Antlers struggle against Killeen

Tivy's quarterback Jake Layton looks to score Friday night against Killeen Shoemaker at Antler Stadium.

Tivy saw a 14-0 lead evaporate quickly Friday night at Antler Stadium when a pair of Killeen Shoemaker offensive backs put their speed and athleticism in full gear en route to a 52-21 win over Tivy in non-district action.

The Grey Wolves’ Jamarius Stewart and Jerrod Hicks accounted for 243 ground yards and six touchdowns against the Antlers, while the Killeen defense used that same speed to interrupt the rhythm of the Tivy offense after falling behind early in the game.

Antler quarterback Jake Layton capped off a 74-yard drive with a 13-yard rushing touchdown on Tivy’s first possession of the game after only 2:09 minutes of play.

The Antler defense kept Killeen in check and forced a punt. Tivy scored again five plays later when Layton launched a 92-yard rocket into the hands of Jackson Johnston at the 6:00 mark.

Steven Grocki made good on both extra point kicks, giving Tivy a 14-0 lead, but it would be the Antler’s final offensive touchdown of the game.

After a 73-yard kickoff return by Hicks, the Grey Wolves made their way onto the scoreboard with an 7-yard run by Peydon Horace with 3:37 left in the first quarter. Hicks followed up with an 83-yard run of his own to score with :47 remaining, knotting the score 14-14.

Multiple Killeen running backs pounded the Tivy defensive line play-after-play, looking for a break in the coverage.

The Antlers held the Grey Wolves at bay for most of the second quarter, giving up only a field goal at the 6:49 mark when Antonio Bulter split the uprights from 30 yards out with an unconventional kick, giving Killeen the lead at 17-14.

However, Hicks was able to find the space he needed to break away from the pack at the 32-yard line and scamper in to score with 3:11 remaining in the half and just like that, the Grey Wolves were up 24-14.

With only 1:19 remaining in the first half, Killeen was eager and determined to score setting up multiple fast-play calls, however the Tivy defense held strong and was able to hold them off from the 15-yard line for seven plays, running down the clock to :02 when Killeen quarterback Donovan (Omari) Evans tossed up a short pass in the endzone. Tivy’s Adan Hernandez provided excellent coverage and was able to get his hands on the ball for a deflection. Unfortunately, the ball landed in the hands of intended receiver Stewart for a Grey Wolves touchdown. Butler was perfect on the night with extra point kicks and the Antlers headed to the locker room down 31-14.

Tivy fans hoped the tides were turning when Tivy’s Ethan Honeycutt picked off a Killeen pass at the Grey Wolves' 25 yardline and sprinted to the endzone with 10:42 remaining in the third quarter. With Grocki’s extra point kick, the Antlers seemed to be chipping away at Killeen’s lead, down 31-21.

“We’ve been working on that all week,” Honeycutt said. “We’ve been watching film and I saw it coming. I was ready.”

But Hicks and Stewart continued their speedy offensive, logging a touchdown each rushing from 32 and 29 yards out, respectively. Hicks scored with 9:06 showing on the third quarter clock and Stewart’s touchdown came with 3:53 remaining in the quarter.

The final score of the game game when hicks pushed his way into the endzone from the 2 yardline with 9:42 remaining in the game. With Butler’s extra point kick, the final score was in favor of the Grey Wolves at 52-21.

While he certainly would have preferred the win, Honeycutt said playing a bigger, faster team will only help prepare Tivy’s young defense for district play.

“After playing these guys and McCallum next week and then Calallen, it will help us finally come together as a defense,” Honeycutt said. “I feel like we are starting to gel.”

After the game, Coach David Jones said he was proud of the defense.

“They played hard and they are getting better every week,” Jones said. “We just have to get everything going together at the same time. We just have to keep plugging along. I feel bad for the kids. I feel bad for the community. We just have to get better and we will.”

Statistically, the Grey Wolves dominated, putting up 368 total yards versus Tivy’s 216.

On the night, Layton completed 7 of 17 passes for 189 yards.

Johnston had three receptions totaling 115 yards. Fisher Middleton hauled in two catches for 64 yards and Desnic Houston added 10 receiving yards on two receptions.

Logan Edmonds led the Antlers in ground yards, rushing for 30 yards on nine attempts. Middleton carried for 10 yards on one touch and Ryan Maberry finished with three yards on two carries.

The Antlers will host Austin McCallum Friday night at Antler Stadium. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

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