Denison struggles in road loss
TEXARKANA — Just a week after doing everything right in the second half to turn a close game into a lopsided win, the Yellow Jackets not only struggled to put points on the board, the issues extended to just moving the ball down the field.
And while the Texas High Tigers didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard themselves, they made just enough big plays and relied on a smothering defense for a 24-3 victory over Denison in non-district action.
“Not much worked tonight,” Jackets head coach Chad Rogers said. “Our production is just not there. Is that us or them or a combination of both?
Denison (1-1) managed just 177 total yards, including 70 on 32 carries, had three turnovers and did not gain a first down on its first six possessions of the second half.
It was a stark contrast to the opening win over Sherman and now the Jackets head into their bye this week before opening District 7-5A (II) play by hosting Lovejoy on October 16.
“We’ll learn from it. We have to,” Rogers said. “We’re going to work and make sure we get better."
The Jackets avoided their first shutout in 10 years when Reece Stange made a 27-yard field goal in the middle of the fourth quarter. Xzavier Washington recovered a fumble at the Texas High 12 but the ensuing three plays gained just two yards and led to the kick.
Braylon Stewart had 18 carries for 146 yards while Brayson McHenry completed 8-of-13 passes for 95 yards and TD throws to Clayton Smith and Blake Rogers and Jalen Jones picked off two passes for Texas High (2-0).
Asa Osbourn led Denison, which was penalized 10 times for 78 yards, with 16 carries for 63 yards, Jadarian Price totaled eight carries for 22 yards and caught 10 passes for only 34 yards, Caleb Heavner was 19-of-31 passing for 117 yards with three interceptions and Keegan Pruitt had four catches for 49 yards.
“You play one of the better teams in the area and learn what you’re made of,” Rogers said. “I need to do a better job. We’ll figure it out."
The Tigers scored both of their second-half touchdowns in the span of two minutes in the third quarter.
Texas High went 67 yards in 11 plays and Vontrey Henderson, who had 19 carries for 69 yards, plunged into the end zone from a yard out to cap the five-minute drive for a 17-0 advantage.
Denison went three-and-out and the Tigers needed just two plays to make it 24-0 when Rogers hauled in a 38-yard TD pass deep down the right sideline.
The Jackets were unable to take advantage of Malichi Hall recovering a muffed punt to keep possession and Osbourn recovering an onside kick after the field goal.
Denison’s best drive of the second half came with 3:32 left when it picked up 65 yards and reached the Tigers 15 before turning the ball over on downs with 17 seconds left.
The Jackets were down 10-0 at half-time after the Tigers got a 34-yard field goal by Oscar Hernandez with 41 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
On the previous five possessions for Texas High, the Jackets forced four punts — including three three-and-outs — around the Tigers’ lone TD drive.
“I thought the defense played well,” Rogers said.
Texas High started that scoring series by forcing a turnover on downs at its 30-yard line in the first minute of the second quarter.
The Tigers went nine plays and McHenry connected with Smith on a four-yard pass in the right side of the end zone for the 7-0 advantage with 8:01 to go in the half.
Denison had seven possessions before the break and four of them were in Texas High territory but none made it past the 35-yard line.
Helped by a pair of personal foul penalties, the Jackets’ best drive to that point ended with a turnover as Heavner was hit trying for a long pass from the 35 and Caleb Arnold snagged it for the interception.
The next Jacket drive ended in the turnover on downs, also at the 35, on an incomplete pass.
Denison had a series start at the Texas High 36 in the middle of the second after a 17-yard punt to go with a nine-yard return from Keleon Vaughn. But the first two plays lost a combined nine yards and the Jackets punted after an incompletion.
On the final play of the half, Denison tried to get on the board with a Hail Mary after getting past midfield but Jones came up with an interception to send the teams to the locker room.
The Tigers had 135 yards at half-time with Stewart gaining 102 yards on 15 carries.
The Jackets had 97 yards through two quarters with Osbourn carrying 10 times for 47 yards. Heavner was 6-of-15 for 31 yards with the two INTs.