Nac so fast

Nacogdoches Dragons fall short against Tigers


Caden Rainwater

Daquarrieon Witcher powers through an attempted tackle by the opposing team. The Tigers cut it close with a four-point win, the final score being 21-17.

Story by Caden Rainwater, sports editor

A wake-up call is a beautiful thing for a team, and that became very evident as the Tigers took the Nacogdoches High School football field Friday night. The Tigers came into the game on an eight-game win streak and underestimated a team fighting for their spot in the playoffs. Despite facing the strongest defense the Tigers have played so far, three separate touchdowns were just enough to secure a four-point win with the Tigers on top at 21-17.

Opening the game, the Tigers played slow with little energy, and the Dragons made up the deficit, excited to fight. Not being able to make anything of the first few drives, punting became a common occurrence. Another decision made by Head Coach Gerry Stanford was to not place junior running back Braylon Stewart on the starting list due to a concussion from the game against Pine Tree. 

Taking the Tigers by surprise, the Dragons were able to bring about the first down following a fake punt. During this showdown of defenses, neither team found the endzone until the second quarter, marking the end of the first at an unfortunate 0-0.

Opening the second quarter, the Dragons could not turn their fake punt into a successful drive, giving the Tigers a chance for their offense to show their ability that’s been prevalent in past games. Junior quarterback Brayson McHenry made a set of short passes and quick runs that took the team to the red zone, but a dream on the fourth down was shattered by the explosive Dragon defensive line, and sophomore Donnie Grissom was brought down before making it to the line of scrimmage.

A miraculous six plays later, the Dragons had made up 81 yards, and blown coverage by the Tiger defense allowed the Dragons to be the first on the scoreboard at 7-0. A punt on both sides followed the only score of the game, until McHenry led the team downfield by passes to receivers, Blake Rogers, Zane Dodson and Caden Miller, closing the drive with a six-yard run with 40 seconds left in the half, leading into a tie for halftime at 7-7.

The crowd expected the Tigers to make a statement in the second half, and that’s what they decided to do with a set of missed passes and a sack when Derrick Brown forced a punt. However, the punt set the ball deep in Dragon territory. An interception off of a pass by McHenry made for a quick six points for the Dragons. 

Finding his redemption, McHenry yet again set up passes to his receivers Tre Roberts and Rian Cellers until using Clayton Smith’s height to embarrass the Dragon cornerback with an easy one-handed catch, tying the game again at 14-14. The third quarter being the most scoring quarter of the game, ended with a 30-yard field goal for the Dragons, sending the Tigers into the first fourth quarter of the season with them trailing, at 17-14.

The Tigers came into the fourth quarter understanding that a score was more necessary than ever before this season, and Cellers became the man to take them that way with a 46-yard reception setting up an 11-yard fake jet sweep rushing touchdown giving the Tigers their first lead of the game at 21-17. Scoring on four plays, making up 69 yards, and then returning with an interception by Caleb Arnold, was all the Tigers needed to disassemble the Dragon spirit until the clock ran out with the Tigers on top 21-17.

With Friday night serving as the ultimate wake-up call, the Tigers will now prepare to face off against the Whitehouse Wildcats, a team ranked above the surprising Nacogdoches Dragons. The game will be the last regular-season game for the Tigers taking place at 7:30p.m. at Tiger Stadium at Grim Park.