“We won the game we needed to win tonight and it took all of us to do it,” Tivy coach David Jones told his players after the Antlers notched their first win of the season Friday night at Antler Stadium by downing Lockhart 17-3 in both teams’ District 15-5A opener.
Tivy has spent the pre-district portion of its season competing against tough opponents and Class 6A schools, while also attempting to acclimate a relatively young team to a varsity setting.
“We’ve been looking for our first win,” senior offensive lineman Aaron Ortega said. “We’ve been in some really tough battles all season and this feels amazing.”
Ortega has seen limited play due to an early-season injury and was excited to be back on the field.
“I know we’ve had some mishaps, but I hope this community sticks with us, because we showed a lot of fight tonight and it’s only getting better from here,” Ortega said.
Ortega and fellow senior offensive lineman Ethan Peschel are part of the blue wall that protects sophomore and first-year varsity quarterback Jake Layton, who has re-ignited the Antler offense.
“It means a whole lot that the younger guys are stepping up, especially Jake Layton, and the younger guys on the O-Line with us,” Peschel, the team's center, said. “Jake’s doing a great job and we have his back.”
The Antlers scored on their first possession when Layton ran 48-yard on a keeper for a touchdown after only four plays and less than two minutes into the game. Zach Donaldson split the uprights to give Tivy a 7-0 lead.
The Tivy defense stood strong against Lockhart with big plays at key moments in the game, with tackles for losses recorded by Conner Scherer and Hayden Poe in the first quarter alone. The Lions marched downfield and attempted a fourth down conversion, but were swarmed by the Tivy defense to allow the ball to go over on downs to begin the second quarter of play. At halftime, Lockhart remained scoreless.
Layton set up the next Antler touchdown by rushing 19 yards and then connecting with Jack Frazier on a 16-yard touchdown pass. Donaldson made good on the extra point kick to up Tivy’s lead to 14-0 with 2:43 left in the third quarter.
Tivy’s defense continued to deny the Lions field position, but Lockhart finally made it on to the scoreboard when Joseph Suarez nailed a 40-yard field goal, bringing the score to 14-3 with 11:49 left to play.
Donaldson answered with a field goal of his own, splitting the uprights from 29 yards out for the Antlers at the 2:24 mark for the final score of the game.
Defensive playmakers for Tivy included Poe, Garrett Kleypas and sophomore defensive back Luke Johnston. Poe and Kleypas chased down Lockhart quarterback Dylan Evans multiple times and both recorded sacks. Johnston recovered a Lion fumble and picked off a pass that he returned for 10 yards.
“I saw the quarterback look over to that side, so I cheated in that direction and it came right to me,” Johnston said. “I was hoping to take it to the house, but I got tripped up at the last minute.”
Jones said he was definitely pleased with his team and their effort, but said the Antlers will need to work on cleaning up their game a bit.
“This was a district game that we needed to win, so we are thrilled to death,” Jones said. “We still have some things we need to correct. We had too many penalties. We just can’t do that. We’ll watch the film and get it figured out.”
On the night, Tivy posted 342 yards of total offense, while holding Lockhart to only 121 yards.
Layton led the Antlers in rushing, going for 128 yards on 15 attempts. Fisher Middleton carried 15 times for 104 yards. Desnic Houston, Ryan Maberry and Dalton Hanus added 14, 13 and 7 ground yards, respectively.
Frazier had four catches for 25 yards and one touchdown. Middleton made four grabs for 17 yards. Donaldson finished with 15 yards receiving on three touches, while Houston added 12 yards on four catches and Jackson Johnston posted seven yards on a single catch.
Friday’s win will provide the Antlers momentum as they head into preparation for next week’s game against rival Boerne Champion.
“We had a really rough non-district schedule and we’ve used that to prepare us for where we are now — 1-0 in district,” Jones said. “We’ll be ready for Boerne.”
The Antlers (1-4) will host Champion Friday night at 7:30 p.m.