SAN ANTONIO - Tivy jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, but struggled to hold off Class 6A San Antonio East Central, who rallied to a heartbreaking 31-28 win over the Antlers Friday night at Hornet Stadium in non-district action.
Tivy scored on its first possession, marching 64 yards in only five plays with the help of a big 31-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Jake Layton to fellow sophomore Jackson Johnston. Fisher Middleton’s 2-yard scoring plunge and a Zachary Donaldson PAT kick gave the Antlers a 7-0 lead.
Layton carried 61 yards on a keeper a little over seven minutes later, landing in the end zone at the 3:09 mark. Donaldson made good on the extra point attempt and it looked like smooth sailing for the Antlers.
East Central, however, had other plans and mounted a comeback just before halftime. With 1:18 left in the second quarter, Hornet quarterback Caden Bosanko connected with his 6-foot, 5-inch receiver Anston Bryant-Kelley in the end zone from 14 yards out. Noah Chavez nailed the point-after attempt to cut the Hornets’ deficit to 14-7.
East Central capitalized on a Tivy miscue by nailing a 40-yard field goal as the quarter ended to cap the half with the Antlers holding a slight 14-10 lead.
It took East Central only 36 seconds to score after returning from the halftime break when Bosanko once again teamed up with Bryant-Kelley on a 28-yard touchdown pass. Chavez’s extra point kick was good, bringing the score to 17-14 in favor of the Hornets.
Tivy struggled on its next possession and East Central threatened to score again until it was denied by Antler Jack Patterson, compliments of a third-down long-ball deflection.
Tivy took possession at midfield following the punt and rushed to get back on the board. A 44-yard pass to Johnston landed the Antlers on the Hornet 12-yard line, and Middleton carried the ball across the goal line at the 6:35 mark, allowing the Antlers to regain the lead at 21-17 with Donaldson’s extra point kick.
Tivy’s defense held off a determined East Central team for most of the third quarter, but with 44 seconds remaining the Hornets pushed ahead with a 6-yard TD pass from Bosanko to Bryant-Kelley. Chavez’s extra-point kick brought put the Hornets back on top, 24-21.
East Central scored again with 8:35 left in the game on a 25-yard pass from Bosanko to Jack Stewart. Chavez kicked the extra point.
Middleton broke free for a 28-yard carry and Layton connected with Dalton Hanus for 30 yards, setting up another Middleton touchdown run with 6:13 to play. Donaldson once again split the uprights, bringing Tivy within striking distance at 31-28, but East Central put together one final drive to run out the clock.
Layton completed 15 of 21 passes for 237 yards and led the Antlers in rushing with 84 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries. Middleton earned 60 hard-fought yards on 17 touches with three touchdowns.
“I watched film all week and I knew it was going to be difficult to get yards against them,” Middleton said. “I came into the game knowing I was going to have to balance it out and keep my head on a swivel.”
Middleton, a junior, said Tivy coach David Jones encouraged their young team to unite and find their path together as one unit.
“We lost both of our quarterbacks last year. When Jake (Layton) was coming up, I told him to be ready,” Middleton said. “He works hard in practice and we are getting on a roll now. I’ve never seen a guy that works as hard as he does.”
While Jones was pleased with the effort, he was disappointed with the outcome.
“We had a chance to win and didn’t take advantage of the opportunity,” Jones said. “It’s just frustrating. We didn’t take advantage our opportunities to win. The kids fought hard, but we still have to improve.”
Johnston finished with 122 yards receiving on five catches. Hanus had four grabs for 53 yards, Jack Frazier had a 27-yard reception, and Fisher Roberts, Middleton and Desnic Houston logged receiving yards of 14, 11 and 10 yards, respectively.
Bosanko completed 19 of 31 passes for 248 yards and four touchdowns, and East Central’s offense totaled 336 yards on the night.
The Antlers, 0-4 on the season, will begin District 15-5A Division II action Friday when they take on Lockhart at Antler Stadium for their annual Homecoming game.