Vandals blank Terrell in regular season finale, 34-0

What a difference a week makes for the Van Vandals especially on the defensive side of the ball as they broke open a tight game in the fourth quarter to shutout the visiting Terrell Tigers, 34-0, Friday night in the regular season and district season finale at Van’s Memorial Stadium.

For the second year in a row, the Vandals finished regular season play at 9-1 overall. They will enter post-season play as the District 8-4A, Division I runner-up with a 5-1 district mark.

Terrell saw their 2017 campaign come to a close as the Tigers finished the season 3-7 overall and 2-4 in district play.

The Vandals will take on a familiar foe in the bi-district round of the Class 4A, Division I state playoffs when they meet the Princeton Panthers at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Rockwall.

Princeton is coming off a 35-0 victory over Anna as the Panthers will enter the state playoffs as the third-place team in District 7-4A, Division I.

This will be the fourth time in the past two seasons that the Vandals and the Panthers have squared off with Van winning all three of the previous meetings including a come-from-behind 48-34 victory at Princeton Sept. 2 as the Vandals rallied from a 27-0 deficit in the second quarter.

Against Terrell, the Vandal defense arguably turned in its best performance of the season as they forced three Tiger fumbles, registered three quarterback sacks and stopped Terrell three times on attempted fourth down conversions. Van finished its home schedule undefeated for the second year in a row.

The Tigers were held to 208 total yards of offense including 45 yards rushing while the Vandal offense finished the contest with 348 total yards including 292 yards rushing.

Running back Davonta Johnson led the Vandal running game with 91 yards rushing on 15 carries and three touchdowns.

Terrell received the opening kickoff and threatened to get on the scoreboard with its first offensive possession as the Tigers advanced from their own 16 to the Van 3-yard line in 14 plays including pass completions from QB Micah Skinner covering 23 yards to wide receiver Marqueece Jackson, 19 yards to RB Jordan Hickman, 22 yards to Keilan Rodgers and 14 yards to Victor Robinson in addition to a 17-yard run by slot back N’Kavian Malone.

Facing fourth down and goal at the Van 3-yard line, the Tigers decided to go for the TD but the over seven-minute drive ended with no points as the pass from Skinner was batted away at the line of scrimmage by Vandal defensive lineman Emillio Herrera resulting in an incomplete pass.

Van also began with a time-consuming march on its first offensive series as the Vandals moved from their own 3-yard line to the Terrell 37 in 10 plays including a 32-yard run by QB Garrett Moseley (nine carries, 60 yards).

On fourth down and nine at the Tiger 37, the scoring threat ended for the Vandals as Moseley’s pass to receiver Gus Brewer was incomplete.

Van’s defense forced a Terrell turnover on the next Tiger offensive possession as a fumble by Skinner was recovered by Vandal defensive tackle Jake Kellam at the Tiger 33.

Five plays later, Johnson ended the short scoring drive with a 1-yard TD run. Calen McKinney added the extra point giving Van a 7-0 advantage with 9:40 to play in the second quarter.

Running gains of 10 yards by RB Elijah Rankine and back-to-back 12-yard gains by Johnson were key plays in the first scoring drive of the contest.

Terrell again threatened to get into the end zone on its next series as the Tigers moved from their own 30 to the Vandal 32 in 11 plays including pass completions from Skinner covering 12 and 14 yards to Rodgers.

On fourth down and 13 at the Van 32, the Tigers decided to go for the first down but Skinner’s pass to Jackson was incomplete.

The Vandals moved as deep as the Terrell 44 on its next series of downs but two holding penalties ended any hopes of a scoring threat as the Vandals were later forced to punt allowing the Tigers to run out the first half clock with Van maintaining its slim advantage.

An exchange of punts opened the third quarter of play including a Terrell punt from the back of its own zone but the punt was returned and fumbled by Van’s Ridge Preston with the Tigers recovering the ball at the Terrell 16 but the Tigers failed to pick up a first down resulting in another Terrell punt.

On second down and three at the Terrell 41, a pass from Moseley over the middle was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Tiger linebacker Jaquevious Morris at the Tiger 41.

A 39-yard pass completion from Skinner to Jackson set up another potential Terrell scoring threat at the Vandal 20 but later on fourth down and nine, Miller’s pass was tipped resulting in an incompletion and another failed fourth down effort by Terrell.

Six plays later, including running gains of 19 yards by Rankine and 13 yards by Brewer in addition to a personal foul penalty against the Tigers, Van had excellent field position with a first down at the Tiger 30 but on fourth down and three at the Terrell 23, Moseley’s pass over the middle to a wide-open H-back Cade Borgeson was overthrown resulting in an incompletion on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Following a Terrell punt, the Vandals began to expand their lead as they moved 70 yards in seven plays.

Johnson ended the scoring march with a 2-yard TD run. McKinney added the extra point to give the Vandals a little more breathing room as they extended their lead to 14-0 with 8:01 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Running gains of 16 yards by receiver Bray Doring and 12 and 20 yards by Johnson in addition to a 10-yard pass completion from Moseley to Rankine were key plays in the Vandal TD march.

A 32-yard run by Skinner gave the Tigers a first down at the Vandal 32 but Van’s defense came through again on fourth down and 11 as a pass from Skinner to Robinson gained only three yards giving the Vandals possession at the Van 34.

A 39-yard reverse by Brewer and a face mask penalty against Terrell gave the Vandals a first down at the Tiger 14 with a chance to add to Van’s lead but an illegal block penalty stopped any hopes of a scoring threat by the Vandals forcing a punting situation.

The punt bounced inside the 5-yard line and for some reason, a Terrell punt returner attempted to pick up the ball and fumbled with Van’s Marcus Orozco falling on the loose football at the Terrell 3-yard line.

On the next play, Johnson began to put the game out of reach with a 3-yard TD run. McKinney added the extra point giving the Vandals a 21-0 lead with 2:56 remaining in the game.

Terrell was backed up deep in its own end of the field and on third down and 16 at the Tiger 9-yard line, Skinner completed a screen pass to Malone but Malone fumbled and Vandal linebacker Beau Thompson recovered the loose football at the Terrell 9-yard line.

On fourth down and goal at the Terrell 2-yard line, reserve RB Alex Harris, on his fourth consecutive carry, plunged into the end zone on a 2-yard TD run. McKinney added the extra point to increase the Vandal advantage to 28-0 with only four seconds to play in the contest.

After a personal foul penalty assessed against Terrell on the TD run by Harris, Van kicked off high and short as a lateral attempt on the kickoff return by the Tigers was fumbled with Harris falling on the loose football in the end zone to end the scoring at 34-0 in favor of the Vandals to conclude the game.