Royse City did it again.
The Bulldogs improved to 4-0 by defeating Corsicana's Tigers 41-21 at Community National Bank & Trust Stadium Friday night in the District 8-5A DII opener.
It was the first loss of the season for a Tiger team that surprised just about everyone with their 3-0 start this season -- a three game stretch that says a lot more about this group of Tigers than Friday night's loss.
Hal Wasson's kids get back on the horse (you know the one that throws you off) next week when they travel to Forney for what now is a key district game. The Jackrabbits knocked off North Forney (the team Texas Football magazine picked to finish second in the district behind state-ranked Ennis) in their annual rivalry game on Friday.
And as Wasson knows all too well -- next week's game is the biggest of the year (so far). It's always the biggest, and most important. Bigger now because the Tigers have to show their ability to bounce back. They've proven to be as resilient as any team in Texas in their three victories, and came close to staging a second-half comeback Friday.
They were down 24-7 at halftime, but showed that same resilience when they closed the gap to 24-14 when Dontay Thomas broke free for a 54-yard touchdown run on the Tigers' first play from scrimmage.
They held RC to a field goal, and looked poised to come back when they marched to the RC 20-yard line. But they lost seven yards on third down and, facing a fourth-and-nine, quarterback Adrian Baston scrambled for seven yards, falling just short of the first down.
Baston, a sophomore, has played like a seasoned veteran all year -- a strong, fearless quarterback who has great drive and a sense of the game. He knows how to manage a game and knows how to take a game over -- and he was just short on what could have been the play of the game.
It wasn't because the Tigers lost.
Baston will get that first down in the future -- countless first downs. That's how bright his future looks, and the future for these Tigers is pretty bright as well. They lost by 20 on a night when everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Some call that Murphy's Law, some call it Royse City's Law.
The Bulldogs have Corsicana's number right now, and have had it since they won the 2019 game on I-30 that started the three-game run after the Tigers beat them 20-0 in 2018.
That game in 2019 started the streak when RC recovered its own fumble after the ball bounced forward 34 yards to the Tiger 8-yard-line to set up the first TD of the night. The ball's been bouncing RC's way since.
The Bulldogs have been loaded with talent since and haven't needed any bounces go their way, but they always seem to come. The Dawgs had nothing to do with it, but when they walked onto Tiger Field Friday, three of Corsicana's receivers were already out with injuries, and Anthony Young, who has been the Tigers' best running back this season, left the game before halftime with 53 yards (and over 300 this season) with an injury.
Royse City's Law?
Still, the Tigers were resilient and tried to mount a second-half comeback, driving to the RC 20 in the third and to the RC 22 in the fourth quarter before coming up short on fourth downs.
When they came up short at the 22 to start the fourth quarter, RC took over the game, scoring seconds later on a 73-yard pass from backup quarterback Tatum Woods to Jonah Roberson with 10:03 left in the game, and -- after recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff -- RC scored again on Ahmon Dozier's 16-yard reception with 9:54 left (that's 14 points in a nine-second span off the game clock).
It was Dozier's second touchdown of the night -- he caught a 46-yard TD pass from Kenneth Spring to open the scoring on RC's opening drive that was kept alive by a questionable pass interference call on a third-and-13 play from the RC 27.
Royce City's Law?
Spring had a big night, despite sitting out a few plays. He completed 14-of-17 passes for 246 yards and looked like the best quarterback in the district.
He threw an interception but more than made up for it by tossing three touchdown passes, including two to Dozier. His other TD toss was a 42-yarder to Roberson with 5:18 left in the half. Roberson had scored on the previous drive on a 12-yard run and his two touchdowns before the break gave RC a 24-7 halftime lead. He finished the night with six receptions for 185 yards and three touchdowns.
You can't call the Bulldogs a rival, but anyone who follows the Tiger football team knows the dogs are an aggravation and a nuisance and no one will miss playing them if and when the UIL sends RC into a bigger district as far away from Beaton Street as possible. It could happen because RC is growing so fast that it now seems like a Dallas suburb more than Greenville's neighbor.
The Tigers lost their third game in as many years to the Bulldogs, who couldn't gain 100 yards or find the end zone with a detective back in 2018 when they first came to Tiger Stadium and went home with a 20-0 loss. But like Friday night, it's been all Royse Town since.
The program has grown, just like the sprawling community, and the Bulldogs are a powerhouse team every year now under a head coach who is inventive and knows how to use his talent to its best capabilities. They hit hard and score often.
The Tigers are just getting started in a district race that should be more competitive than a year ago with a team that is so much more competitive than a year ago.
Baston, a newcomer to varsity football, had another impressive outing, driving for a 4-yard TD run on a keeper that closed the gap to 10-7 in the first quarter, and leading the two long drives that just came up short in the second half. He ran for 66 yards on 11 carries and completed 11-of-21 passes for 110 yards with three receivers out with injuries.
Most of that went to Da Da Daniels, who had eight receptions for 70 yards, including an 8-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter. Jabril Douglas caught the other four for 40 yards.
The Tigers can take a lot from this loss, and these are the kind of growing pains that can help a program that's trying to grow fast. This one stung -- especially because of the injury to Young, but these Tigers might not lose for a while.
If they're healthy they could start another winning streak next week when they face Forney on the road and then get a bye week before making the run through district that starts at Greenville in a huge game as big as the one they played Friday night. Then its home against Sulphur Springs and then back to Forney to play North Forney and home against an improved Crandall team before the annual finale against Ennis, where they will be considerable underdogs.
No one expected the Tigers to go 3-0, but that's why the kids and coaches on this team expect to win -- even after another Royse City's Law loss.