Joaquin's season ends with first-round loss to Centerville
TYLER – For the second year in a row, the Joaquin Rams saw their promising football season come to an end far earlier than they had planned as a well-coached Centerville Tiger team downed the Rams 20-10 Nov. 17 at Mewbourne Field on the campus of Tyler All Saints Episcopal School.
It was a physical, hard-fought defensive struggle between two teams that were nearly a mirror image of one another.
“They do what we do, but at least tonight, they did it just a little bit better,” said Rams head coach Wade Lawson. “We had our opportunities, but give them some credit. Their defense got them the stops when it counted.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team, especially these seniors, for the way they’ve fought through adversity this year. We’re going to get over this hump. We’re getting closer all the time.”
The missed opportunities were five trips inside the Tiger 25-yard line that saw the Rams net a just three points.
It was the first game this season where the Rams' offense was kept out of the end zone. The Rams had scored at least three offensive touchdowns in every game this year.
The Tiger defense used a “bend but don’t break” philosophy, forcing the Rams to make long drives instead of employing the explosive plays that have come to be their bread and butter.
When the Rams did get into scoring position, the Tiger defense would come up with a big play, creating a stop for a loss, which put the Rams behind the chains.
One drive was killed by a holding penalty. The only Ram touchdown came on 72-yard punt return by Tray Wilkerson in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7.
The backbreaker was a fumbled snap at the Centerville 19-yard line with 2:39 left in the third period and the Rams driving for what would have been a go-ahead touchdown. At the time, the Rams trailed 14-10.
The Tigers sealed the game with a masterful drive, moving 80 yards in 16 plays, while draining 9:37 off the game clock. The Tigers managed the clock well, and were very patient. The longest play of the drive was the ten yard touchdown run by Daniel Byrd. The Rams drove back down the field, but Tray Wilkerson’s final pass was intercepted at the three-yard line, allowing the Tigers to go to “victory formation” to run out the clock.
Not surprisingly, offensive yardage was at a premium in a relatively low scoring game. The Rams were held to a season-low 194 yards of offense.
Senior running back Kase Yates led the way, gaining 94 yards on nine attempts. Sophomore Connor Bragg, in his first game back since a knee injury in Week 7, added 52 yards on 10 carries. Yates also led the defense with 10 tackles, including one for a loss. Senior nosetackle Zach Bell contributed seven stops, and Bragg made nine from his safety spot.
Bell, Yates and Wilkerson are four-year starters from a senior class that went 25-17 in their four high school years. Tight ends Keith Johnson, Brock Hughes, and Matthew Silvey, tackle Josh Hamilton, and offensive/ defensive linemen Titus Harvey and Lane Bates all made contributions to the development of Ram football.
The Rams finish the season at 8-3, while the Tigers, also at 8-3 now, move on to the area round of the playoffs, where they will take on the Big Sandy Wildcats (10-1).
District 11 champion San Augustine beat Deweyville 55-6 and will face Wolfe City. No. 3 Alto lost to Lovelady, 22-20; and No. 4 Price-Carlisle beat Groveton 49-22 and will face Kerens.
Here is a link to the UIL 2A-Div. II playoff bracket:
Last week’s playoff games
• San Augustine 55, Deweyville 6
• Centerville 20, joaquin 10
• Lovelady 22, Alto 20
• Carlisle 49, Groveton 22
This week's playoff games
• San Augustine vs. Wolfe City
• Price-Carlisle vs. Kerens
2017 Joaquin Rams
Sept. 1 L @ Tenaha 23-22
Sept. 8 W vs. Maud 58-7
Sept. 15 W vs. Lovelady 43-22
Sept. 22 W @ Huntington 47-0
Sept. 29 W vs. Hawkins 56-0**
Oct. 6 BYE
Oct. 13 W @ Alto* 35-21.
Oct. 20 W @ Shelbyville* 31-0
Oct. 27 W vs. Carlisle* 26-23
Nov. 3 L @ San Augustine* 33-20
Nov. 10 W vs. Cushing* 55-6
Nov. 17 L vs. Centerville*** 20-10
*** Playoff game
C: Brandon Madison 6-yard run. PAT Good. 7-0 6:47
J: Tray Wilkerson 63-yard punt return. PAT good. 7-7 1:28
J: Jesus Bravo 20-yard Field Goal. 10-7 7:43
C: Daniel Bryd 4-yard run. PAT good. 14-10 5:39
C: Daniel Bryd 10-yard run. PAT no good. 20-10 5:52
FINAL 2A-Div. I District 11 standings
San Augustine 5-0, 10-0
Joaquin 4-1, 8-2
Alto 3-2, 4-6
Carlisle 2-3, 7-3
Shelbyville 1-4, 2-8
Cushing 0-5, 4-6