In a moment that needed a big play in order for Denison to stay undefeated, senior receiver Dalton Souther was the Yellow Jacket the offense turned to.
Trailing by three points in the closing minutes, the team needed to produce points after Frisco had taken the lead with a big pass play earlier in the fourth quarter.
“We talked about it,” Souther said. “That was the plan — take it down and put it in the end zone.”
Denison had possession at its 33-yard line with a little under 3:30 left in the contest. And in the blink of an eye, the Jackets had the lead after Souther’s catch-and-run covered 67 yards for the first touchdown of his varsity career.
It was the first catch of the season for the senior, who had four catches for 20 yards last year. He lined up wide on the right side and was able to get behind his defender going deep across the field.
“We had talked about being able to get behind him. He was back-peddling a bit so I went in front of him first,” Souther said. “I pinched it with my fingers and prayed. I had to go get that one.”
The throw by Austin Emery was caught on his left hip in stride at the Frisco 40-yard line and he raced to the end zone with what turned out to be the deciding points in the 21-10 victory.
“It was a great throw,” Denison head coach Chad Rogers said. “They came out with some bounce in their step. They knew they had to do something on that drive.”
The Jackets were an extremely run-heavy offense in 2016 due to Emery’s shoulder injury that sidelined him for district play. Souther had started the season down the depth chart but started seeing more snaps as the year wound to a close and was expected to have more responsibility in the passing game this fall.
“He may not catch a ball in practice but then he won’t drop one in a game,” Rogers said. “He goes and gets it.”
The captains for Denison’s victory against Frisco last week were seniors Ty McFail, Jadan Forbes, Kyle Finch and junior Nate Maulsby. It was the second straight week McFail, Forbes and Finch were selected as captains. The Jackets are rotating the four spots from week to week based on what happens during practice and the prior game.
Changing of the tackle
The Jackets did make a slight change on the offensive line last week against the Raccoons. While four starters remained the same — junior left tackle Ryan Riddle, senior left guard Talon Moore, senior center Osvaldo Delarosa and senior right guard Kade Finch — there was a switch at the right tackle spot.
Sophomore Drew Williams stepped in to replace junior Stephen Fulenchek, who earned the nod against Trinity Christian-Addison.
Turning the tables
In the first two games of the season, the Denison defense has already come up with six turnovers, including three fumbles last week in the win over Frisco, and it’s a promising start under defensive coordinator Todd Wallis.
Senior defensive end Logan Wagner started the scoring when he recovered a fumble and returned it seven yards for a touchdown, junior outside linebacker Cade Gordy recovered one early in the third quarter in Raccoon territory and sophomore defensive tackle Bralynn Ramsey helped seal the win when he jumped on one with 1:47 left in the game at the Frisco seven-yard line and the Jackets up 14-10.
Wagner gave Denison a 7-3 half-time lead right before half-time with his play.
“I just saw it and picked it up,” he said. “We work on it in practice all the time.”
In the season-opener, Wagner had a fumble recovery, junior Javen Stewart covered a fumble in the end zone fpr a score on special teams and sophomore defensive back Zaelin Wimbish intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter to seal a 28-24 victory against Trinity Christian-Addison.
“Coaches work turnover drills in practice all the time. Coach Wallis is always preaching it,” Rogers said. “They’re ballhawks and they’re getting a little hungry.”