Anthony Young

Daily Sun File photo/Ron  Farmer

Corsicana sophomore Anthony Young missed the Ennis game with an injury, but the Tigers, who had a bye week this week, expect the tailback to return Friday when they open the playoffs against Braswell with a healthy backfield.

FORNEY -- There was that moment of joy and jubilation.

Tigers, smiling and laughing, pouring the traditional celebration barrel of water over defensive coordinator Greg Davis.

Davis deserved it. He has done a terrific job with the defense and his kids showered him with cold water and a shutout Friday night in Forney, where they stepped up every time the Jackrabbits threatened to score in a 7-0 victory.

It was the first shutout of the year for the Tigers, who needed it on a night when they had trouble moving the ball and even more problems finding the end zone against a Forney team that has had losing season.

Without a doubt, the Jackrabbits (2-6, 1-5 in district) played what was arguably their best game of the year while the Tigers played their worst.

Please, don't argue that point with Tiger coach Hal Wasson. Sure, Wasson's happy his kids won, happy they are 7-2 and 6-1 in a district that is much better than it was a year ago. 

He will be quick to tell you how proud he is of his kids.

But Wasson talked this week about how important it was for his team, a young and for the most part untested group that has come so far so fast, to take another step -- a big step.

This was Week 9, and Wasson knows how important it is to play well down the stretch, to make great strides and build momentum and confidence as you head into the playoffs.

He wanted focus, focus and more focus for this game.

He wanted to see his kids, who have been more than impressive on this marvelous ride of growth and success (and at times a ride of pleasant surprises), make that kind of stride Friday night.

Simply put, they didn't.

The good news is the Tigers have next week -- and oh what a week it is.

This is Ennis Week.

Go ahead and begin the countdown. Those state-ranked Lions will be at Tiger Stadium Friday night. They're unbeaten in the District 8-5A DII race and they had a bye week -- just like last year when the UIL so graciously gave Ennis two weeks to prepare for Corsicana (by the way, did any other team in Texas have to play a 10-game schedule without a bye week?).

The math is pretty simple on this one: Ennis is 6-0 in the district race with a game against Greenville in two weeks while the Tigers can wrap up their regular season with a 7-1 district record and tie Ennis for first place with a win.

Royse City also has one loss with two games left, and there's a chance for a three-way tie and a shared district title.

But the Tigers have to win to create all of that. Simply put, they have to beat Ennis or they will finish in third.

They're in the playoffs, but they want the district title or at least a share of it, and that means picking themselves off the Forney floor and playing their best game of the year seven days after playing their worst offensive game of the season.

Please don't argue with Wasson that it can't be done. He has coached more than enough football to know it can happen, and that's what he'll be doing all week -- coaching his kids to play their best a week from now.

The Tigers want to see the offense next Friday that rolled up points all year with a physical offensive line and hard running tailbacks and a quarterback who can thread the needle and cut up a secondary.

That group was missing for the most part in Forney, where the Tigers ran for only 159 yards and completed just 5-of-20 passes for a season low 61 yards on a cold and wet night that seemed colder and wetter every time you looked at the scoreboard.

The Tigers' only touchdown came with 5:52 left in the half when Anthony Young scored on a 1-yard run to complete a 75-yard, eight-play drive that was aided by two 15-yard penalties by the Jackrabbits.

Young, who left the game in the third quarter, had a solid night, rushing for 102 yards, but he was one of the few bright spots for an offense that couldn't take advantage early when Forney fumbled away Corsicana's first two punts.

Linebacker Grant Harrison, who had a big game, recovered the first fumble at the Forney 43, but the Tigers couldn't move the ball and Forney took over on downs at the 36 after an incompletion on fourth-and-three.

Chris Degrate, a sophomore defensive back, recovered the second fumble at the Forney 31, and on second down Solomon James hit Qua Chambers with a 14-yard pass for a first down at the 19. But the Tigers stalled again and turned the ball over on downs at the 16.

It was that kind of night.

Young's TD run put some life into the game before halftime, but Forney put together a drive from its 30 to the Tiger 5-yard line and threatened to tie things up before the break. 

Drew Denbow knocked down a second-down pass in the end zone, and was covering on a third down incompletion that forced the Jackrabbits to settle for a 22-yard field goal attempt, but the kick went wide left with 13 seconds left and the Tigers led 7-0 at halftime.

They appeared ready to break the game open with a 14-0 lead when they drove to the Forney 1-yard-line at the end of the third on a drive from the Tiger 29 to within inches of the goal line that was fueled by the running of Damarius Daniels.

But a four-yard loss on first down on the final play of the third backed the Tigers up. Then it was a total disaster as a bad snap sent the ball back to the 17 and a fumble was recovered by the Tigers at the 27 on fourth down.

Forney took the momentum of the goal-line stand and drove to the Tiger 15, but was stopped when linebacker Tyler Farmer came up with a five-yard sack back to the 20, where on fourth-and-12 Forney missed a 37-yard field goal attempt to keep the shutout in play.

The Tiger D held Forney to just 154 yards on the ground and 30 in the air in a dominating performance, and celebrated afterward.

Then there was that moment of joy and jubilation.

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