Six different quarterbacks, a half-dozen fumbles, 400 combined rushing yards, two blocked kicks, a safety, and a partridge in a pear tree -- it was a wet and wild night at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Kilgore College was in the contest against visiting Tyler Junior College the entire night, until the final few moments, when the Apaches were able to control the line of scrimmage and pick up necessary first downs, score a late insurance touchdown, and deal the Rangers a 22-8 loss.
KC (0-1) will get an early open date for the second straight season. They'll be off next Saturday, then return to action again at home on Saturday, Sept. 9, to host Arkansas Baptist.
TJC (1-0) has a quick turnaround: they'll host Texas A&T this Thursday night at 7, then be off until Sept. 9.
The two Southwest Junior College Football Conference teams will meet again in the regular season finale at Rose Stadium in Tyler, and that one counts in the conference standings. Saturday's did not.
The Apaches were able to capitalize on KC mistakes in the first half, and then had a relatively short field for their offense to work with in the second half -- at least three times, TJC started a drive at or near midfield.
But it was a KC drive that actually resulted in the first TJC points of the game. Backed up against his own goal line, KC punter Emmanuel Jones couldn't handle the slippery ball -- it rained the entire game, the remnants of Hurricane Harvey -- and it squirted out of the end zone for a safety. TJC led 2-0, late in the opening quarter.
Later in the half, KC got things jumpstarted with a 36-yard catch by Jonathan Mackey down to TJC's 15-yard-line. But the wet ball again proved an enemy, as KC tailback DeMontre Tuggle couldn't hold onto it, and coughed it up on the very next play.
Still another KC fumble, the Rangers' third of the first half, got away from Anthony Thomas in the half, and TJC made the Rangers pay for that one. TJC quarterback Brennan Wooten found teammate Joseph Ward for a 29-yard score. The extra point was blocked, but TJC grabbed an 8-0 lead and took it into halftime.
Wooten struck again in the third quarter, this time on an 11-yard pass to Trent Williams, doubling the Apaches' lead to 15-0.
The Rangers would make TJC sweat a bit, though. Just after the start of the fourth quarter, KC scored on a 7-yard run by Tuttle, and then KC quarterback Roger McCuller found Mackey for the two-point conversion. KC was within a touchdown with the entire fourth quarter to play.
KC got some help on the drive when Thomas was hit in the air by TJC defensive back Seth Glenn, who was flagged for targeting and ejected from the contest. Then, the offensive line and Tuggle got the Rangers into scoring position. Tuggle managed a third-down 15-yard run as a part of it.
But the Apaches got the ball and just sat on it for much of the fourth quarter, keeping it on the ground without a single pass. Jeremy Wilson scored the night's final touchdown from 20 yards out to cap a 62-yard drive. The Apaches then took over on downs after KC's next drive and were able to run out the rest of the clock, about five minutes of game clock.
The story of the night besides the slippery ball might have been normally pass-happy TJC committing to the run. In all, TJC accounted for 280 yards rushing in the game. KC ran for 160.
Thomas led KC with 48 yards on the ground. McCuller had 43, as did Tuggle.
The Rangers used three quarterbacks: McCuller, from Hallsville, and also Jalil Kilpatrick of Mansfield Timberview and Magnolia's Jacob Frazier. Tyler also used three different quarterbacks in the game, although Wooten got much of the playing time.
Kilpatrick was 3-of-5 for 42 yards. McCuller was 2-of-6 for 30 yards, and Frazier was 2-of-6 for 14 yards.