PARIS — For a quarter and a half, youthful Pottsboro was hanging tough with six-time state champion and 2012 state runner-up Daingerfield.

PARIS — For a quarter and a half, youthful Pottsboro was hanging tough with six-time state champion and 2012 state runner-up Daingerfield.


The Cardinals forced a punt midway through the second quarter, and had the ball with a chance to take the lead before the first half expired. Then the bottom fell out.


The Tigers scored two quick touchdowns before halftime — including a pass with no time left in the first half — and added a 99-yard bomb to start the second half as Pottsboro’s season came to a halt with a stinging 56-10 loss in the Class 2A Division I region semifinals at Wildcat Stadium.


"Our kids fought as hard as they could," Cardinals head coach Matt Poe said. "Daingerfield’s a good team. They’re very athletic and have a lot of speed."


The loss was the worst-ever in the playoffs for the Cards, surpassing both the 47-point defensive total given up to New Boston two years ago and a 37-point total margin to Pilot Point in 1983.


But even so, playing on Thanksgiving weekend was a thrill for the Cardinals, who started seven sophomores and only carried nine seniors on the roster.


"These young men accomplished a lot," Poe said. "We were hopeful we could make the playoffs (at the beginning of the season), but we weren’t sure. This was a great team effort by those guys all season long."


Cordarius Anderson rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns, and Keris Alexander passed for two scores and 207 yards on 8-of-11 attempts and also snuck in a TD for Daingerfield (10-3), which is in the region finals for the sixth consecutive year. The Tigers will take on District 8-2A rival New Boston, a 34-27 winner over Malakoff, next Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Mount Pleasant in the 2A Division I state quarterfinals.


Keynon Whetstone also ran for 100 yards and two TDs and caught a pass for a third score for Daingerfield. Whetstone was 8-for-8 on extra-point kicks as the Tigers ended the game with 42 unanswered tallies.


For Pottsboro (11-2), senior Kory Waller accounted for all of the Cardinal points. He kicked a 31-yard field goal early in the second quarter, and moments later snagged a pass from Hunter Mullenix for a 50-yard score to cut the margin to 14-10.


"We came out and did what nobody thought we could do," Waller said. "Nobody thought we would even win five games. Making it to the third round of the playoffs feels great."


Waller finished with five receptions for 74 yards and junior Zack Lovelady caught eight passes for 67 yards for Pottsboro. Mullenix, a junior, was 11-of-15 through the air for 153 yards. His quarterbacking-tandem partner, sophomore Zane Pritchett, finished with 16 carries for 46 yards.


Junior Thaddeus Flinn, who’s been battling a hip injury since the playoffs started, returned to the backfield and had 11 carries for 36 yards.


For the game’s first 18 minutes, the Cardinals played on almost equal terms with Daingerfield and got a stop, forcing a Tiger punt.


"We were playing good defense," Poe said. "We were flying around to the ball and when we got there, we were tackling well. You miss a tackle with athletes like that, you’re in trouble. They’ve got the speed to go all the way."


That’s what started the Cardinals’ downfall midway through the second quarter.


After Pottsboro punted with 6:05 left before halftime, the Tigers converted a fourth down, benefited from a 15-yard Cardinal penalty on the same play, and widened the lead to 21-10 on Anderson’s 5-yard sweep to the right.


The next two Daingerfield scores were daggers.


After Pottsboro drove to the Tiger 36-yard line before running out of downs with 12.5 seconds left, Daingerfield scored at the buzzer on a two-play drive spanning 64 yards. A 40-yard run by Anderson set up Alexander’s lob to Whetsone with all-zeroes on the clock, and Daingerfield went to the dressing room with a 28-10 lead.


Then to start the second half, after being pinned by a deep Waller punt at their own 6, the Tigers almost gave up a safety when Anderson was dropped at the 1. But Alexander threw along the home sideline to Keaten Key, who hauled in a tipped ball at his own 35, stayed inbounds somehow, and raced down the field for a 99-yard score that made it 35-10 and slammed the door shut.


"Those two plays really hurt," Waller said.


The rout was on after that as Anderson tacked on a 60-yard run, Whetstone exploded up the middle for a 64-yarder, and Spencer Alexander ended the scoring with a 30-yard fumble return with nine minutes to go.


Pottsboro’s group of seniors is small, but made a difference. Left guard Charlie Bray, a 6-foot-7, 320-pounder, is receiving interest from Division I schools, and Waller plans to attend North Texas and may try to walk on as a kicker.


"They were great leaders for our football team," Poe said. "That group, I don’t think they won a game in middle school. To come out here and be playing in the third round of the playoffs as seniors, that’s a big achievement for those young men."


The wealth of underclassmen ensures that the Cardinals will remain the team to beat for the next few years.


"We’ve got a lot of kids back," Poe said. "We’re excited abut the future of Pottsboro football, that’s for sure."