HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Kilgore drops physical battle vs. Hallsville

Second-half turnovers too much to overcome in 20-10 defeat; freshmen, JV win; Pine Tree up next

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The threat of storms hovered over R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium for much of the early evening Friday night – the real storm was going on inside.

Kilgore hosted Hallsville Friday, the first meeting between the former district rivals since 2011. The Bulldogs had dominated the series, but Hallsville dominated the time of possession in this one, holding off the Ragin’ Red for a 20-10 win.

It was Hallsville’s first win over Kilgore since 2006 (Kilgore had a five game winning streak), and just the Bobcats’ 11th win over the Bulldogs ever.

The loss drops Kilgore to 0-2 on the season, and the ‘Dogs will hit the road next Friday night to Pine Tree, the Bulldogs’ first road game of the season. Kilgore will play at Texas High on Sept. 21, so the next home game will be homecoming, Sept. 28, against Pittsburg.

Kilgore’s last loss to Pine Tree came in 1991.

Hallsville, under second-year coach Joe Drennon, is now 2-0.

Kilgore led 10-7 at the half, courtesy of a 14-yard run by Kennieth Lacy, and a 37-yard field goal by Elivan Torres, shortly before halftime.

But the Bulldogs wouldn’t score in the second half. Hallsville just seemed to sit on the ball, utilizing a strong running game, a lot of it coming behind big offensive tackle Blake Trainor, a Texas A&M verbal commit. Hallsville senior quarterback Semaj Boyd led the Bobcats with 135 yards and two touchdowns, and Hallsville finished with 280 yards on the ground.

Each team dealt with third down and long, fourth down and long early in the game, and then Kilgore broke through for a score on its second possession. The Bobcats went for a fourth-and-18 on Kilgore’s 35-yard-line, and the pass fell incomplete.

Kilgore would take just four plays to score: Lacy picked up 12 quick yards on the first two downs, and then quarterback Gus Witt broke free through the middle of Hallsville’s defense for a 39-yard gain, down to the Bobcats’ 14. Lacy did the rest, scoring on a run from there with 22 seconds left in the quarter. Torres tacked on the extra point for the 7-0 Kilgore lead.

The Bobcats took over before the quarter ended and put together a clock-eating 13-play, 77-yard drive that tied the game on a 2-yard run by Boyd. Tristan Driggers, who does a little bit of everything for the Bobcats (running back, receiver, punter, kicker, etc)., tied the contest with the point after, with 5:19 left in the half.

Kilgore appeared to have scored on a 62-yard punt return by Damien Parker, with 46 seconds left in the half, but a penalty was called on Kilgore late in the return. The Bulldogs wound up settling for the 37-yard kick by Torres, with 19 seconds left. A skirmish before the half resulted in a player being ejected for each team, but the score remained 10-7 KHS at the break.

Unfortunately, the Bulldogs just couldn’t keep from shooting themselves in the foot in the second half. Mistakes, much as they did in the first half of the season opener against Nacogdoches, just prevented the Bulldogs from gaining ground, specifically turnovers.

Kilgore’s first possession in the third quarter ended in a punt – Efraim Mojica did a nice job for KHS in the game, averaging 41 yards a kick – but Hallsville took advantage. The Bobcats would score with 5:38 left in the quarter on a 20-yard run by Cortland Venters, going up 14-10.

The Bulldogs put together a good three-minute drive, but coughed the ball up at Hallsville’s 29, late in the third quarter. Boyd found receiver Sha’keem Jackson for a 33-yard pass play just before the quarter’s end, and Hallsville got inside Kilgore’s 15. The Bulldogs’ defense stiffened and forced a field goal, which Driggers missed. Kilgore still trailed, 14-10, in the fourth quarter.

But Kilgore turned the ball over again, this time an interception by – who else? – Driggers, who got it at Kilgore’s 22 and returned it to the Bulldogs’ 14, with 8:14 left in the game.

The Bobcats wouldn’t come up empty-handed this time. Boyd would score on a 1-yard run, and although the extra point was blocked, that would be the final score of the game.

Driggers finished with the interception on defense, and rushed 12 times for 90 yards. Jackson had two catches for 37 yards.

For the Bulldogs, Witt was the leading rusher, with 103 yards on 12 carries. Lacy finished with the touchdown and 52 yards on 11 carries. Nick Hooper also had 14 rushing yards.

Freshmen, JV

In the sub-varsity games played Thursday night in Hallsville, both the freshmen and junior varsity KHS teams won, with each team now 2-0 on the season.

They’ll play their home openers next Thursday night here at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium against Pine Tree. The freshmen start at 5, with JV to follow.

Coach Robert Cooley’s Kilgore freshmen pulled out a 14-13 win. Cooley said the defense for both teams seemed to be on the field the entire game. Hallsville scored first, but Kilgore answered with Jermaine Roney scoring from 4 yards out, around the left end. The score was tied at 7-all at the half.

Hallsville scored, and went up 13-7, but missed the extra point. That would obviously prove costly. Late in the game, Kilgore’s Israel Vasquez went left, and dove into the end zone for the game-tying score. Chris Baldozo kicked the tie-breaking extra point, and Kilgore’s defense held on to give the freshmen ‘Dogs the win. Cooley singled out Caden Cox for playing in two games.

For the Bulldogs’ JV, coached by Jay Dean, it was a win, and not nearly as close: Kilgore blasted Hallsville, 28-6. Dean said Dalton McElyea, Cade Pippen, Gavin Smith, Billy Bell, Carter Clark and Josh Kennel were offensive standouts – McElyea passed to Pippen twice, one of them a Kilgore touchdown – and on defense, standout performers included Bobby Owens, Brantley Propes and Mason Henderson.

Smith scored a touchdown, as well, and McElyea had a two-point conversion. Owens did as well, on a catch. Bell had a touchdown run and a catch.

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