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GC Football: Tigers lose another heartbreaker

Oct. 8—Two plays.

Count 'em .

Two plays in the last two games for the Tigers could have turned their season around — two plays late in the fourth quarter that flipped the scoreboard upside down and twisted the Tigers inside out — two plays that handed Corsicana's Tigers a pair of bitter losses.

Two week's ago Arlington Seguin scored on a 45-yard pass late in the fourth quarter (on a fourth and 12 play no less) that flipped a 10-9 deficit into a 15-10 victory with 4:33 left in the game.

Then Friday night on Homecoming at Community National Bank & Trust Stadium, Burleson's Elks scored on an 18-yard pass play with 2:07 left in the game to turn a 28-27 deficit into a 35-28 victory.

Sure, the Tigers had a ton of opportunities to score a couple of more touchdowns, and of course, one play didn't win or lose the game.

But losing on a big play late in the fourth is heartbreaking and losing twice in two games is even worse, especially for a team like the Tigers — a team that has been over-achieving and playing above its head the past two games.

That's right. No one in Texas picked the Tigers to finish higher than sixth in this district and they walked into both the Seguin and Burleson games as big underdogs.

Burleson was everyone's — including Texas Football's — choice to make the playoffs. The Elks (0-5) hadn't won a game and were 0-2 in the district race after losing back-to-back to the two top teams in District 5 5A DII (state-ranked Midlothian Heritage and preseason No. 5 Mansfield Summit) in their first two district games. They also lost to Frisco Lone Star, the preseason No. 5 Class 5A DI team in Texas.

Seguin? That's a team loaded with speed and a couple of Division I prospects. 'Nuff said. The Cougars barely lost to Heritage

The Elks were a big favorite even on the road. But the Tigers battled all night in both losses, and led late before a big passing play beat them in both games.

The Elks are coached by Jon Kitna, the former NFL and Dallas Cowboys quarterback, and his son JT Kitna threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns, including the game winner. That's not an excuse, just pointing out some of what the Tigers were up against Friday (not to mention a bigger and faster defense). Jabari Smith ran behind a big, physical line that allowed Smith plenty of space, and he took advantage and rushed for 197 yards on a workhorse 27 carries and scored two touchdowns — a 5-yarder in the first quarter and a 13-yarder with 3:07 left in the third that gave the flip-flopping lead back to Burleson at 27-21 after the Elks converted a two-point conversion.

The Tigers swapped leads with Burleson all night, never giving in and finding ways to score — and came up with a monster goal line stand with 9:16 left in the game.

The Elks, who had a 27-21 lead and a first-and-goal from the Tiger 2-yard line, couldn't get in the end zone as Kitna threw an incompletion on first down and Smith was stuffed for no gain on second down. Kitna faced a big pass rush and hurried an incompletion on third down and finally, the Elks went for it on fourth down but Corsicana's Jace Richardson stopped Kitna for no gain.

Dontay Thomas, an incredibly talented and versatile player who gives a new meaning to the term two-way starter, got the Tigers out of the shadow of the goal post, breaking free up the middle for a 58-yard run to the Burleson 40.

Thomas finished the night with 89 yards on nine carries, five receptions for 23 yards and an interception on defense to go along with several tackles.

The Tigers moved the ball to the 36 but Burleson ended the threat with an interception and hung onto their six-point lead.

The Tigers snatched the lead back with 4:18 left in the game when Jet Jones, a two-way starter who ignited the offense early in the season, intercepted a Kitna pass and returned it for a touchdown. Jose Morales kicked his fourth PAT to give the Tigers a 28-21 lead.

New Tiger coach Aric Sardinea just gets better and better, and he had a bye week (all the teams in the district were off last week) to prepare for Burleson. It showed. The Elks tried four onside kicks and the Tigers, who were ready for them, recovered all four.

Sardinea also had his defense, which has made some big improvements of late, positioned right most of the night. It paid off with a fumble recovery, two interceptions and three sacks, not to mention the clutch goal-line stand. That's how you knock off a bigger and faster team. The Tigers didn't beat the Elks, but they scared them all night.

Tiger quarterback Adrian Baston, who has led the team all year, kept the pressure on the Elks all night, scoring three touchdowns, bringing the Tigers back to knot things up at 7-7 and giving the Tigers the lead twice (14-13 and 21-19.

Baston, who ran for 82 yards and completed 9-of-15 passes for 55 yards, scored on a 1-yard run with 11:35 left in the half to help knot the score at 7-7, completing a 25-yard drive to that started when LJ Williams intercepted Kitna with two seconds left in the first quarter.

The Elks led 13-7 after a missed extra point when Baston scored his second touchdown, a 6-yard run that completed a 50-yard drive that started after the Tigers grabbed an onside kick. Morales botted his second PAT to lift Corsicana to a 14-13 lead 4:26 left in the half. Kina's 32-yard TD pass gave the Elks a 19-14 lead, but his two-point pass was incomplete and the teams went to halftime at 19-14.

Baston opened the second half by lifting the Tigers again, this time with a 3-yard TD run that completed another short drive — 58 yards in nine plays. Baston saved the drive with a six-yard scramble on a fourth-and-four play from the Elks' 19. Morales kicked his third PAT with 8:06 left in the third to give the Tigers a 21-19 lead.

Smith's 13-yard TD run and a two-point conversion ran gave the Elks a 27-21 lead after three before Jones had his big interception and run down the sideline for Corsicana's final "I hit you last" moment and a 28-27 lead.

Then came the play — The Play — the one that broke Corsicana's heart.

stand with 9:16 left. The Elks, who had a 27-21 lead and a first-and-goal from the Tiger 2-yard line, couldn't get in the end zone as Kitna threw an incompletion on first down and Smith was stuffed for no gain on second down. Kitna faced a big pass rush and hurried an incompletion on third down and finally, the Elks went for it on fourth down but Corsicana's Jace Richardson stopped Kitna for no gain.

Dontay Thomas, an incredibly talented and versatile player who gives a new meaning to the term two-way starter, got the Tigers out of the shadow of the goal post, breaking free up the middle for a 58-yard run to the Burleson 40.

The Tigers moved the ball to the 36 but Burleson ended the threat with an interception and took the six-point lead into the fourth.