CORINTH — There are much better ways to go into a bye week than what the Denison Yellow Jackets experienced against Lake Dallas on Friday night.
On almost every series it seemed to be Newton’s Third Law of Football: for every momentum-turning play there was a momentum-killing one.
The Jackets had a pair of special teams touchdowns but committed 15 penalties.
The Jackets forced six turnovers, including one that was returned for a touchdown, but also allowed nearly 600 yards.
“Honestly it’s one of the craziest games I’ve ever been a part of of,” Denison head coach Chad Rogers said. “It was just a really weird game.”
After climbing back from a three-touchdown second-quarter deficit to hold a one-point lead going to the final 12 minutes, Denison was unable to stop Lake Dallas’ late charge and the Falcons came away with a 52-35 victory in District 7-5A (II) action.
Ryan Depperschmidt was 21-of-33 for 396 yards with three TDs and three interceptions and also ran 13 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns for Lake Dallas (4-1, 2-1), including touchdown throws to Ky’lee Smith and Brandon Engel on back-to-back possessions after Denison (3-3, 2-2) had tied the game at 35 with 11:27 remaining.
Keleon Vaughn had a pair of return TDs for the Jackets, the last coming on a 92-yard kickoff that tied the score after Darryl Minor’s nine-yard run and ensuing two-point conversion had given Lake Dallas a 35-28 lead. Vaughn started on the right hash and worked his way back across the field, eventually scooting past the kicker and staying inbounds to get to the end zone.
“He’s deadly in the open field,” Rogers said.
Vaughn became the sixth Yellow Jacket with at least two return touchdowns in the same game and the first since Tre’ Lyday in 2015. His three this season are one behind the single-season school mark, held by four Jackets.
The teams traded possessions before the Falcons went in front for good on Depperschmidt’s 34-yard pass deep over the middle to Smith, who totaled 11 catches for 177 yards, midway through the fourth.
Denison went three-and-out on its ensuing drive, eschewing going for it on fourth-and-three from its 32 with just over four minutes left. Lake Dallas returned the punt 31 yards to the Jacket 39 and two plays later it was a 34-yard TD pass to Engel, who had six receptions for 144 yards, that widened the gap.
The Jackets tied the game at 21 when Christian McNealy returned a punt 40 yards for a score. Depperschmidt line-drived shanked the punt to McNealy, who was just eight yards off the line of scrimmage along the right side of the field. The ball headed straight for his midsection, he caught it and took off down the sideline less than three minutes into the third quarter.
Denison’s three return touchdowns tied the school record for return TDs in a game, joining efforts in 1992 against Dallas Samuell and 1995 against Paris.
Zaelin Wimbish picked off Depperschmidt three plays later but Denison’s drive went nowhere. After a punt, Lake Dallas tried to have Smith throw a half-back pass to Engel. Vaughn had a potential third interception near midfield wiped out by a penalty and the Falcons eventually scored, but DeCurious Smith blocked the extra point, making it a six-point margin.
Late in the third the Jackets went up 28-27 when Dayveion Lewis fell on a bad snap at the Lake Dallas 10. Cade Gordy scored on a two-yard keeper.
Denison closed the gap to 21-14 at half-time when Vaughn had his second interception of the night and returned it 85 yards for the touchdown with 35 seconds left before the break.
Depperschmidt went back to Engel on a play that just gained 13 yards along the right side and Vaughn jumped the route, headed the other way and avoided the quarterback’s tackle attempt 20 yards into his run to go the distance.
It was Vaughn’s second interception return for a TD in the past three weeks and tied Hubert Huff’s return against Richardson in 1972 for the seventh-longest defensive touchdown in school history.
The Jackets got on the board in the middle of the second quarter off another defensive play. Depperschmidt dropped the snap and was hit by Jordin Hunter, which allowed Javonte Briscoe to scoop up the fumble at the Falcons 32 and return it to the Lake Dallas nine.
Two plays later Kyrion Rosser had a three-yard touchdown run as Denison trimmed the deficit.
The Falcons had taken a 21-0 lead when Engel threw a receiver pass deep over the middle to Ryan Hull for a 34-yard TD less than three minutes into the second quarter.
It was a second straight bad start for the Jackets, who were down 14-0 in the blink of an eye.
Lake Dallas used a 51-yard pass on its first drive after Denison went three-and-out and Depperschmidt scored on an 11-yard run up the middle less than two minutes into the contest.
The Falcons were on the verge of scoring when they got to the three-yard line but Nate Maulsby recovered a fumble. Jadarian Price, who had 21 carries for 155 yards, ripped off a 59-yard run to the Lake Dallas 36 before fumbling on the ensuing snap.
Lake Dallas wasted no time with a 76-yard touchdown pass from Depperschmidt to Engel for a 14-0 advantage with 3:16 remaining in the first.
“They big-played us to death,” Rogers said.
Denison had four straight possessions — two turnovers and two turnovers on downs, all in Lake Dallas territory — before things finally started clicking. Of course by that point the Jackets were down three touchdowns in starting its comeback attempt.