Article Courtesy of Phil Hicks, Tyler Morning Telegraph
Tyler Junior College football coach Danny Palmer always says you never know what will turn around a game.
Saturday night in Brenham, a diving interception in the first portion of the third quarter by Jorren Pollard, a sophomore defensive back from Houston, seemed to galvanize the Apaches.
Trailing No. 6 Blinn 15-0 at the time, Pollard's pickoff brought a rousing roar from the TJC sidelines and the Apaches' fans. The momentum shifted to TJC and the No. 4-ranked Apaches rallied for a 34-22 victory at Cub Stadium.
"That was a big play," Palmer said. "At halftime, no was down. We were still confident. I credit my volunteer coaches O'Bryan Bell and TC Jones, who both played for me, for keeping the players up and in the game. We ran the same plays, but we just needed to execute."
Palmer also said Thomas Rocco (defensive coordinator) and Matt Gordon (offensive coordinator) did a great job preparing the Apaches. TJC had three turnovers in the first half, but none in the second.
After the pickoff by Pollard, the Apaches' offense picked up steam. TJC marched to the end zone from the Blinn 43 in six plays with Paul Watson lining up at QB and powering his way for a TD from the 1. That brought the score to 15-7.
Palmer noted the defense stepped up, halting a Blinn attack that had averaged 32 points a game.
Tyler got the ball back and had a drive of 10 plays for 79 yards, topped off by laser throw from quarterback Brennen Wooten to wide receiver Joseph Ward for a 10-yard TD. Tyler Dunlop's PAT made it 15-14.
Carlos Grace scored on a 1-yard run for the Buccaneers to put Blinn up 22-14 with 12:02 to go, but Tyler scored three consecutive TDs to end the game - a 30-yard bulldozing run by Shannon Vaughns; an 8-yard TD reception to Jamal Bell, the former Brownsboro star, from Wooten; and a 14-yard TD dash by JT Smith on third-and-goal from the 14.
"We played a lot of kids," Palmer said. "We had several youngsters step up like Jamal Bell (4 catches for 123 yards), Shannon Vaughns, who has gotten stronger and stronger since the summer, and the offensive line. I couldn't be more proud of a team."
Ethan Rose, a sophomore defensive back from Lafayette, Louisiana, led the Apaches with 12 tackles, a tackle for loss and an interception. Robert Williams, freshman linebacker from Monroe, Louisiana, added five tackles and a tackle for a loss. Both Rose and Williams had quarterback hurries.
Nick Gerber, a freshman from Levelland, started the game at QB. After three series Wooten came into the contest.
"I started Nick because he had had a good week of practice," Palmer said. "Plus, Brennen had been beat up a bit in the previous games. I didn't replace Nick because of his play, but I just felt we needed a different rhythm so that's why we brought Brennen into the game.
"Both quarterbacks were pulling for each other. In the past, I have had quarterbacks get their feelings hurt, but not these guys."
Palmer added, "There were two good teams out there. We were not perfect, we've got to work on some things, but I was very proud of the character of our team. We had a good week of practice and they were well-prepared."
SMOKE SIGNALS: Logan Fuller, coming off a big game with Cisco, injured his ankle on the first play of the game and did not return for TJC. He had 1 yard on the carry. … In other juco games on Saturday, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M defeated Kilgore, 42-14; Navarro downed Arkansas Baptist, 71-6; and Trinity Valley won over New Mexico Military, 56-29. … This week's games include: Navarro (2-3, 0-3 SWJCFC) at Tyler (5-0, 3-0), 1 p.m.; Blinn (4-1, 4-1) at Arkansas Baptist (0-4), 1 p.m.; New Mexico Military (2-3, 0-3) at Kilgore (2-3, 1-2), 5 p.m.; and Cisco (2-3, 1-3) at NE Oklahoma (3-2, 3-2). Trinity Valley (5-1, 3-1) has a bye.
NEXT UP: The No. 4 Tyler Junior College Apaches (5-0) meet the Navarro Bulldogs (2-3) in a Southwest Junior College Football Conference game on Saturday at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Earl Campbell Field. It is Fall Family Weekend hosted by Student Affairs.