Benitez kick), 6:34

DEN—Breedlove 39 run (Grems kick), 6:00

JT—DeQuante Woods 8 pass from Ward (Benitez kick), 4:58

JT—Woods 34 pass from Ward (Benitez kick), 4:44

JT—Tyus Bowser 1 run (Bowser run), 3:44

DEN—Whitaker 18 run (Grems kick), 1:14

EST.ATT. —7500.

JTDEN

First Downs3331

Rushes-Yards18-12762-596

Passing Yards55172

Com.-Att.-Int.48-65-36-10-1

Punts-Avg.2-46.52-57.0

Fumbles-Lost1-02-1

Penalties-Yards 5-426-41

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—John Tyler, Greg Ward 12-109, Fred Ross 1-19, Tyus Bowser 1-1, Reggie Gipson 1-0, DeQuante Woods 3-(-2). Denton Guyer, Jerrod Heard 35-308, D.J. Breedlove 13-169, Richard Whitaker 12-108, Nate Maki 2-11.

PASSING—John Tyler, Ward 48-65-3—551. Denton Guyer, Heard 6-10-1—72.

RECEIVING—John Tyler, Darion Flowers 11-159, Ross 10-132, Justice Liggins 9-131, Woods 9-92, Gipson 7-24, Bowser 1-11, Jeremy Wilson 1-1. Denton Guyer, Ellis Jefferson 4-59, Whitaker 1-8, Preston Thrailkill 1-5.