After waiting 35 years for a playoff victory, the Blooming Grove Lions are going have to wait at least another year after dropping their bi-district match-up, 28-13, to the Jacksboro Tigers at Burleson ISD’s Elk Stadium Friday night. Despite the loss, the Lions finish the season with a record of 7-4, their first winning record since 1997 and their most wins since 1991.
Jacksboro’s Reid Spiller rushed for 91 yards and scored twice as the Tigers gained more than 500 yards of offense against the Lion defense. Nathan Zapata added two more scores for the Tigers, including a big 22-yard touchdown with just 11 seconds remaining in the first half as the Tigers pushed their lead to 21-0 at the break.
Blooming Grove struggled early offensively as the Lions managed only 78 yards of offense and three first downs in the first half. Fortunately for the Lions, the defense kept the game close. Despite playing most of the first half on their own side of the field, Blooming Grove stopped Jacksboro twice inside the 20 yard line, including an interception by Travis Whiteside at the 5 yard line early in the second quarter.
Following the interception, the Lions had their best possession of the first half, moving the ball into Tiger territory for the first time on a great catch by Brandon Hayes. The drive stalled and the Lions were forced to punt. Four plays later, the Tigers finally broke through on a 53 yard reverse for a touchdown by Zapata.
Blooming Grove rallied in the second half behind quarterback Jayd Kirby. The senior, held to only 22 yards rushing and 54 yard passing in the first half, led the Lions on 5-play, 88-yard drive to get the Lions on the scoreboard. Kirby rushed four times for 74 yards on the drive, including the last 35 yards for the touchdown.
After a defensive stop after a failed onside attempt, Kirby again led the Lions on a 92-yard scoring drive, culminating with a 78-yard touchdown strike to Tyler Ellis, cutting the Tiger lead to only eight points early in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately for the Lions, Jacksboro responded with a 60-yard touchdown run by Spiller for the final points of the night. Blooming Grove had one last gasp, as Kirby led the Lions down to the Tiger 11 yard line midway through the fourth quarter. But an interception by Spiller, and a subsequent four minute drive, killed any remaining chances for the Lions.
Kirby finished the night with 131 yards rushing and 196 yards passing to lead the Lion offense. Defensively, Blooming Grove was led by linebackers Ben Nicholson with nine tackles and Tyler Morris with eight.
Jacksboro 28, Blooming Grove 13
Blooming Grove 0 0 7 6 — 13
Jacksboro 0 21 0 7 — 28
J – Nathan Zapata 53 run (Antonio Murillo kick), 8:04
J – Reid Spiller 2 run (Murillo kick), 3:57
J – Zapata 22 pass from Kirk Weldon (Murillo kick), 0:11
B — Jayd Kirby 35 run (Tyler Ellis kick), 4:21
B — Ellis 78 pass from Kirby (run failed), 11:46
J — Spiller 60 run (Murillo kick), 10:27
First downs 11 22
Rush-yards 33-152 39-299
Passing yards 196 216
C-A-I 8-20-1 15-28-2
Fumbles-lost 3-1 2-0
Punts-avg. 6-35.3 4-29.8
Penalties-yards 6-45 4-21
Rushing — B: Jayd Kirby 24-131, Tyler Morris 3-18, Brandon Hays 5-2, Travis Whiteside 1-1. J: Reid Spiller 11-91, Kirk Weldon 13-62, Dylan Ervin 6-61, Nathan Zapata 1-53, Logan Dixon 6-37, David Stretcher 2-(-5).
Passing — B: Jayd Kirby 8-20-1-196. J: Kirk Weldon 14-27-2-179, Reid Spiller 1-1-0-37.
Receiving — B: Brandon Hayes 3-66, Tyler Ellis 2-84, Travis Whiteside 2-31, Zach Bayer 1-15. J: Jared Lamberson 4-58, David Stretcher 4-55, Nathan Zapata 3-44, Reid Spiller 2-25, Cooper Tisdale 1-23, Logan Dixon 1-11.