Game 9 vs. Mt. Pleasant

Bulldogs Charge into Playoffs

By Bobby Summers

Mount Pleasant- In a must win situation for the Mount Pleasant Tigers and a doorway to the playoffs game for the Royse City Bulldogs, the Bulldogs held off a late game surge by the Tigers and secured their second playoff spot in just three years of class 4A competition.  

The jump from Class 3A football to Class 4A is much more than a jump, it is a huge flying leap that several Texas high schools usually find themselves falling flat on their face. Only a select few will make the playoffs in their first several years in the new classification.  Yet the Royse City Bulldogs under the guidance of Athletic Director and head football coach Greg Strahm are in the Class 4A playoffs twice in their first three years.

The Bulldogs took the trip down IH30 to take down the Tigers at Sam Parker Field at Mount Pleasant.  Royse City knocked on that playoff door early as the Bulldogs drove to the Tiger 8 yard line following a 58 yard pass completion from Taylor Corbin to Taylor Pollock.  However the Bulldogs fumbled on the exchange from Corbin to senior tailback Jonathon Burns and the Tigers staved off the Royse City threat to score early in the first quarter.

However on the Bulldogs second possession the successful Corbin to Burns exchanges had only just begun as the fleet footed tailback ripped off runs of 14 and 10 yards before he raced in for his first touchdown from 22 yards out.  The point after the touchdown was blocked, but the Bulldogs took their first 6-0 lead with 47 seconds remaining in the first period.

Royse City came back with two more touchdowns in the second quarter off of a 39 yard touchdown run by Burns and a 32 yard scamper by the senior tailback.  Burns three touchdown first half performance also included 135 yards rushing against a stingy Mount Pleasant defense.  Both two point conversions failed and those eventually were costly factors when the game entered the final four minutes of play.

Khouri Jones, Mount Pleasant defensive back and wide receiver, picked off a Corbin pass intended for Jake Horbacz.  Jones’ pick six was returned 42 yards for the touchdown. But again the extra point by Mount Pleasant failed and the Bulldogs took an 18-6 lead into halftime.

Royse City dominated the first half with 235 total offensive yards while the Bulldog defense held the Tigers to just 53 yards rushing and 35 yards passing.

Mount Pleasant came out the second half with intentions of turning this game around in their direction and they did that by an unbalanced line that put the strength of the Tigers to good use.  That is the running game and it worked in the beginning as Tiger Stephen Julian took the reverse handoff and ran 30 yards for the touchdown and the first blood drawn in the second half.  The two point conversion failed again and with 7:59 to play in the second half, Mount Pleasant trailed 18-12.

Both teams swapped fourth quarter touchdowns as the Bulldogs scored first for a little more breathing room.  Taylor Corbin connected with Horbacz on a 23 yard touchdown pass at the 7:35 mark of the fourth quarter.  The two point conversion failed as the Bulldogs took a 24-12 lead.

Mount Pleasant responded with a 70 yard touchdown pass from Stephen Julian to Khouri Jones with 6:40 to play in the game.  The Tigers converted their first PAT with an extra point kick and with that it was a 5 point ballgame as the Tigers trailed 24-19. 

Following a Bulldog fumble that was recovered by Royse City on their own 12 yard line, the Bulldogs punted out of their own endzone. With exactly four minutes to play in the game the Tigers returned the punt to the Royse City 21 yard line. Facing third and eight at the Bulldog 19 yard line, the Tigers abandoned their power run and decided to try and find Khouri Jones in the endzone.  However a fierce Bulldog defensive rush led by J.R. Arredondo resulted in the junior linebacker stripping the ball from the Tiger quarterback and stopping any other Mount Pleasant threat to win this game.

The Bulldogs chewed up the remaining 2:17 off of the clock and closed the door on any Tiger hopes of postseason play.  The Bulldog celebration for returning to the State Playoffs, with only a one year hiatus, began immediately even though Royse City still has one district game to play on their schedule.

The Bulldogs will battle for playoff position this Friday night at Royse City ISD Stadium when they will host Sulphur Springs. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30