Wagoner's block party helps Jackets beat Memorial

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Denison's Keebler Wagoner blocks a field goal in the fourth quarter of the Yellow Jackets' victory against Frisco Memorial in District 7-5A (II) play at Munson Stadium.

At some point the Warriors had to notice him. If if wasn't on offense, then surely it was defense. And if not there, definitely on special teams.

But no matter where he lined up on the field, Frisco Memorial couldn't stop Keebler Wagoner from making a game-changing play.

Whether it was a big catch, a turnover, a jarring tackle or one of three blocked kicks, Wagoner had his hands all over Denison's victory as the Yellow Jackets pulled away from Frisco Memorial, 42-26, in District 7-5A (II) play at Munson Stadium.

"I'm always doing my best for my family and my teammates. I just try to keep the energy going," the senior safety said. "We try to be hyped for every play, keep the energy on the field all the time."

Wagoner was involved in plenty of plays. His most impactful came on special teams: he blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown during Denison's huge second-quarter to go with a blocked extra point and a blocked field goal in the fourth quarter. He caught three passes for 66 yards, each time converting on third-and-long and twice his reception came before a touchdown on the next snap, and he intercepted a pass on the opening drive of the third quarter.

"I can't say enough about Keebler Wagoner. He did everything tonight," Denison head coach Chad Rogers said. "He never wants to leave the field. He loves to compete."

Jadarian Price had 22 carries for 175 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 84 yards and a score, Asa Osbourn added 19 carries for 60 yards and a TD, Landon Ellis returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown and Caleb Heavner completed 10-of-18 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown for Denison (3-2, 2-1), which goes for three straight wins at Lake Dallas on Friday.

Ethan Lollar completed 15-of-21 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions before being replaced by Charlie Flowers in the middle of the third quarter, Zion Steptoe finished with 134 yards and a TD on seven catches, Garren Huey ran 10 times for 54 yards and a score and Keegan Jackson had eight carries for 54 yards to go with a 16-yard touchdown catch for Frisco Memorial (1-4, 0-3).

"They're a good football team. They were nine points away from being undefeated coming into this," Rogers said. "I think they're going to be trouble for some more people the rest of the way."

Denison never trailed in the second half but Memorial made it interesting with its final touchdown.

The Jackets came up with interceptions in their own end on the Warriors' first two series in the third frame, first by Wagoner and then when Memorial switched to Flowers on the next possession — Jalik Lewis came up with the pick.

But Denison couldn't cash in either. After Memorial was pinned at its three following a 62-yard punt from Reece Stange, the Warriors went the length of the field in 11 plays and Flowers scored on a one-yard keeper with 57 seconds left in the quarter and the Jackets held just a 28-26 advantage.

Price came to the rescue on the ensuing possession when he caught a pass out of the backfield on third-and-17 and was able to break a pair of tackles down the left sideline to finish off a 72-yard TD pass with 9:57 remaining.

Memorial got to the Denison 16 but was stopped there. On a 34-yard field goal try by Ian Villarreal, Wagoner came screaming off the right edge and not only blocked the kick but returned it to midfield.

The Jackets held the ball for nearly five minutes with a 12-play drive, all on the ground, and Osbourn sealed the win with a a three-yard run through the left side with 3:23 left.

Denison took a 28-19 half-time lead as the Jackets scored in all three phases to turn a 12-point deficit into the nine-point advantage.

Price's 45-yard touchdown run less than a minute into the second quarter and came a play after Wagoner’s 23-yard catch on third-and-eight.

Facing a two-TD deficit in the middle of the second, Wagoner and Price came up with the key plays — first a 15-yard reception from Wagoner on third-and-eight and Price scored on the next play, racing to the left corner on a 13-yard TD run with 3:20 left in the half.

Within seconds Denison took the lead for good. Ellis intercepted Lollar on the first snap of the ensuing drive and the senior linebacker returned it 45 yards down the right sideline to put the Jackets in front by two.

"That really got us going," Rogers said.

Less than a minute later the advantage was nine when Wagoner blocked Lollar’s punt off the left edge and then chased it down in the end zone, getting there before Lollar with 2:11 left until intermission.

"That was the best one," Wagoner said. "I think I blocked it with my jaw."

The Warriors struggled after scoring on their first three possessions for a 19-7 lead.

"We're not where we want to be but we're going to get there," Rogers said. "It was a good test for us."

Lollar connected with Steptoe for a 63-yard TD and a 6-0 margin with 8:48 to go in the first after Wagoner blocked the extra point.

Memorial forced a punt and then went 74 yards in 13 plays and held a 12-0 lead on Huey’s 12-yard run in the final minute of the first quarter. The Warriors went for two and failed.

After the Jackets got on the board, Memorial answered when Jackson capped a 67-yard drive by scoring on a 16-yard swing pass to the left side from Lollar, who was 13-for-18 for 163 yards in the half — including an 8-of-8 start, with 8:58 to go until the break.

The Warriors had four more possessions in the quarter but did not run a play in Denison territory. With just over a minute left in the half, Jeremy Lau hauled in a pass on third-and-31 for what would have been a 75-yard touchdown pass but the third holding penalty in four snaps brought it back.

District 7-5A (II)

Denison                     42

Frisco Memorial         26