By Mike Phillips
Corsicana Daily Sun
The ball left Tyler Ellis’ foot and it had 36 years riding on it as it sailed into the west, hanging there, higher and higher, carrying Blooming Grove right into pandemonium -- right into a place the kids and coaches and fans had long dreamed of -- and when it landed, it landed those no-quit Lions right into the second round of the Class 2A DII playoffs for the first time in ages.
That’s what Ellis’ 48-yard field goal with seven seconds left meant to Blooming Grove’s Lions, who hadn’t won a playoff game since 1977.
They’ve got one now.
They stormed the field and hugged and hugged -- then hugged some more after Ellis’s field goal had lifted Blooming Grove to a 38-35 win over Jacksboro in the Region III 2A DII bi-district playoffs Friday at DeSoto’s Eagle Stadium.
“That was awesome,” said Ellis, who was ecstatic over the win and still beaming with happiness that Coach Gary Grubbs gave him the chance to win it.
“He called timeout and before he even asked if I could do hit it, I said ‘Yes, I can do it.’”
He did it.
Ellis said he hit all eight of his warmup kicks before the game, including two from 50 yards. But none was sweeter than a 48-yarder that carried the Lions into next week. Blooming Grove (7-4) is alive and well in the playoffs and on its way to the area round, where the Lions meet Leonard next at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Coppell..
It’s Round 2 for Blooming Grove and it feels like they just rounded the top of a mountain.
Don’t blame these kids if they feel that way.
They built a 28-7 lead only to watch Jacksboro fight back and knot the score at 35-35 with Chase Thompson’s 2-point run that came on a reverse with 4:31 left in the game.
There was one last chance for the Lions, who took the ball at their 10 and just stayed alive. Tyler Morris, who finished with 262 yards on the ground and some great TD runs (84 and 51) in the first half, made his biggest run on the last drive, racing 41 yards to the Jacksboro 45 to ignite the drive that stalled at the 31.
That’s when Ellis, who was 5 for 5 in field goals this season with a 40-yarder as his longest, stepped up and delivered. Jacksboro called time out to ice him, then Ellis iced Jacksboro’s season, with the kick that had more than enough to clear the 48 yards and a kick that lifted an entire community right on its feet.
These Lions might not come down for a while.
Why should they? They looked like world-beaters early.
There’s nothing like being there, nothing like that first time to the dance.
But the second time was even sweeter.
Just ask the kids from Blooming Grove, who after a long playoff drought lost to Jacksboro in the opening round of the playoffs a year ago, and then came back a little hungrier and with a lot more confidence this time around. You could see it early against a Jacksboro team (8-3) that had won eight in a row and outscored opponents by 200 points during that winning streak. One website had the Tigers as 21 point favorites.
Then the Lions brought the storm, and now they head into the next round with a head of steam.
Grubbs talked this week about how last year’s playoff team started a little slow and was down 21-0 early. But Grubbs said at halftime his kids realized that ‘Hey, we can play with these guys,’ and outscored Jacksboro in the second half in a 28-13 loss.
They didn’t wait Friday.
The Lions fell behind 7-0 and then just stormed into the end zone again and again with one big play after another.
Tyler Morris scored twice in the first half and Travis Whiteside and Ellis also found the end zone and the Lions went to halftime this year with a 28-7 lead and realized they can win in the postseason.
Boy, did they.
Morris rushed for 168 yards and two TDs in the first half, and Ellis hit Whiteside with a 9-yard TD pass to get the ball rolling with 5:23 left in the first quarter and the Lions never slowed down. Morris had his 84-yard TD run with 3:10 left in the first, and added his 51-yard breakaway with 5:44 left in the half. Then Ellis, who would need his big foot later, put on the fanciest footwork of the night with a remarkable zig-zag run from one side of the field to the other and back again on a 31-yard shake-your-head TD run with 23 seconds left in the half to lift the Lions to a 28-7 lead.
He was just warming up on dramatic endings.
Ellis ran for 83 yards and threw for 39, and Whiteside had a monster game for the Lions, rushing for 116 of his 154 yards in the second half when every yard was precious.
Jacksboro scored 28 second half points on TD runs by D.J. Thomas, who rushed for 220 yards and scored on a 56-yard run, and QB Kirk Weldon, who pushed his way in for a 3-yard TD and 4-yard TD. His 4-yarder cut the lead to 28-27 with 10:42 left, but Blooming Grove got a hand on Antonio Murrilo’s PAT, which left things at 28-27.
Whiteside and the Lions bounced back with a 79-yard drive that ended when Whiteside scored on a 24-yard run with 8:05 left and Ellis’ PAT made it 35-27. Weldon brought the Tigers back with a 21-yard pass to Caleb Martin and the Tigers ran a reverse for two points to knot the score and everyone‘s stomachs with 4:31 left.
Then came the final drive, and Ellis‘ kick -- the one that landed in Blooming Grove Lore.
They’ll be talking about Ellis’ big kick years from now.
The way it left his foot and sailed right into legend …
Blooming Grove 38, Jacksboro 35
Blooming Grove 14 14 0 10 — 38
Jacksboro 7 0 14 7 — 35
J -- Cooper Tisdale 20 pass from Kirk Weldon (Antonio Murillo kick) 10:45
BG -- Travis Whiteside 9 pass from Tyler Ellis (Ellis kick) 5:23
BG -- Tyler Morris 84 run (Ellis kick) 3:10
BG -- Morris 51 run (Ellis kick) 3:10
BG -- Ellis 31 run (Ellis kick) 0:23
J -- Weldon 3 run (Murillo kick) 8:42
J -- D.J. Thomas 56 run (Murillo kick) 4:02
J -- Weldon 2 run (Murillo fails) 10:42
BG -- Whiteside 24 run (Ellis kick) 8:03
J -- Caleb Martin 21 pass from Weldon (Chase Thompson run) 4:31
BG -- 48 FG Ellis 0:07
First Downs 20 22
Rush-yards 47-51 41-323
Passing-yards 39 142
C-A-I 5-9-1 10-16-1
Fumbles-lost 3-1 3-1
Punts-avg. 3-27 2-43
Penalties 9-75 3-45