ROYSE CITY -- It's time for the Tigers to bounce back -- and bounce back hard.
That's what they're faced with after losing their first district game Friday night in a 27-0 loss to Royse City's Bulldogs, who stopped Corsicana cold all night and ended the Tigers' five-game winning streak.
Royse City shut out the Tigers but the Bulldogs didn't shut down their season. There's plenty of time for Hal Wasson's young Tigers to come back and win a district title.
Sure, they will need some help,, but the fact is if Royse City, which played its best game of the year, slips in its final four games, the Tigers can still claim the District 8-5A DII title.
The Bulldogs (3-1) have already lost to Ennis and if they lose one of their last four games, the Tigers (4-1) could grab the title if they run the table and beat Sulphur Springs, Forney and knock off Ennis (5-0) in the season finale at Tiger Stadium.
RC still has to play Greenville and North Forney and either of those teams has the capability of upsetting Royce City, if the Bulldogs slip.
They didn't slip or even stutter step Friday on a night when the Bulldogs did everything right and got some redemption against the Tigers, who held RC to less than 100 yards of offense a year ago in a one-sided 20-0 shutout in Corsicana that eventually cost RC a playoff berth when the Bulldogs finished in a three-way tie for third and lost out on the tiebreaker.
But they were ready for the Tigers this time, and played like a team on a mission, taking everything away from Corsicana.
The Tigers, who had rushed for more than 1,200 yards and thrown for more than 1,200 yards this year, simply couldn't get anything going and when they did costly penalties and even more costly turnovers killed any momentum they might have found.
The Tigers knew they were in for a long night when -- on Royse City's first drive of the night the Bulldogs got their biggest play -- and their longest gain of the game -- when they recovered their own fumble for a 34-yard gain that set them up at the Tiger 8-yard line. You can't advance a fumble in the NFL, but they can roll all the way to Arkansas on Interstate 30.
After the big fumble, Payton Petroff scored on an 8-yard run to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead and he scored the final points of the game with 3:29 left on a 9-yard run to tack on seven points for the 27-point cushion
If the Tigers beat Ennis and RC wins out and there's a three-way tie for first-place, those final seven points could be vital in a tie-breaker scenario between Ennis, RC and the Tigers. Ennis beat RC 38-17 last week.
But if the Tigers run the table and RC loses a game, the Tigers and Ennis would tie for first, a game ahead of RC, and the Tigers would win their second consecutive 8-5A DII title because of the head-to-head advantage over Ennis, which hammered Royse City in Ennis.
But this was a different team than the one that lost to Ennis a week ago. This was their night in Royse City.
The Bulldogs fumbled the ball four times and only lost it once, and they scored on a 49-yard drive to take a 14-0 lead in the second quarter when almost half their yards on that drive came via penalties, including back-to-back personal foul calls on the Tigers in the Red Zone.
But the reason the Tigers lost Friday was because they simply couldn't move the ball, and never found the end zone.
RC scored on two Petroff runs and a 2-yard TD run by Bryce Martinez that lifted the Bulldogs to a 14-0 lead with 6:29 left in the half.
The Bulldogs also scored on two field goals by Anthony Ortiz, who kicked a 33-yarder with 19 seconds left in the half to give RC a 17-0 lead on a drive that included a person foul on the Tigers that moved the ball to the Tiger 15.
Ortiz added a 27-yarder with 8:16 left in the third that capped off a drive that started when Drew Denbow made back-to-back defensive plays for losses to open the second half and put RC in a third-and-14 situation at the Bulldog 28.
But on third down the Tigers were flagged for pass interference on an incomplete pass that kept the drive alive. The Bulldogs drove to the Tiger 7-yard line on a 28-yard pass from Tyson Oliver to Michael Alphin, who made a fingertip catch. The Tigers held, and Ortiz nailed his 27-yarder to make it 20-0.
The Tigers had chances. Trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, they drove to the Bulldog 27, but RC intercepted a Solomon James pass at the 15 and returned it to the Tiger 49.
Down 17-0 in the third, the Tigers drove inside the 10 when Anthony Young, who led Corsicana with 59 yards on nine carries, picked up an 11-yard gain to the RC 8-yard-line. But on first down, the Tigers were flagged for holding and were backed up to the 18, and never recovered.
They gave the ball up on downs at the 24 when on fourth down James was hammered while throwing an incomplete pass in the end zone. There was no roughing the passer penalty call on the play. James left the game with an undisclosed injury and did not return. Denbow took over at quarterback and finished the game without throwing a pass.
It was a long and frustrating night for the Tigers, who ran for only 97 yards on 27 carries, and for James, who completed 14-of-27 passes for 114 yards.
Damarius Daniels, who had rushed for more than 550 yards over the past five games, was held to 18 yards on nine carries. Denbow gained 20 yards on four carries.
No one on RC had big numbers, either
Petroff rushed for 62 yards on 17 carries and Martinez gained 38 yards on 11. Ahmon Petty-Dozier led the Bulldogs with 71 yards on 18 carries. RC quarterback Tyson Oliver completed 15-of-23 passes for 142 yards.
The big numbers came from an officiating crew that flagged Corsicana for more than 100 yards, by far the most of the season by the Tigers.
No big numbers, but it was the biggest night of the year for Royse City and gives the Tigers an even bigger chance to come back.