MOUNT PLEASANT — Perhaps the best playoff match-up in all of East Texas electrified the capacity crowd at Sam Parker Stadium in Mount Pleasant, where the Daingerfield Tigers outslugged the New Boston Lions, 35-28.
The game was tied 28-28 in the fourth quarter with one minute left in regulation play when Daingerfield’s Edwin Mims returned a punt 70 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and what looked like an assured win to the uninitiated. Anyone who knew anything about the Lions would have known that the ball game wasn’t near over.
Following the kickoff, the Lions took the ball from their 25 to the Tigers’ 14-yard line in three plays. With 4.5 seconds on the clock, quarterback Aaron Conkleton lofted a pass into the end zone that fell incomplete and the jubilant Tigers advanced to the state quarterfinals.
Daingerfield (11-3) moves on to face Wall next week in the state semifinals. Wall was a 48-24 winner over Eastland on Friday. New Boston, which defeated Daingerfield 38-37 back on Oct. 5 in a regular season game, ends the year with a 12-1 record.
The game began with New Boston taking the opening kickoff. Four plays later, they found themselves punting the ball away. Daingerfield wasted no time in driving the ball down for a touchdown.
The five-play, 57-yard drive was assisted by 20 yards in penalties against the Lions. A 15-yard penalty was immediately followed by a five-yard penalty and the Tigers found themselves on the New Boston 37-yard line.
Three running plays, the longest being the touchdown run of 33 yards by Mims got them on the scoreboard. Carlos Macias kicked the PAT and the Tigers were ahead 7-0.
The Lions roared back five minutes later with their own TD. The 11-play, 70-yard drive was capped by a 27-yard run around the left side by Damien Haskins. Cole Pace kicked the PAT and the score was knotted at seven apiece.
Daingerfield scored on their next drive. Seven seconds into the second quarter they drove 63 yards in six plays. A chunk of that came on a 48-yard pass from Keris Anderson to Shawn Hooks. Anderson’s 8 yard pass to Tykeema Wilson netted the touchdown. Macias again kicked the PAT and Daingerfield was ahead 14-7.
Two possessions later, New Boston took the ball on a punt to their 36-yard line. A penalty sent the ball half the distance to the goal and the Lions found themselves on their own six-yard line but it didn’t matter much on the next play.
Haskins passed to Tyjae Clark, who raced 94 yards for the score. Pace again kicked the PAT and the score was tied 14-14.
New Boston scored with 25 seconds remaining in the first half when Jeff Gladney intercepted a pass and ran it 70 yards for the touchdown. Pace again kicked the PAT and the Lions went into the half with a 21-14 lead.
The Tigers scored on their second possession of the second half, driving 63 yards in six plays. Mims ran 19 yards for the score and Macias again kicked the PAT, tying the game at 21-21.
The Lions couldn’t move the ball, punted to Daingerfield and the Tigers drove 57 yards in seven plays with Mims again running the ball in from 10 yards out. Macias added the PAT and the Tigers were up 28-21.
The Lions were driving when Jonathan Barber intercepted the ball and ran it back for a touchdown but a penalty against the Tigers nullified the score. Two plays later, Conkleton passed 24 yards to Clark for the score and Pace kicked the PAT. The score was again tied.
The fourth quarter was scoreless until literally the last minute. Mims returned a New Boston punt 70 yards for the game-winning touchdown, Macias kicked and the Tigers were ahead 35-28.
The Lions’ final drive ended on the Tigers’ 14-yard line.