Waco Connally running back Jay’Veon Sunday rushed for more than 300 yards against the Glen Rose Tigers last Friday night, but for Tiger fans, he may be remembered more for the three yards he didn’t get. Glen Rose middle linebacker Ricky Douglas knifed through the line on a fourth-and-3 play and initiated contact with Sunday behind the line of scrimmage and a host of Tigers soon followed to bring down the shifty back for a loss to preserve the Tigers’ 42-36 homecoming victory.
“The fourth-down stop was huge,” said GRHS head coach Cliff Watkins, whose squad produced 502 yards in total offense. “We got a great push from our defensive line and had guys that found a way to make a play.” The Connally offense scorched the Glen Rose defense for 29 second-half points to tie the score with eight minutes left Friday night, but when the Tigers needed a defensive stop, they got it. Douglas, who played defensive line in the season-opener against Grandview, moved back to middle linebacker in Week 2 and produced a team-high 17 tackles, and none was bigger than his fourth-down stop. Braylen Meador and Bryan Pounds recorded 12 stops each. Keegan Bunt added 11 tackles and two sacks, and Jess Niedziela and Grant McGarity added nine tackles each. The Tigers will be back in action Friday night when they travel to Springtown for a 7 p.m. meeting with the Porcupines. Like the Tigers, the Porcupines enter the game at 2-0 after posting a 38-6 victory over Arlington Heights in the season opener and then blanking Sanger 61-0 last week.
“Springtown has a really good football team,” Watkins said. “They do a good job in all three phases of the game. We are going to face another good running back this week. We have to be better tacklers this week, and we have to take care of the ball on offense.” Springtown is averaging 375 yards per game in total offense behind quarterback Sawyer Drewry. He has thrown for 316 yards and seven touchdowns, and running back Cameron Rickett is averaging 120.5 yards rushing with four TDs. Against Connally, Glen Rose quarterback Cameron Griffin staked the Tigers to a 29-7 lead at the half with four first-half scoring passes to three different receivers. He hit Westen Halcom for an 18-yard score in the first quarter and then added TD passes to Davis Shackelford (48), Colin Dunson (26) and Halcom (43) in the second stanza to give the Tigers the big lead.
The touchdown to Halcom came with just 33 seconds left in the half, and it proved to be a critical score for the Tigers. Glen Rose took the ball with 1:49 left in the half. On the drive, the Tigers also converted a big third-and-7 when Griffin hit Niedziela with a 10-yard completion for the first down.
“The score right before the half ended up being a huge possession in the game,” Watkins said. “We talk to our guys all the time about you never know which play can change the game and that ended up being a big one.” In the second half, however, it was almost all Connally. The Cadets outscored the Tigers 29-7 at one point in the second half, and eventually tied the score at 36-all with just over eight minutes left in the game on a 66-yard run by Sunday.
“They didn’t do anything different on either side in the second half. We missed some tackles in the second half that we needed to make, but also their running back is pretty special,” Watkins said. “Offensively, we made a few mistakes, and they made some plays. We have to be able to finish drives when we are in the red zone.” Griffin, who had a 17-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, answered Sunday’s TD with a 1-yard scoring run with 6:33 left in the game to give the Tigers the six-point advantage. The Cadets drove the ball to the Glen Rose 30 before the heroics of Douglas and the Tiger defense thwarted the drive.
“We were very proud of our guys for how they finished the game,” Watkins said. “Connally came all the way back and tied it up and had all of the momentum. We get the ball back and go right down and score and that was a huge answer by the offense.”
Griffin completed 13 of 20 passes for 274 yards and four scores, while Halcom rushed for 160 yards on 23 carries. Griffin also rushed for 68 yards on 14 carries, and Halcom recorded an additional 111 yards on six pass receptions. Shackelford also had 100 yards receiving on just three catches.