Eagles claim win in spite of 2nd half comeback by Jackets

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The Tatum Eagles dominated the Mineola Yellowjackets in the first half of play and went on to defeat the Jackets 52-21 Friday night at Eagles Stadium. The four score deficit was too much for the Jackets to overcome against a talented, deep and aggressive Eagles squad.

The Yellowjackets never got moving in the first half, with their eight first half possessions resulting in four punts, two turnovers on downs, one fumble and the halftime whistle. The Eagle defense keyed on the Yellowjackets running attack, holding Halfback Trevion Sneed and Quarterback Shaw Franklin to 57 and 54 yards respectively on the ground in the first half. Despite the perfect conditions, the passing game was only 4 of 14 for 16 yards on the night.

Mineola began festivities with a near perfect onside kick, and took possession on the Tatum 47 yard line. Behind a strong effort of Sneed off right tackle and a Cole Castleberry jet sweep, the Jackets moved down to the 27 yard line and faced a 4th and 2. Tatum adjusted to the off-tackle play to Sneed and Mineola turned the ball over on downs.

The Eagles came out in a trips right formation for all plays in their initial possession. After a three and out, Tatum never reverted to that formation for the remainder of the night.

Mineola took over at their own 22 yard line following the Tatum punt. A quick six plays later and Mineola punted from their own 41 yard line. Quarterback Franklin’s punt rolled out of bounds at the Tatum 19 yard line.

The Eagles struck quickly. A jet sweep and a quarterback option preceded the 49-yard scoring jaunt by Senior Tailback Jachais Jenkins. Jenkins took a power play off the left side, and cut back breaking free into the Mineola secondary. A high snap foiled the extra point attempt.

Tatum’s senior kicker Ismael Vazquez impacted the game through his deep and often unreturnable kickoffs all night long. Four of his kickoffs reached the end zone and were not returned. Three kicks were fair caught deep, and only one was returned resulting in a Mineola possession commencing at their own 13 yard line.

On that series the Yellowjackets could not string two first downs together and were forced to punt. Tatum then embarked on 12-play drive resulting in their second score of the night. Behind the scrambling of Quarterback O.B. Jones and the running of Jenkins and Sophomore Decartiyay Allison, Tatum scored on a 12-yard carry by Jones on the first play of the second quarter. A successful conversion made the score 14-0.

Lightning struck the Jackets on the initial play of the next series. While fighting for extra yardage around the left end, Sneed had the ball stripped during a gang tackle, and senior Eagle lineman Wardell Glaspie carried the ball in for a score from 25 yards out. The extra point made it 21 – 0 early in the second period.

The teams swapped punts with each side going six plays and out in their next series. Mineola then started to show some offensive punch. Taking the ball on their own 25 yard line the Yellowjackets moved with urgency. Buoyed by an amazing 34-yard scamper by Sneed on an option pitch, the Yellowjackets regained their form. As we have come to expect, Quarterback Franklin made a highlight reel play on that pitch to Sneed. Things were looking up for the Jackets. On a 3rd down and goal from the Eagles 3 yard line, a direct snap to Sneed sailed over his head and was covered back at the 23 yard line. An incompletion on 4th down resulted in a turnover on downs.

Tatum scored on their next two possessions on drives of 77 and 57 yards. Each drive featured a key play, a draw and a slip screen, to Running Back Allison, and each drive was capped by a running touchdown from Quarterback Jones on a 14-yard draw and an 18-yard bootleg keeper. These scores had bookended a Mineola three and out.

At the half time whistle the score stood 35 – 0. The yardage differential was telling. Mineola tallied 131 yards total offense in the half, while Tatum produced 289. The team speed of the Eagles was apparent, as was the quickness of their defense.

The Yellowjackets had not quit all season, and there was no quit in them this night. Taking the opening possession Mineola methodically moved down the field behind a series of quick pitches and quarterback sweeps. In six plays they were at the hosts’ 5 yard line. Franklin scored on one of the most beautiful 5 yard runs one could ever see. The senior quarterback cut back through a sea of defenders and picked the one gap which could carry him in for the score. Mineola was on the board.

It took Tatum two plays to answer. On the fourth deep go route attempt of the night, the Eagles sent three receivers, with Jones hitting the middle receiver for a 48-yard gain. Allison then scored on a 17 –yard quick pitch after being literally pushed into the end zone over the last five yards. The score stood 42 – 7.

Mineola stalled on their next series, and punted the ball back to the Eagles. Tatum scored from midfield on a skinny post route catch and run from Jones to Jenkins.

If there was ever a time question the character of a team, this was it. The score was 49-7 half way through the third quarter. It would have been easy to pack up the tent. That, to their great credit, was not an option for the Yellowjackets.

On a first down from their own 25 yard line, Franklin was spilled for a two yard loss. On second down a wide receiver screen picked up a first down out to the 35 yard line. At the snap of the ball on the next play Shaw Franklin took a QB draw and sprinted 65 yards for a score. Franklin’s amazing run had zero hesitation; it was as if he was running a 100 yard dash. Mineola had restored some pride and made the score 49 – 14.

The Yellowjackets would add another score early in the 4th quarter after forcing a Tatum fumble deep in Eagles territory. Sneed took the ball in from 11 yards out in a classic Mineola off-tackle play to make the score 49 – 21.

Tatum added a field goal halfway through the 4th quarter to end all scoring for the evening. The game was however, far from over. The remaining few minutes featured some of the hardest running one will ever see on the gridiron, as Trevion Sneed carried the ball ten times. Sneed, who finished the night with 216 yards on 32 carries, ran like a beast, punishing each defensive player unlucky enough to try to tackle him. The Mineola offense redeemed themselves through the course of the night, racking up 326 yards in the second half. Quarterback Franklin finished the night with 190 yards on 18 carries.

There was no doubt about the better team on this night. The skill and depth of the Tatum team was impressive. Also impressive was the heart demonstrated by the Yellowjackets.

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