Daniels just kept going.

Just kept pushing and plowing forward.

1-2-3 big hits, one after another slammed into Daniels.

He just kept going ...

"I wasn't thinking of anything," said Daniels later.

What about the big hits he took?

"I didn't feel any of them," he said. "I was just thinking score, just score."

He did.

Oh, brother, did he ever. And when he knocked down the final Boswell defender and left him on the Tiger Stadium turf Daniels simply just kept going, right into the end zone and into a bit of Tiger lore.

His 12-yard run through Boswell's defense with 34 seconds left lifted the Tigers by Boswell in their home opener Friday, and lifted Tiger Stadium right off the ground.

Yup, they were going crazy, shaking and quaking in the stands. Not exactly earthquake stuff but just enough to see a program move.

Daniels' TD run in the final seconds capped a tremendous comeback and helped give the Tigers a 40-34 win -- the first victory in the Hal Wasson era, a win that may not define the program or Wasson, but a victory that could ignite the legendary coach and his young team.

"That's the Energizer Bunny," said Wasson, his smile beaming. "We needed this. Bless their hearts! I can't say enough about this team.

"That's the sign of a young team and that's the sign of very good leadership," he said. "We're growing as a team."

You grow up a lot and you grow up fast when you spend the night coming back and then win in the final minute. They looked like a band of veterans during the winning drive, cool and collected, poised and confident.

Hard to believe most of this team is brand new. You would never convince Boswell. Not the way the Tigers marched down the field to win this one, the way they covered 52 yards in four minutes, calmly converting a third-and-five at the Boswell 47, and turning a third-and-seven at the 20 into a first-and-10 at the 12 with 59 seconds left.

Solomon James, the Tigers' baby-face sophomore quarterback never looked this mature, but there he was zipping a bullet to Lane Fuentes on the third-and-five at the 47 for a seven-yard gain and a first down at the 40, and then with the pressure mounting, the Kid broke Boswell's heart with another beauty -- a 17-yard catch and run by Fuentes who raced to the Pioneer 23.

Then at the 20, facing a third-and-seven, James stepped up and sent a strike to Savion Miller for six yards to the 14. Surely, the young QB and the brand new Tigers would crack here -- right here at the 14, facing a fourth-and-one (a fourth and the game to go) with 59 seconds left.

But not tonight. Not at home. Not now. By now if these young Tigers, who had learned so much from Wasson since he arrived in January, believed in their coach and they believed in each other.

Believe this: James went right at Boswell with a keeper and fought his way forward for two mighty big yards. First and 10 at the 12.

The clock was ticking under a minute and there wasn't much time, but plenty of time to call Daniels' number. And sure enough the sophomore who was in the backfield for the first time in a varsity game, knew just what to do.

He refused to go down.

Now, get this. Turns out that Daniels is the grandson of Bill Jones. Yeah, that Bill Jones, the legendary Tigers running back who led Don Denbow's 1982 team to state.

Jones' grandson refused to go down.

His no-quit run gave the Tigers a 38-34 lead and James finished off the Pioneers with another pass to Fuentes, who burned Boswell again for the two-point conversion.

Ironically the game ended with Daylon Slade making a remarkable interception on Boswell's final possession, leaping up and ripping the ball away from the Boswell receiver.

Slade was in the backfield last week, but didn't hang his head when he was moved to the secondary, didn't get down. He just kept moving forward and made a spectacular play, a play that says a lot about his character and the character of this team.

Like Daniels, Slade refused to go down.

So did Wasson's Tigers who trailed 13-0 in less time than it takes to say "Welcome to Tiger Stadium."

That's how fast Boswell's Pioneers, a veteran Class 5A DI team that brought back 15 starters from last year's playoff tested group, needed to score twice in the first quarter.  

Brayden Thomas, a four-year starter at quarterback, led the way as Cody Mayberry cashed in with a 5-yard TD run and  Derrick Berry ran for a 7-yard TD for a lightning-quick 13-0 first quarter lead. Thomas connected with Torrance Wiseman on a 54-yard TD pass and the Pioneers put up 19 first-quarter points.

But Daniels started the comeback that he would ultimately end when he broke free for a 64-yard TD run to get the Tigers on their own scoreboard, and the Tigers took advantage of a fumbled punt and scored with 0:07 left in the quarter when James hit Fuentes with a 13-yard TD pass.

It was 19-14 and somehow the Tigers were right back in the game. They went to halftime trailing 26-20 after Eric Dickson busted open an 82-yard TD run, and the Tigers, who had no running game to speak of a week ago, were literally off and running with two new running backs in the backfield.

Dickson and Daniels, the Double D attack, ran for 210 yards in the first half with Dickson going to the break with 140 yards on nine carries. Dickson finished with 193 yards on 18 carries, and Daniels ran for 100 on a dozen carries, 

Wasson had promised changes in his lineup after last week's loss, and he's a man who keeps his promises.

James finished with 170 yards in the air, completing 19 of 32 passes and two touchdowns, and he ran for a TD.

The second half belonged to the Tigers, who simply shut down Boswell's offense down the stretch. The Pioneers took a 34-20 lead with 7:41 left in the third, but the Tigers slammed the door after that and allowed just 49 more yards the rest of the night, including shutting down a fake punt run for a three-yard loss when Tyler Farmer smothered Toby Fuller at the Tiger 34.

Dickson's 40-yard run to the Boswell 12 set up a 1-yard TD run by James that closed the gap to 34-26 with 1:56 left in the third, and Farmer's play on the fake punt set up a 34-yard drive that ended when James threw his best pass of the night -- a 42-yard rainbow in the left corner of the end zone to Qua Chambers, who made a big-time TD catch that made it a 34-32 game.

Yes, it was a 42-yard TD pass on a drive that started at the Boswell 34, thanks to some creative officiating that flagged the Tigers for intentional grounding by a crew of officials who refused to recognize Fuentes was an eligible receiver on the play -- despite several assistant coaches yelling out that "No. 1 was in the middle of the field."

That ridiculous penalty forced a fourth-and-28 at the 42, and James burned Boswell and the officials with his TD pass.

The officials had trouble spotting Fuentes earlier in the third on what has to be the worst no-call of the season in all of Texas. Fuentes was going up for a pass inside the Boswell 10 when everyone in the stadium watched a Boswell defender wipe out Fuentes before the ball arrived. The New Orleans Saints took the NFL to court on a similar play that kept the Saints out of the Super Bowl. 

The same officials wiped out a two-point completion to Fuentes after Chambers' TD catch that would-a,-could-a, should-a tied the score at 34-34.

But the Tigers ignored the tough luck calls and just kept coming, and got a huge break when the Tigers punted from their own 26 and the ball sailed over the deep man and took a wild bounce and bounced all the way to the Boswell 14-yard line.

There was 5:34 left in the game, but the swarming Tigers defense held Berry to a three-yard gain and then put so much pressure on Thomas he was forced to throw two passes out of bounds to prevent from being sacked on second and third downs, stopping the clock twice.

Farmer and Ricardo Olvera were the two Tigers that literally forced Thomas to stop the clock, and instead of running the clock down, Boswell was able to eat up only 60 seconds and the Tigers got the ball back with 4:34 left -- plenty of time to win it.

"It makes me proud of our defense," Farmer said later. "We came up and stopped them in the second half. They couldn't score (after the 34-20 lead). When we needed it the most we played our best, and we stepped up and stopped them.

"And I'm so proud of our offense tonight and the way they stepped up and came through. This shows we can be a championship team."

These Tigers might just make a run this year.

They could just keep going and going -- just like Daniels on his TD run ...

Recommended for you