When things are going your way, like they were for the Denison Yellow Jackets, even the unlikeliest of touchdowns can be scored.
There were plenty of trips to the end zone on this night, but rare is it an offensive lineman can join in the fun. And at the end of a nearly perfect first half, senior guard Jose Conejo provided the exclamation point.
Conejo jumped on a fumble at the goal line to give Denison a six-score advantage as the Jackets also picked up touchdowns on defense and special teams to blow out Lake Dallas, 62-14, in District 7-5A (II) action at Dr. Rene and Eva Gerard Field at Munson Stadium.
With under a minute left in the half, Conejo didn’t hear a whistle as Jadarian Price was met by two defenders and when the ball was loose, he dove to cover it for a 38-0 lead.
“I turned around to see if he scored and the ball was just laying on the defensive tackle’s back,” he said. “I scooped it up. When I got up and saw the ref signal, I was like ‘did I just score?’”
Asa Osbourn had 19 carries for 104 yards and three touchdowns, Caleb Heavner ran for 107 yards and a score on eight attempts, Jakalen Fields recovered a blocked punt for a TD and Keleon Vaughn returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown as Denison (4-2, 3-1) heads into its bye week in a tie for second place.
“It’s so fast paced. That’s why our offense is so good,” Osbourn said. “I get tackled and it’s right back up for the next play. The defense did so great. The o-line did great. That’s what it’s supposed to look like.”
Lake Dallas (1-4, 0-3) was down 41-0 before it got on the board with a 70-yard run by Fabian Nava in the middle of the third. Hunter Markham had the other score for the Falcons on a one-yard plunge with 27 seconds left in the game.
There were six turnovers — four interceptions — and 13 penalties by the Falcons to go with a couple of miscues on special teams.
“I think we did a great job of being focused. Just appreciate the way the team prepared,” Denison head coach Chad Rogers said. “Last year we came out of the bye week really well. We’ll have to do it again.”
In the fourth quarter, Austen Patterson and Javonte Briscoe recovered fumbles on back-to-back possessions in Lake Dallas territory.
Osbourn finished off the first drive with a 21-yard TD run up the middle and Heavner did the honors with an eight-yard keeper around the right end with 6:18 to give the Jackets a 62-7 lead.
Almost all of Denison’s offense came on the ground. Heavner completed just 2-of-6 passes for three yards and had his first interception of the season but the ground game did plenty with good field position to the tune of 54 carries for 339 yards.
“The o-line guys came off the field and said ‘they know what’s coming. They’re calling out our plays,”” Rogers said. “And we were still able to have success like that.”
The Falcons turned the ball over on downs to open the third quarter and Reece Stange kicked a 23-yard field goal on the ensuing drive. He became just the second Yellow Jacket with multiple two-field-goal games, joining Jacob Powell in 2008.
Nava broke lose to help Lake Dallas avoid the shutout on the first play of the next drive and the Falcons recovered a fumble to get the ball right back. But Vaughn picked off his second pass of the game by jumping a route on the left sideline and bringing it back for the TD.
“Playing his eyes. They were running the same stuff so much,” Vaughn said. “When we get going, it just clicks.”
After the first 12 minutes Denison had scored three times, kicked a field goal and was up 24-0. In the last two first quarters, the Jackets have outscored their opponents 52-3.
Denison needed just six plays to get on the board when Price, who had 18 carries for 78 yards, scored on a five-yard run.
On Lake Dallas’ third play, Jalik Lewis came up with an interception along the left sideline at the Falcon 37 and nearly ran it back but was knocked out at the one.
A first-down penalty pushed the Jackets back and they were forced to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Stange.
The teams traded interceptions — Landon Ellis picked his off at the Denison 36 and Falcon QB Brandon Engel made a saving tackle at the Lake Dallas 8. Two plays later Heavner was intercepted by Kobe Minor in the end zone.
The Jackets were better off after the exchange. A 12-yard punt landed at the Lake Dallas 15 and Osbourn score from two yards out on fourth-and-goal for a 17-0 lead with 4:13 to go in the quarter.
When the Falcons got the ball back deep in their own territory, the Jackets swamed punter Preston Gregg as he dropped the snap, Ellis got a piece of the attempt and Fields jumped on the ball in the end zone to make it a 24-0 margin.
In the second quarter, the Jackets padded their lead with a pair of touchdowns in the final four minutes while Vaughn blocked a 34-yard field goal attempt to keep the Falcons scoreless.
The first TD came after Lake Dallas turned the ball over on downs at the Denison 33 and the Jackets kept the possession going on a Heavner sneak on fourth-and-one at the Denison 42.
Osbourn capped off the drive with a one-yard run up the middle and a 31-0 advantage.
A quick three-and-out by the Falcons allowed Denison to get into the end zone one more time before the break. Heavner was sprung by a Dameon Smallwood block on a 59-yard keeper to the Lake Dallas 12 and four snaps later Conejo had his touchdown for a 38-0 margin.
“That’s the best our defense has looked in a long time,” Rogers said.