Horn unable to overcome miscues in 35-30 loss to John Tyler
Horn head coach Rodney Webb said earlier in the week that the main areas of focus for his team were special teams, penalties and turnovers.
It was the latter that was the Jaguars' downfall on Friday.
Horn turned the ball over three times compared with zero for Tyler John Tyler and that proved to play a major role in the Lions' 35-30 victory on the Jaguars' Homecoming night at E.H. Hanby Stadium.
The Jaguars dropped their second consecutive close game to fall to 2-2, while the Lions, ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press Class 4A state poll, improve to 3-1.
"There is no way you are going to beat anybody as good as John Tyler with a negative-three in the turnover game," Webb said. "We just didn't take care of the ball like we should have."
While two of the giveaways thwarted promising scoring drives, the one that stung most occurred at the end of the first half.
With Horn holding on to a 17-14 lead and 55 seconds left, the Jaguars elected to try to move the ball from their own 16-yard line. John Tyler was able to force a fumble and recover it at the 27-yard line with 11 seconds left.
On the very next play, Greg Ward found Fred Ross open across the middle for a touchdown with six seconds left to give the Lions a 21-17 lead and momentum going into the locker room.
"That was huge" Webb said. "If I could do it again I would have run out the clock and get to the half. We only had one more play to run and they weren't going to stop the clock, but we didn't and it was a seven-point swing, we lost by five, so you do the math. It was just a big turn."
While John Tyler was taking advantage of its opportunities to make defensive plays, Horn did not. The Jaguars did not have any takeaways, but it was not for a lack of chances, as several Lion passes bounced off the hands of Horn defenders, including two deflections that found their way to John Tyler receivers for big plays.
" I don't understand it. We work every day in practice on fire drills and our guys can catch, I see them do it every day, they just haven't done it in the games," Webb said. "We've been in position, but we have zero interceptions through four games and I can't explain why. It is bizarre."
Neither team was able to do much on offense in the third quarter but Horn got a spark at the start of the fourth behind backup running back Jay'lyn Lynch, who had five carries for 38 yards to move the team down the field.
On fourth down, the Jaguars gambled and it paid off when Destri White rolled left and then threw a screen back right to Jacob Meyer and he did the rest for a 9-yard touchdown to take a 24-21 lead with 6:52 left to play.
It took John Tyler only 18 seconds to respond. After a good kickoff return by DeQuante Wood, Ward, who missed much of the third quarter with an injury, threw a 38-yard scoring strike to Tyus Bowser to regain the advantage at 28-24.
After a quick Horn punt, the Lions went right back to work, moving 58 yards in eight plays and converting a third-and-19 when Ward scrambled free of pressure and all the way to the end zone on a 31-yard touchdown run that made it 35-24 with 2:01 left to play.
The Jaguars did not give up, as they closed to within 35-30 on a 6-yard touchdown pass from White to Del'Michael High with 27 seconds left, but were unable to recover the onside kick and John Tyler was able to run out the clock.
For the second consecutive week, Horn came up on the short end of the scoreboard despite outgaining its opponent. White was effective, completing 19-of-28 for 214 yards. Treyvon Marsh rushed for 93 yards on 22 carries, while Brian O'Bannon had eight catches for 90 yards.
John Tyler had allowed only 139 yards in a shutout win over Tyler Lee the previous week, and while the bottom line goal of a victory came up short, the offensive efficiency so far this season is a good sign for the future.
"We've been able to move the ball effectively against everybody we've played this year," Webb said. "Total yardage doesn't tell the whole story, but we've been moving the ball well, we just can't give it away, we've got to carry it all the way to the end zone. The only thing slowing us down offensively right now is ourselves."
John Tyler had struck first in the opening quarter on a 64-yard touchdown run by Ross but the Jaguars came right back when Marsh sliced through the middle of the defense on a 35-yard scoring run to tie the game at 7-7.
Horn was eying the lead late in the first quarter, moving to the Lion 21, but an interception derailed that drive.
The Jaguars would not squander their next chance, as White found High open over the middle for a 16-yard touchdown pass to give them a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
John Tyler put together a methodical drive, capped by a touchdown pass from Ward to Justice Liggins to once again tie the score, but Horn would regain the edge on a 20-yard field goal from Taylor Lewis with 3:01 left in the half.
The Jaguars seemed poised to take that 17-14 advantage into halftime, but Tyler Lee struck with the late turnover and cashed it into points and that proved to be huge at the end.
"I think we've learned where we are good and where we are not good at this point," Webb said. "The thing during non-district is to get better, that is what it is all about. We've lost two close games in a row, so we need to learn how to close those games out, but I think we have a lot better idea of what our identity is going forward."