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Lions go on the offensive to tame the Jaguars

Ennis offense catches fire to score nine touchdowns
There was a touchdown to be found at every turn on Friday night at Ennis’ Homecoming contest against the 5A Mesquite Horn Jaguars.
In fact, Ennis (3-0) and Horn (1-3) combined for 14 touchdowns with a couple of field goals thrown in for good measure. The Lions led 51-17 early in the third quarter on their way to the 65-38 victory. Coach Sam Harrell loved the 65, but wasn’t exactly thrilled with the 38.
“We were pleased with the offensive production,” Harrell said.
“Horn has an offense that’s going to complete some balls and score some points, but more than anything defensively I think we’re disappointed that we gave up some big plays for scores. At least if they drive it down and score you made them earn it.
“We told our guys at halftime [up 37-17] by no means was it over because Horn can score so many points. We didn’t just want to win the game; we wanted to play great in the second half.”
Just as it did against Belton, Ennis absolutely dominated on the ground. The Lions averaged 6.8 yards per carry compared to just 0.8 per tote for the Jags. Ennis has averaged at least 6.1 per carry in every game this season.
Quarterback D.J. Betik had his biggest game to date with 289 passing yards and four touchdowns, as well as two rushing scores. Receivers Deonte McDade (12-105-1) and Kyle Guinyard (8-86-3) each put a hurting on Horn, as did running back Tim Hearne (11-95-2). Guinyard also gained 30 yards on two carries to go with 113 yards on three kick returns.
Lions leading the way in regard to big defensive plays were Miguel Almanza (two sacks, tackle for loss), Rob Boyd (sack, tackle for loss) and Jason Vavra (interception). Other Lions to make plays behind the line of scrimmage included Justin Piper (sack), Thomas Carter (sack), Hearne (tackle for loss), Jason Minchew (tackle for loss) and Dillon Swearengin (tackle for loss).
“It’s tiring for those D-line guys against a team where you’re pass rushing 80 percent of the time, but Rob, Piper and Miguel did a good job of getting after them,” Harrell said.
“That’s why we run gasers every week, so they could get their hands on [Emory Miller].”
Horn was led by quarterback Emory Miller, who threw for 382 yards and four touchdowns. Receiver Tayler Gabriel kept his huge season rolling with 170 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while cornerback Anson Johnson intercepted Betik for the signal caller’s first turnover of the season.
Curtain opens on offensive showcase
Guinyard opened the game with a 49-yard kickoff return and Ennis never looked back. Betik hit Charles Cox down the sideline in tight coverage for a stellar leaping 27-yard grab, and then three plays later the quarterback rolled out to find Guinyard in the corner of the end zone for a 10-yard score (7-0, Colby Threet kick good).
“Kyle was just having his way out there like he usually does with either corner on him,” Betik said.
“We watched some good film on [Horn]; we knew what we had to do, came out here and executed. [Horn] didn’t change their defense and we kept on scoring. The offensive line blocked really well.”
Though Miller threw for a couple of first downs, sound tackles from Minchew and Chonston Williams helped force a punt. Johnson then jumped in front of Betik’s intended receiver on the third play of the next Ennis possession and returned the ball to the Lion 10. A Minchew tackle for loss and an overthrow of an open receiver in the end zone ended up costing the Jags, however, as they settled for a 20-yard field goal (7-3).
The Lions absolutely marched the ball down the field on the ensuing nine-play drive as they only encountered third down once. After finding Guinyard and McDade (twice), Betik hit a wide-open Jyavon King for a 35-yard gain. Two plays later, Betik coasted up the middle for a one-yard score (14-3, Threet kick good).
“D.J. had some times tonight where he went through his reads just like we worked on,” Harrell said.
“He got some different guys involved in the passing game and that’s part of the progress D.J. is making.”
When the Horn offense stepped back onto the field, Boyd sacked Miller and then Will Pollan made a sound tackle on third down to force a punt. It didn’t hurt that Threet had booted the kickoff into the end zone for a touchback, one of five times he did so on the night.
“There really wasn’t much wind tonight and it didn’t matter which way he was kicking it; Colby was kicking it deep,” Harrell said.
“We haven’t had somebody booting it like that since Brad Kadlubar. It sure helps when you score and the other team starts on the 20, so we’re really proud of Colby.”
Early in the second quarter, the Lions capped off a six-play drive as Hearne followed a 27-yard Guinyard reception with a three-yard touchdown run that saw him spin like a top up the middle (21-3, Threet kick good).
“I’ve been working really hard with [position] Coach [Bryan] Clark, but I owe the success I had to the O-line because they’re doing a good job,” Hearne said.
“I’ve got to go all-out around the goal line for my cousin [and former Lion Jarvis Woodson].”
Speaking of the O-line, center Zane Davis said it’s just business as usual for the Lions in the trenches.
“We just do what [position] Coach [Tony] Castillo tells us, which is mainly to move the front line and also pass protect,” Davis said.
“Bronson [Prachyl], [Micah] Kemp, Austin [Armstrong], Chase [Farmer] and Byron [Betik] – all those guys can get the job done. I think we’re doing a pretty good job of protecting D.J. so far.”
