LONGVIEW, Texas—In a game that had very little meaning, Texas High put together its best effort of the season on both sides of the football.
With sole possession of second place in District 16-5A and momentum heading into next week's playoffs as their only motivation, the Tigers overwhelmed Pine Tree, 56-13, Friday night at Pirate Stadium, giving them a five-game winning streak heading into next week's bi-district meeting with Highland Park.
The Tigers (7-3, 5-1) bolted to a 42-13 halftime lead, then throttled Pine Tree's potent offense in the second half. The Pirates came into the game averaging 383-plus yards of offense per outing, but managed just 188 against the Tigers.
Meanwhile, senior Riley Russell continued his stellar play with three more touchdown passes, giving him 17 in just more than five games. One of those went to Tevailance Hunt for 17 yards in the second half. All the other Tiger touchdowns came from underclassmen.
First-year head coach Gerry Stanford was pleased with his team's play.
"We thought it would be a tough, close game," he said. "Pine Tree showed us a lot of things they haven't done all year, but we made some adjustments and the kids really responded well. They played a complete game with focus and energy.
While the game was out of hand by halftime, the Tigers continued to play outstanding defense, allowing the Pirates (3-7, 3-3) just one first down in the second half. Besides the Hunt (7-80) catch, the only other touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Braylon Chatman with 3:03 left in the game. Vonderick Stanley's 38-yard punt return set up the score.
Sophomore Trakeci Cooper led the Tigers rushing game (39-241) with 77 yards on 13 carries. Russell gained 72 on 9 attempts sand Collius Zachery 60 on 7.
"We were able to get a lot of kids in the game tonight, and I was proud of the way they performed," Stanford said. "Trakeci really had a good game as did Collius."
Pine Tree had a chance to tie the Tigers for second place with a win. They will represent the district as the No. 2 seed in Division II.
Texas High's fast start coincided with sluggish play from the apparently-shocked Pirates, who lost a fumble on a kickoff, suffered an interception and a personal foul penalty on a fourth-down punt that allowed the Tigers to score on the last play of the half.
Meanwhile, Texas High's defense bottled up the Pirates, until a 48-yard run by Sylvandan Stewart made it 35-13 with 1:31 left in the half.
That's exactly the time Texas High needed to score, the penalty and a 10-yard catch by Hunt moving the ball to the PT 25. From there Russell found Kobe Webster near the sideline, and the sophomore wide receiver spun away from a defender and tight-roped the sideline as time expired.
Texas High's 28-point first quarter was its biggest of the season. A fourth-down failure by Pine Tree resulted in a 4-play, 54-yard drive with Russell nailing Kendall Reid for the final 47 with 8:32 on the clock. Thirteen seconds later Cooper blasted 17 yards over the left side after the fumble recovery on the kickoff to make it 14-0.
Jaylen Stewart's interception set up the next scoring drive, a 61-yarder with Chris Sutton skirting right end from the 4-yard line at the 5:29 mark. Stanley's 62-yard reception after a penalty was the big gainer in the march.
The Tigers also had a fourth-down conversion in their fourth scoring drive of the first quarter. That ended in Cooper's second rushing TD, a 12-yarder with 23.1 seconds remaining, making it 28-0.
An offsides penalty on the Tigers on a 10-yard sack play enabled PT to drive to Texas High's 38-yard line, and a Pirate punt died at the 3. Texas High was unable to move the ball and the 25-yard punt was almost blocked. Six plays later Keshon Williams scored from the one with 5:28 left in the half.
Texas High 28 14 7 7 — 56
Pine Tree 0 13 0 0 — 13
TH-Kendall Reid 47 pass from Riley Russell (Logan Snell kick), 8:32
TH-Trakeci Cooper 17 run (Snell kick), 8:19
TH-Chris Sutton 4 run (Snell kick), 5:29
TH-Cooper 12 run (Snell kick), 0:23.6
PT-Keshon Williams 1 run (kick failed), 5:28
TH-Collius Zachery 5 run (Snell kick), 2:29
PT-Sylvandan Stewart 48 run (Juan Gimenez kick), 1:31
TH-Kobe Webster 25 pass from Russell (Snell kick), 0:00
TH-Tevailance Hunt 17 pass from Russell (Snell kick), 4:52
TH-Braylon Chatman 1 run (Snell kick), 3:03
=Texas High=Pine Tree
Rushing—Texas High, Sutton 1-4, Russell 9-72, Cooper 13-77, Reid 3-17, Zachery 8-60, Chatman 6-11. Pine Tree, Seidel 2-(-11), Williams 2-9, Jayden Smith 12-44, Stewart 5-69, Da'von Coleman 2-0, Jaylen Johnson 6-16.
Passing—Texas High, Russell 13-26-1-189. Pine Tree, Seidel 6-18-1-62.
Receiving—Texas High, Vonderick Stanley 4-68, Hunt 7-80, Cooper 1-2, Webster 1-25, Chatman 1-14. Pine Tree, J.J. Sparkman 1-20, Williams 1-6, Trey Pruitt 2-7, Coleman 2-29.