Sack Friday: Lions bag another win


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John Tyler''s DeQuante Woods stiff-arms a Wylie defender on the way to the end zone in a 38-10 win in the area round at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. (Herb Nygren Jr/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

John Tyler’s defense shopped for quarterbacks in an area round win over Wylie better described as “Sack Friday.”

JT intends to keep searching for the goods throughout the holiday season, with the ultimate gift a Class 4A Division I state championship trophy in late December.

The day known as Black Friday carried another meaning for Cujo Nation, with JT ringing up nine sacks on a Wylie team dressed in their all-black “Ahmo” playoff uniforms.

Cujo charged into the regional round for the fourth straight year, with their chance to end an 18-year drought without a state championship getting higher. JT owns a 13-0 all-time record in the third round of the playoffs.

JT (11-1) meets Frisco (9-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the all-new, gleaming Eagle Stadium in Allen, a $60 million venue in its first year of operation.

Tyus Bowser bottled up Wylie’s quarterback repeatedly to finish with seven sacks. Bowser raised his hands to indicate his sack total numerous times to the home crowd. The 6-3, 230-pound senior defensive end, who also plays quarterback and receiver, returns kicks and handles the deep snapping duties, increased his sack-total to 19 on the season.

“Tyus is coming into his own,” JT head coach Ricklan Holmes said. “He’s starting to understand he is the defensive player that we’ve all been wanting him to be. He’s showing it week-in and week-out.”

The Lions won despite an off-night by their own high offensive standards, and the home field appearing a disadvantage at times. In six home games, JT received 56 penalties for 512 yards.

Much to the dismay of John Tyler’s crowd, footage of Wylie’s football team played on the video screen moments before kickoff. After Wiley’s video ended, JT provided the bulk of the highlight reel from then on. The Lions dropped the Pirates for 10 negative gains, and held Wylie to minus-five yards rushing in the second half.

Fred Ross darted through the Wylie defense for a 68-yard TD reception from Greg Ward in the second quarter. DeQuante Woods blasted his way to a 79-yard TD run to get the third quarter going.

JT’s “Hit Hard” defense, allowing only 15.3 points per game, compliments an offense scoring 41.6 points on average.

Traven Johnson scored on a 30-yard interception return in the second half against Wylie for JT’s fourth defensive TD of the season.

“The defense came on strong and stepped up big,” said Johnson, who has three takeaways and a team-high 10 pass breakups on the season. “Defense wins championships, and that’s what we’re trying to do right now.”

With the playoff field down to 16 teams, JT’s goals remain unchanged — to be the last one standing after the 16th game.

“It feels the same as it did since week one, since the beginning of summer and since the first day of practice,” Holmes said of JT’s championship aspirations. “We still have that goal in mind and we’re not going to stop until we get there.”

 

John Tyler Rewind

Final score: John Tyler 38, Wylie 10.

Turning point: After Wylie pulled within a touchdown (10-3), and held JT to 63 yards through 16 minutes, Fred Ross reeled in a 68-yard TD reception to make it a two-touchdown game before halftime.

The game was over when: DeQuante Woods raced 79 yards for a TD on JT’s opening drive of the second half, and Traven Johnson returned an interception 30 yards less than two minutes later for a commanding 31-3 lead.

Key stats: Wylie went 2 for 16 on third-down conversions, JT’s three offensive TDs covered an average distance of 60 yards.

Warning signs: JT’s offense sputtered at times, gaining only 31 yards in the first quarter and finishing with nine negative rushes and a season-high 18 incompletions.

Positive signs: Despite gaining 79 yards less than their season average, the Lions thoroughly dominated a team with six 10-win seasons this decade, including an appearance in the 2008 Class 5A Division II championship game.

What this win means: JT has now won 11 games four consecutive seasons for the second time in program history. JT holds a 46-9 record since 2009. JT amassed a 51-6 record from 1994-97.

Fast forward: JT meets a Frisco team in the Class 4A Division I Region II semifinals coming off a 42-7 win over Dallas Samuell 42-7 in the area round. Frisco outgained Samuell 460-97 in total yardage. The Raccoons, who won 10 games last year, upended Highland Park 21-20 in bi-district. Frisco finished second in District 9-4A behind Frisco Centennial (11-1), who takes on Red Oak (9-3) in the other regional semifinal.