Miller overcame an Almanza sack on Horn’s next possession as he completed a 51-yard pass and later hit receiver Josey Nwankwo for an eight-yard touchdown (21-10, kick good). Guinyard returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield and it didn’t take the Lions long as Betik connected with Cox for 22 yards. Three plays later, Betik delivered the ball above the oncoming pass rush to Guinyard as he shook off a couple of defenders and bulled his way to the end zone for an impressive 22-yard touchdown (27-10, Guinyard conversion run failed).
“Coach gave me a lot of chances and I just tried to make big plays,” Guinyard said.
“When coach called the play, I was thinking I was going to score. I scanned the defense and knew I was going back outside when I caught it.
“We’re getting better in the passing game every week, but we still have room to improve. The run game is really helping us execute.”
Credit Horn for opening its next drive with a 41-yard completion and three plays later Ottis Nevels sped up the middle for a 14-yard touchdown run (27-17, kick good). In a wild and wooly 37-point quarter, Ennis was right back at it.
Eric Hill recovered an onside kick and the spectacular play on the possession saw McDade spin out of two tackles as he reversed field for a 34-yard catch-and-run. It wasn’t long before Betik found Guinyard over the top of the defender in the corner of the end zone for a 10-yard score (34-17, Threet kick good).
“Kyle is really special and I think after a year and a half of hearing it he’s finally believing us,” Harrell said.
“He’s gotten stronger and more confident.”
Horn was held to a three-and-out at the end of the half and a bad punt snap made for a 33-yard loss as Swearengin brought the punter down. Threet then booted a 24-yard field goal with two seconds left (37-17).
A familiar mistake arose early in the third quarter when the Ennis defense held for a three-and-out. The punter bobbled the snap and Hearne brought him down for a 13-yard loss. When the Ennis offense took the field, an eight-yard Guinyard run and a five-yard McDade keeper up the gut did the trick (44-17, Threet kick good).
Threet soon drilled yet another touchback, but Harrell liked what he saw on the few occasions the Jags did bring the ball out.
“We put a lot of emphasis on the kicking game in the bye week – especially our kickoff coverage,” the coach said.
“That unit did a great job of racing down and throwing their bodies around.”
In what proved to be the third-straight disastrous possession for Horn, Miller was pressured by Piper on third down and Vavra capitalized on an opportunity with a leaping interception.
“Jason had committed himself too low where the ball was going to go over his head, but he extended to make a good play on the ball,” Harrell said.
Betik immediately found McDade for a 15-yard gain and soon looked the receiver’s way again for a 12-yard score (51-17, Threet kick good).
Almanza tracked down Gabriel in the backfield after a reception on Horn’s next drive, but the Jags kept plugging away and Miller hit Gabriel for a 25-yard score as he broke a couple of tackles (51-24, kick good).
“I think we got a little too high in the third quarter and let up on [the Jags],” Betik said regarding when Ennis took a 34-point lead.
The Ennis offense went three-and-out twice over the remainder of the quarter while Horn struggled to overcome a Piper sack and a Boyd tackle for loss. Miller later locked in on receiver Matt Coleman during a drive that extended into the fourth quarter for three-straight completions as the receiver caught a nine-yard touchdown (51-31, kick good).
Ennis run game rolls down the stretch
Determined not to let Horn creep back into the contest, the Lion offense really pounded the ball in the final frame. Guinyard rumbled for 22 yards on an end-around and when the Lions reached the Horn 26 a trio of impressive Hearne runs up middle meant yet another six points (58-31, Threet kick good).
“When I saw Jyavon get hurt a little bit in the second quarter, I knew it was my time and I had to go execute,” Hearne said.
Regardless of the score, Gabriel was having a great night and the receiver saved his best for last with a 71-yard deep catch-and-run (58-38, kick good). After Swearengin recovered the onside kick, Hearne continued to shine with his combination of strength and quickness to gain 55 yards on five-straight carries. Ennis’ final offensive play saw Betik make an open-field move on a defender for a 15-yard touchdown run (65-38, Threet kick good).
“I thought Tim did a great job for us and he knew he was going to come in during the [game’s] second series; then we’d take it from there,” Harrell said.
“He’s really strong for his size and drives his legs; I’m really happy for him.”
The final seconds brought a couple of sacks by Almanza and Carter to finish the contest on a high note.
“Guys like Piper and [Kelvin Pace] were getting in the backfield with their quickness and Rob was coming through with his power to bull rush [O-linemen],” Almanza said.
“We work a lot on the pass rush with Coach [Gary] Jessie. I hurt my knee against Belton and I was still a little hurt against Lancaster, but I was feeling good tonight to throw my body around and go all-out. We can definitely get a lot better defensively than we are right now.”
Ennis will now begin district play as it hosts Waco High on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“Jyavon and Minchew are a little banged up, but we’ve just got to deal with it as we prepare for next week,” Harrell said.
“Waco is still probably the favorite in the district and very athletic, so we have to get ready to play.”

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Posted by on Sep 22 2008. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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