ROYSE CITY — What a game!
Ketron Jackson intercepted a Hail Mary pass attempt by the Greenville Lions in the Royse City end zone to preserve a 56-49 Bulldog victory in a District 8-5A-II football shootout that featured big play after big play on Friday night at Royse City ISD Stadium.
The win gave the 5-2 Bulldogs the third seed from 8-5A-II in the upcoming playoffs. Greenville, which dropped to 4-3, will enter the playoffs as the fourth seed. Both teams have one more district game remaining in two weeks. The Lions will play Ennis and the Bulldogs will battle North Forney, the top two-rated teams in the district.
Greenville and Royse City combined for 15 touchdowns and 1,140 yards of total offense, including 563 yards by the Lions and 577 by the Bulldogs.
It looked like for much of the game that team that had the ball last would win. And it almost happened that way as Greenville quarterback Brandon Stephens led the Lions on a drive that started from their 32 with 1:18 left to the Bulldog 35 with 27 seconds remaining. But the Lions got backed up five yards on a penalty. The Bulldogs forced an incompletion. Stephens was shaken up and left the field for a play but returned for the final play from the Bulldog 40 with just four seconds remaining. The Lion quarterback, who’d rushed for 103 yards and thrown for 253, eluded a Bulldog pass rush and then uncorked an arching pass into the end zone where a group of four players from both teams leaped up to try to come down with the football.
Jackson, who has verbally committed to play at Arkansas, is the one who caught the final throw. Jackson ran out of the end zone and then went down about his 10-yard line, carefully protecting the ball as the game ended.
Sir Hill scored the game-winning touchdown for Royse City with 1:25 remaining on a 43-yard pass from quarterback Joe Veracruz, who was 10-of-14 passing for 186 yards and three TDs. Hill also caught a 49-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Michael Alphin scored on an 8-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.
Junior running back Champ Petty-Dozier led the way for the Bulldogs, rushing for a game-high 257 yards on 17 carries, including scoring runs of 91, 21, 28 and 19 yards.
Greenville countered with the rushing of Stephens, who scored on a 3-yard run, and Miles Denson, who ran for 131 yards on 17 carries, scoring on sprints of 28, 4 and 28 yards.
Wide receiver Shawn Brown also had a big game for the Lions, catching five passes for 105 yards, including touchdowns of 20, 52 and 6 yards on passes from Stephens.
Denson also caught four passes for 72 yards, while Zydarrenain Tyson and Ja’Quez Davis also caught two passes each.
Tyson Neighbors took over some of the rushing load from Petty-Dozier late in the game, running for 74 yards on 11 carries, including a 9-yard touchdown run.
Both placekickers delivered with clutch extra points as the game was tied at 21-21, 28-28, 35-35 and 49-49. Mitchell Stokes of Royse City was 8-of-8 on conversion kicks and Archer Odeneal was 7-of-7 for Greenville.