By Charles Johnson
LONGVIEW – The Daingerfield Tigers claimed a class AAA, Division II, area football championship last Friday afternoon with a 48-30 defeat of the Harmony Eagles at Pine Tree Pirate Stadium.
Harmony dug a deep hole for itself early in the game with three, first quarter turnovers, and the Tigers used a big play offense to continue its quest in the state playoffs. The Tigers held a 30-8 halftime lead which was more than a valiant second-half rally by the Eagles could overcome.
Things started out great for Harmony as Eagle Cameron Helpenstill recovered an onside opening kickoff. This would be Harmony’s first quarter highlight, however, as two plays later the Tigers picked off an Eagle pass. On the third play of Daingerfield’s initial series, Zaylon Jeter raced 44 yards for the Tigers’ first TD and an early 6-0 lead.
Harmony was marching the ball on its next possession but fumbled the ball away at the Eagle 47. On the next play, Jakobie Craver sped 47 yards for another quick Tiger score and a 12-0 advantage.
The Eagles seemed determined to stabilize the game on the next series by marching from their own 33 to the Tiger 3 yard line where the fumble-bug hit again to stop the drive. The Tigers scored two more times mid-way through the second quarter to take a 24-0 lead.
The Eagles finally gave the Harmony fans an opportunity to cheer before halftime with a 62-yard, 6 play scoring drive. Isaac Edwards crossed the double-stripe on a 2 yard run and added a 2-point conversion to narrow the deficit to 24-8 with 2:15 showing in the first half. Edwards score was set up by a 32 yard pass from Gage Goddard to Taylor Mahaffey and 28 yards on four rushes by Easton Blackstone.
Daingerfield neutralized the Eagle score with a 4 yard TD run by Jakouri Woods with 10 seconds remaining before intermission.
Harmony came back determined in the second half. The Eagles went on a marathon and methodical, 20-play, 78 yard scoring drive to open the third quarter. Blackstone added the last two yards of the drive and a 2-point conversion to pull the Eagles to 30-16 with 3:34 remaining in the third.
The Eagle defense was inspired and turned the ball over on downs at the 50 yard line. Eight plays later, Blackstone crashed into the end zone again from 11 yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter to bring the Eagles within one possession at 30-22.
Craver again let the air out of the Eagles with a 55-yard scoring run to make the score 36-22 at the 9:40 mark of the final frame. After the Eagles were forced to punt, Blackstone showed his defensive prowess by picking off a Tiger pass and returning it to the Tiger 42.
Goddard promptly hit Michael Everett with a 42-yard scoring strike on the next play, and Edwards’ PAT run made the score 36-30 in Daingerfield’s advantage with 5:16 to play in the game. But the Eagles simply could not contain the Tigers’ big plays as Craver scored again on a 32 yard run which followed an 18-yard scamper by Woods.
Daingerfield added another late TD on a 28 yard pass from Woods to Anthony Hall. Ironically, as successful as the Tigers were on offense, they failed to convert a single extra point following their eight touchdowns.
Isaac Edwards led Harmony in rushing with 101 yards on 19 carries. Easton Blackstone, filling in at running back for injured Barrett Hill, totaled 91 yards rushing on 19 totes. Michael Everett and Marcus Davis had three receptions each for the Eagles.
Daingerfield (8-3) advances to the regional quarterfinals to play Corrigan-Camden who beat Winona, 54-40, in area play. Harmony closes the 2018 campaign with a record of 10-2. The Eagles were a perfect 7-0 in District 10-AAA, Div II play.
Although disappointed with the loss, the Eagles return a nucleus of key players next season. These lettermen, coupled with a junior varsity which went undefeated in district play, should give the Harmony faithful more reasons for celebration next season.
Score by quarter:
1 2 3 4 T
H 0 8 8 14 – 30
D 12 18 0 18 – 48
GAME AT A GLANCE
23 ……. First Downs ………. 16
55-209 … Rushes-Yds ……. 31-307
11-21-2 … Passes: C-A-I ….. 9-13-1
149 ……. Passing Yds …….. 138
358 …….. Total Yds. ……… 445
2-20 …… Penalties-Yds ….. 3-15
2-2 …….. Fumbles-Lost …… 1-0
4-33.8 …. Punts-Avg. …….. 2-29.5