Defensive Struggle Throughout
By Will Johnson
LOVELADY – It was a battle of the defenses on Friday night, Sept. 7 as the Tenaha Tigers swaggered into Lovelady for a showdown against the Lovelady Lions. Tenaha was ranked in the Top 10 of Class 2A DI while the Lions were ranked in the Top 10 in Class 2A DII.
Lovelady won the coin toss and deferred to start the game, bit kicked the ball out of bounds to give the Tigers great field position at the 44 of the Lions. After a completion from Tenaha’s Hayden Jenkins to Jay Lloyd, Jenkins was picked off by Lovelady’s TreVon Hawkins to give Lovelady possession of the ball at their own 13.
The Lions moved the ball out to the 41 but an incomplete pass on third and 12 forced Lovelady to punt. Lovelady held Tenaha in check and forced a punt from Tenaha. The Lions, unfortunately, couldn’t do anything with the ball, but missed a golden opportunity.
Jay Thomas Robinson boomed a 50-yard punt that was muffed by the Tenaha punt returner and recovered by the Lions at the Tigers’ 12.
Following a sack by the Tigers, Lovelady QB Logan Lowery was intercepted at the 13. Jenkins returned the favor, however, as the Tenaha QB was picked off by Robinson.
The Lions couldn’t generate any offense and turned the ball over on downs to the Tigers. Tenaha was finally able to generate a push on the offensive line, worked the ball into the red zone and eventually saw Jeremy Patton plow his way across the goal line for a TD.
Christian Castillo knocked home the extra point and with 4:10 left in second quarter, the Tigers led 7-0.
The Tigers didn’t have to wait very long before they were back in the end zone. Following the kickoff, the Lions went three and out but were helped out by a 63-yard punt from Robinson.
With the ball at their own 32, Tenaha ripped off 29 yards on a Lloyd run and followed with a 17 yard completion from Jenkins to Erik Smith. Two plays later, Lloyd found a crease in the Lions’ defense and worked his way inside for five yards and a score. Castillo was true with his kick and at the half, Tenaha led Lovelady 14-0.
The second half saw the Lions show a little more fire on the offensive side of things, but they simply crack the tough Tiger defense. Lovelady kept up the pressure as the Tigers began to wear down in the heat and humidity but in the end, Tenaha held on for a 14-2 win.
Following the game, Lovelady AD/Head Coach Jon Lowery commented on his team’s performance.
“There were times we went toe-to-toe with those guys. They were in a battle at the end of the game. They weren’t pushing to score points, they were looking to take the air out of the ball. Our kids were ready to go and their kids were gassed,” he said.
“They created a problem for us, offensively. They would line up with our receivers and mug them all the way down the field.
I think that rattled us a little bit, but the kids know that was a playoff atmosphere. Tenaha made it to the state finals last year for a reason,” Lowery said.
“Win, lose or draw, we wanted to use this game as a measuring stick. We wanted to see a good effort from the kids and I think we saw that tonight,” he said.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.