Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

October 16, 2013

Corsicana Football: Nacogdoches at Corsicana

Corsicana — The news isn’t good for Corsicana and running back Tray Owens.

And if that’s not bad enough, the Tigers face one of the hottest teams — and arguably the most surprising team in Class 4A in Texas — on Friday.

It would be a lot more fun to play Nacogdoches with Owens in the backfield, but Corsicana’s sensational sophomore tailback is listed as doubtful for Friday night’s game in Tiger Stadium.

But Corsicana will go with Plan B.

“It’s a pretty bad ankle sprain,’’ said Corsicana coach Steve Hoffman this week. “We’re going day by day. We’re preparing without him.’’

Owens, who had gained 823 yards in his previous two games and was coming off a record-breaking 467-yard night, suffered an ankle injury on the second play from scrimmage against Tyler John Tyler on Friday, and Hoffman said the Tigers are preparing for Nacogdoches without him.

No team has been really ready to prepare for the Dragons, who have shocked everyone this season. Coming off an 0-10 season, the Dragons have emerged as the sleeper to win District 16-4A, where they opened with a 31-0 romp over Jacksonville last week.

They come into Corsicana with a 5-1 record, and their only loss was a 44-40 wild one to state power Carthage. They beat Class 5A Lufkin 28-24. That’s the same Lufkin team that opened the season by beating Tyler 52-28 and knocking the Lions out of the state’s Top 10 poll.

Corsicana is coming off a 51-22 loss to Tyler that turned around in the second half when Tyler took over after going to halftime with a 17-14 lead.

No one knows what would have happened had Owens been in the game. The Tigers have been able to score points in bunches this season, and led 14-0 last week.

Donavan Fields stepped in for Owens and gained 206 yards, and will be counted on again Friday, but Fields is one of the top safeties in this part of the state, and the domino effect hurt Corsicana’s defense.

“Donavan did a great job coming in last week,’’ Hoffman said. “But it was hard on us defensively. But you have to do what you have to do.’’

Fields and quarterback Devontay Bell, who will likely play cornerback in college, both played both ways and Corsicana’s offense, which looked unstoppable early on long drives, including a 97-yard march, slowed down in the second half.

Tyler hurt Corsicana the same place every team hurts the Tigers.

“We just have to stop giving up big plays,’’ Hoffman said. “We have to stop doing that to ourselves. We’ve got to fix it and make sure we don’t give up the big plays. It has hurt us all year.’’

That has been the key to the season and the reason Corsicana is 1-4 and 0-1 in district play.

“We’ve got to get stops,” Hoffman said. “If we get the stops defensively, we can win football games.’’

Nacogdoches has big play capability. Tailback Brandon Jones can fly. He scored on an 80-yard punt return last week and on a 48-yard TD run.

But what makes Nacogdoches dangerous is the ability to throw and run behind a big offensive line that is anchored by center Jacob Bragg, a 6-3, 295-pound senior who has already committed to Kansas State.

“They are a real balanced team,’’ Hoffman said. “They throw and run, and they have a real good offensive line. Their center is a real good player. Their quarterback (Bryce Matthews) does a good job and their running backs are good. They have a good team offensively and they have a real quick defense.’’

With four district games left, this week’s game looms even more important.

“This is a big game for us,’’ Hoffman said. “I think we’ll come out and play well. We’ve got to string something together and make a push toward the playoffs.’’

That has been the key to the season and the reason Corsicana is 1-4 and 0-1 in district play.

“We’ve got to get stops,” Hoffman said. “If we get the stops defensively, we can win football games.’’

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