Tigers tighten grip on axe

Defense stonewalls Razorbacks in a 28-7 victory

Senior Tracy Cooper outruns the Arkansas Razorback defense to score a touchdown in the second quarter of the 2019 Texas High vs. Arkansas High game. The Tigers held the Razorbacks to only seven points in the game.

In the 105th Battle of the Axe, the Texas Tigers stifled the Arkansas Razorbacks with a commanding  28-7 victory. 

Much of the Tigers’ success can be attributed to the strength of the offensive line in the first quarter. Running back Tracy Cooper helped Texas High remain in a strong lead from the beginning. Three minutes into the first quarter Cooper scored the first touchdown of the game after a handoff from quarterback Rian Cellers, making the score 7-0. 

After the initial touchdown, the first quarter was a series of back and forths between Arkansas and Texas, a defensive battle between teams full of flags, missed passes and out of bounds kicks. The quarter stayed mostly stagnant, with the exception of a few almost successful offensive drives by Arkansas, until a Tiger touchdown by Clayton Smith with a minute left and a good PAT added up to 14-0.

Following the first five drives of the second quarter, and many unsuccessful drives in the first quarter, the Arkansas offense found the end zone with one run, however the 10 minutes left in the second allowed much time for things to reverse their fortune. The quarter’s main action ended three minutes in after Cooper scored the third Tiger touchdown.

The rest of the second quarter was a trade off of ball possession consisting of interceptions on both sides. The Tigers’ defense proved efficient in keeping the Razorbacks from the end zone, only allowing them two first downs in the second quarter and giving the Tigers good field positions. 

Neither team mounted a successful drive in the third quarter, however an interception by defensive back Lajontae Wrightner gave the Tigers the momentum they needed for an extra push in the fourth quarter. 

The game climaxed with one final Tiger touchdown by Cooper halfway into the fourth quarter. The game ended 28-7. Texas High was plagued by penalties and flags for a multitude of causes, including personal fouls, blocks in the back and a touchdown by Cooper called back because a hold on the back side of the play. 

Texas High’s win is mostly attributed to their quick start in the beginning and the effectiveness of the defensive line in keeping the Razorbacks away from the endzone. The first two touchdowns made in the first quarter made it difficult for Arkansas to catch up. 

“The game got away from us because they controlled the tempo the entire night. We needed to control the tempo and we need to play from ahead,” said Barry Norton, Arkansas athletic director and head football coach. “When [the score] was 21-7 we needed to get it back to a one score ball game. When they extended [the score] to 27, it was pretty much over for Arkansas. We aren’t mature enough as an offense to play chase or play catch up and they put us in that situation, so good job to them.”

According to the Tigers, many of their penalties and flags were sloppy mistakes they plan to improve upon before the upcoming game against cross town rival Liberty-Eylau.

“There’s always a lot we can improve on, but tonight my guys did it. We did it. [We could’ve] improved on execution, staying focused, discipline,” Smith said. “There’s always something to improve on, but for the most part, we did good on those subjects. Execution of plays [could be improved], like on defense, getting the strength right off all the time, stuff like that.”

Tiger athletic director and head football coach Gerry Stanford plans to fix these mistakes before allowing them to impact next Friday. 

“I thought most of our effort was great. Defensively, we played outstanding, I thought  our run game up front with our offensive line and our backs just was phenomenal. And I think those are things we got to continue to build upon,” Stanford said. “We’ve got to work on our passing game a lot more. It’s got to really be polished up a lot more than what it was. And we’ve got to cut out some penalties.”

This win for the Tigers has raised morale for next week’s game,as opposed to the 21-7 loss against the Pflugerville Hendrickson Hawks last week. 

“This [win] will give us a little hype, a little something going into next week,” Cellers said. “We have another game against a cross-town rival next week. Hopefully it will push us to go to playoffs this year.”