Global pandemics make for strange bedfellows, apparently.
Kilgore and Terrell don’t meet often in any sport, but thanks to the COVID-19 football schedule adjustments, they met here at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium Friday night, the second game of the season for both teams.
Terrell probably wishes they hadn’t.
The Bulldogs, likely freshly angry after losing the season opener to top-ranked Carthage, took it out on Terrell to the tune of a 26-7 final. Kilgore’s Tray Epps finished with 196 yards rushing and a touchdown on 19 carries; Jermaine Roney had a 2-yard touchdown; Brian Brown had a 20-yard touchdown catch from Dalton McElyea; and kicker Chris Baldazo had a couple of field goals, one from 40 yards out.
The Ragin’ Red (1-1 this season) is scheduled to play at Alvarado next Friday night, another newly-scheduled game after the UIL ruled that Class 6A and 5A programs had to delay their season until late September.
The coronavirus-forced changes produced the first Kilgore-Terrell football game since the second round of the 2003 Class 4A playoffs.
Kilgore led 3-0 after a first quarter that saw one key turnover: an interception by Kilgore’s Corey Rider.
That pick, at midfield, was not returned – Rider fell down – but he gave KHS the ball with great field position and they didn’t waste time, a steady diet of Epps, a little from Roney thrown in, and ultimately, when the drive stalled at Tigers’ 5-yard-line, a 22-yard field goal by Baldazo to give the Ragin’ Red the small 3-0 advantage.
It didn’t last long. Terrell scored on their next possession, but it wasn’t the scoring play that fired up the Tigers: it was a 24-yard run by sophomore quarterback Kanye Nix, who looked to be hemmed in like six times by the Kilgore defense, but wiggled and wrangled his way to the Kilgore 7.
The Tigers did score, a 2-yard run by Nix, and gave Terrell a 7-3 lead.
But the rest of the half belonged to Kilgore. The Bulldogs got a nice lift on a big kick return by Donovan Adkins, and then a 14-yard run by Epps on first down into Terrell territory. Davin Rider came on for a 23-yard run down to Terrell’s 16, and two plays later, the Tigers were flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty when they tossed Epps down out of bounds.
Two plays later, Roney scored to put Kilgore in front, 10-7, and they would get one more before halftime. The Tigers went for two fourth-down conversions in their own territory on their next drive: they made the first one, but on the second, Nix was thrown for a loss on fourth and inches.
Kilgore took over at Terrell’s 37 with 1:02 left in the half, and just like last week, the ‘Dogs made magic happen. Roney picked up 5 yards on the first down play, and Epps did the rest, a 32-yard touchdown that, coupled with the extra point by Baldazo, gave Kilgore the 16-7 halftime edge.
Kilgore owned the ball almost the entirety of the third quarter, a long drive that began after the opening kickoff at its own 37 and culminated with points, a 40-yard field goal by Baldazo. McElyea had a masterful play earlier in the game, drawing Terrell offsides on a fourth-and-3 play, getting KHS the first down without the Bulldogs actually having to run a play.
But the drive stalled at Terrell’s 18, and Baldazo came in for the fairly-long field goal out of the hold of Cade Pippen.
A Terrell fumble in the fourth quarter, with 7:58 left allowed Kilgore to put the dagger in and finish it, namely a 34-yard pass from McElyea to Adkins, down to Terrell’s 10-yard-line. McElyea tossed a nice throw to Brown, who hauled it in for the touchdown to cap the four-play, 44-yard drive, and give KHS the 26-7 finish.
Kilgore’s history with Terrell is brief, but a bit of a see-saw. The Bulldogs have played Terrell seven times, and re now 4-3 after Friday’s game. Kilgore won the first two meetings (in 1962, 26-14, then again in ’63), and then didn’t face the Tigers again until 2000. Terrell beat KHS in the 2000 regular season, then again in the ’01 regular season, and in the first round of the ’01 playoffs. Kilgore got revenge two years later, beating Terrell badly, 49-12, in the second, or area, round of the 2003 playoffs.