Warded off: Titans lose in regional final, 38-24
BY Matthew Costa, Staff Writer
ENNIS -- After going further than any team had ever done in school history, the 2012 Frisco Centennial Titans’ (12-2) season ended Friday night against the Tyler John Tyler Lions (13-1), 38-24 in the 4A Division I Region II final.
“It’s been a team effort all the way around,” said Mark Howard, Centennial head coach. “Our seniors had some goals going into this season, and one of them was to go further than any Titan team had gone before, and they did that.”
Down 21-17 midway through the third quarter, senior quarterback Lamar Jordan and the Centennial offense were marching towards the Lions’ red zone, but in a microcosm of how Centennial’s second half would play out, a John Tyler defender intercepted Jordan’s pass.
Lions quarterback Greg Ward did not make the same mistake, using three plays to extend his team’s lead into double-digits at 28-17. Ward later scored the clinching touchdown with a 40-yard gallop, eluding several Titan defenders along the way.
Ward was a threat to score on nearly every play Friday night, completing 25-of-33 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns, along with 81 yards rushing to go with his previous touchdown.
“He makes that offense go,” Howard said. “If you don’t get enough pressure, he’s going to take off and hurt you. He did that tonight.”
Even as the Titans found themselves down by 11 nearing the end of the third quarter, Jordan continued to fight for his team, finding receiver Jacob Atchley in the back of the end zone to cut the deficit back down to four at 28-24.
Jordan fought for the remainder of the game but couldn’t overcome three interceptions in the second half. He did complete 16-of-39 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough for Centennial, losing 38-24.
“Offensively, we were our own worst enemies,” Howard said. “If we didn’t make those mistakes, I think it would’ve been a better ball game.”
After punting on their first drive, the Titans found themselves down early after John Tyler struck first. Lions quarterback Greg Ward found Darion Flowers in the middle of the end zone after Ward had shed the tackling attempts of several Titan defenders.
Centennial was unable to respond on its following possession, but used a key special teams play to prevent any further damage from the Lions. After John Tyler had once again driven into opposing territory, the Titans blocked a field goal attempt to give their offense another chance to tie.
The Titans strung together an 8-play drive with two key third-down conversions including the equalizing 3-yard run from Kamari Burnett. The junior back fought through several Lion defenders on his way to Centennial’s first score of the game.
John Tyler quickly answered with a 75-yard drive capped off by a 14-yard run by Reggie Gipson to give the Lions their second lead at 14-7.
Matters seemed to worsen for the Titans after Jordan was unable to handle a handoff on the next drive’s second play, giving the Lions another opportunity.
Fortunately for Centennial, John Tyler’s drive came to a halt near midfield and the Titans made them pay eight plays later. Leaving just 49 seconds to go in the first half, Jordan found receiver DJ Jackson along the sideline of the end zone and tied the score again, 14-14.
Coming out of the half, John Tyler was again stopped by the Centennial defense after Ward threw an interception to defensive back Josh Garrett. Although the Titans were unable to score a touchdown, they did take their first lead of the game with a 42-yard field goal by senior kicker Austin Shoemake, 17-14.
Another quick response by John Tyler seemed inevitable after Ward found Ross twice in two plays, before throwing him a bomb of 46 yards, putting the Lions up for good, 21-17.
Even though the Titans' season ended, Howard said he can still reflect on the great progress his squad had.
“My hat goes off to all those that helped make it what it was,” he said. It was a real special year.”