Titans learn lessons in loss

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Back-and-forth game is final tune-up for postseason

By Josh Cook

The Bryan Station football team outlasted and outscored visiting Collins on Friday night.

A quarterback sneak by Ora Johnson, who had a gargantuan game, gave the Defenders a 55-52 overtime victory. However, Titans Coach Jerry Lucas is hoping that his team’s loss, in its regular-season finale, will help it in the long run.

“It was a great game,” said Lucas, whose team rallied for a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take the lead briefly before Bryan Station battled back to force OT. “I hate that we lost, but I think the kids learned from it, and I think it got us ready for the playoffs.”

Collins (7-3) will host Fairdale (3-7) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.

In preparation for the postseason the Titans, who had rolled through District 3 undefeated and had outscored its opponents, 173-65 (43.3 ppg to 16.3), warmed up against the 6A Defenders (6-4).

And the result, one more worthy of the Big 12 Conference, was that the two teams combined to light up the scoreboard and fill up the stat sheet.

In addition to the 107 points, the two teams combined for 1,044 yards of total offense.

Led by Johnson, Bryan Station racked up 705 yards of offense. The junior completed 31 of 44 passes for 515 yards and five touchdowns (with one interception) and rushed 22 times for 107 yards and two more TDs.

“Defensively we had some breakdowns, and we were a little passive,” Lucas said. “We can’t keep playing passive on defense. But on the good side I think we can fix those problems in fifteen minutes.”

It took the Defenders less than two minutes to score the first touchdown of the game, when Johnson capped a 5-play, 68-yard drive with a 1-yard dive.

The Titans responded with a 10-play, 64-yard drive that set the tone for a first half that featured six lead changes. Lawson Page’s 13-yard touchdown pass to senior running back Logan Bailey capped Collins’ march. Blanton Creque’s PAT put the Titans on top, 7-6.

Anthony Lopez answered with a 24-yard field goal for the Defenders before junior Elijah Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to set up Dre Farris’ 1-yard TD run with 13 seconds to play in the first quarter.

Johnson’s 58-yard touchdown pass to Tamarick Hipps started the second quarter scoring, giving the lead (16-14) back to Bryan Station, and Page’s 34-yard TD toss to Farris put the Titans on top,  21-16.

The Defenders responded with a 13-play, 80-yard scoring march that Johnson concluded with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Shamonta Harrington that gave Bryan Station a 23-21 halftime lead.

That was just a prelude to the second half, though.

Collins took the lead back on Page’s 1-yard sneak early in the third quarter before the Defenders took control, scoring three consecutive touchdowns.

The first came on Johnson’s 10-yard pass to Hipps, the second on a 27-yard run by senior running back Curtis Sellers and the third on Johnson’s 28-yard pass to Marcus Floyd.

Down, 42-28, at the start of the fourth quarter the Titans turned to their power running game to rally. Page’s 2-yard TD run made it 42-35 before his 1-yard touchdown tied the score with 6:49 to play.

Junior linebacker Landon Forrest picked off a pass by Johnson, and nine plays later Farris’ 3-yard touchdown run put Collins back on top, 49-42, with 1:37 to play.

It proved to be more than enough time for the Defenders, though. Johnson’s 55-yard touchdown pass to Floyd with 33 seconds ultimately forced OT.

“He [Johnson] just threw it up with two of our kids, two of our best kids, back there,” Lucas said. “He [Floyd] just tipped it up, caught it and scored.”

Collins got the ball to start the extra session and settled for Creque’s 22-yard field goal after gaining just 5 yards on three rushes.

Johnson’s 1-yard TD run, on third down, ended the game.

Page finished the game 12-for-28 for 177 yards with two touchdowns and rushed 15 times for 53 yards and three more scores.

“We struggled some throwing the football, but they were doing some crazy things defensively [in coverage],” Lucas said. “Still I was very pleased offensively. We did a good job. You’re not going to score every time you get the ball.”

Farris finished with 17 rushes for 60 yards and two TDs as well as five catches for 74 yards and one touchdown.

Junior linebacker Masai Whyte, who sat out the previous two games with an ankle injury, led the Titans’ defense with 17 tackles. Junior Zach “Buck” Wilson added 12 tackles, including three quarterback sacks, while Forrest finished with 10 tackles, including one sack, to go along with his interception.