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Tennison, Matadors hold off Herd for 34-26 season-opening win

Posted: August 30, 2012 - 10:28pm  |  Updated: August 31, 2012 - 12:09am
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Estacado's Robert Johnson stiff arms Hereford's Tyler Collins during their game Thursday at PlainsCapital Park in Lubbock.
Estacado's Robert Johnson stiff arms Hereford's Tyler Collins during their game Thursday at PlainsCapital Park in Lubbock.
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Estacado may have just found the quarterback it needs to take the pressure off running back Robert Johnson — for now and the future.

Sophomore Jalen Tennison ran for 101 yards and a touchdown and threw for 154 yards and two scores, leading the Matadors (No. 4 South Plains Top 10) to a 34-26 victory over Class 4A Hereford Thursday night at Lowrey Field in the season opener for both teams.

“I was kind of nervous,” Tennison said. “After I got that first hit over, there was no more nervousness. Throughout the game as we got closer and they kept coming back, I got some of the nerves back but we were able to pull it out. It felt good.”

Tennison apparently already has a favorite target. Senior T.C. Courtney finished with five catches for 142 yards and both touchdowns as the Mats (1-0) led the entire game, keeping the Whitefaces (0-1) at bay thanks to the balance provided by the passing game.

Courtney’s 65-yard catch and run to the end zone was Tennison’s first touchdown pass of the season. The two later hooked up for a 22-yard score that put the game out of reach, then sealed the win with a 41-yarder that took the ball deep into Hereford territory late in the game.

“He’s a tremendous athlete and we saw a little bit of that tonight,” Estacado coach Danny Servance said. “He did a good job for the most part of managing the game like we talked about. He was a little nervous at the beginning of the game, which is to be expected from a sophomore. But he did settle into it and ended up doing a good job.”

More importantly, the ability to throw the football effectively took the defensive focus off of Johnson, the top returning running back in the state in Class 3A after he rushed for 2,230 yards and 30 touchdowns last season.

Johnson had just 15 carries but amassed 92 yards and a touchdown, and had an 85-yard kickoff return nullified by a penalty.

Hereford did a good job for the most part of bottling up Johnson in the first half, holding him to 55 yards and a touchdown and only one big run on seven carries. But the Whitefaces were never able to take advantage, playing from behind almost the entire first half and not capitalizing on Estacado mistakes, mainly a slew of second-half penalties (13 for 115 yards in the game).

“I guess the bottom line, like I told our kids, is we accomplished our goal, which was to be 1-0 at the end of the night,” Servance said.

Estacado’s defense set the tone early. Hereford’s first three plays after a false start penalty were two fumbles and a 1-yard pass. The second fumble came deep in Whiteface territory as quarterback Ray Martinez was sacked, and Brian Brown picked up the loose ball and returned it 4 yards for the first touchdown of the season.

“We deferred to the second half because we want to set the tone with our defense,” Servance said. “I thought we did that and it worked out well.”

With those nerves out of the way, the Herd came right back to tie the game at 6-all with a 9-play, 73-yard drive. Martinez was a perfect 5 for 5 on the drive for 57 yards, including the last 7 on a scoring toss to JaDeion High.

The Matadors quickly regained the lead on their next possession. A 32-yard burst up the middle by fullback Tamory Terry set up Johnson’s first touchdown of the year, a 26-yarder in which he broke two tackles. Tennison kept around right end for the two-point conversion to give Estacado a 14-6 lead with 3:08 left in the first.

Estacado’s defense rose up to keep the Whitefaces at bay, forcing punts on three straight drive. That allowed the Mats offense to take control midway through the second quarter.

On second-and-0 at the Mats 35, Tennison tossed his first touchdown when he hit Courtney on a deep post, and Courtney did the rest, running away from two defenders for the 65-yard score and a 20-6 Estacado lead.

But the Mats gave up the advantage right before half as Tennison fumbled on a keeper and Robbie Cantu picked it up for the Herd at the Estacado 36. A pair of keepers by Martinez and an Estacado penalty put the ball at the Mats’ 23, and Martinez kept it one more time for the score to cut the lead to 20-13, where it stayed at halftime.

The Herd could never get to within closer than a touchdown. After the kickoff return by Johnson was called back and a snap went past Tennison for a 19-yard loss, the Mats recovered nicely as Tennison took an option keeper 65 yards for his second touchdown of the game and a 27-13 lead.

After the Whitefaces pulled to within 27-20, Estacado extended it after a Rodrick Hall interception stopped the Herd at the Estacado 38. Tennison finished off the game-clinching drive by hitting Courtney for a 22-yard touchdown pass on third-and-17.

But thanks to penalties and allowing some big plays in the second half, the Mats could never completely put the Herd away. Martinez guided the Whitefaces to within 34-26 midway through the fourth quarter. But a fumble and turnover on downs on its final two drives of the game kept them from threatening with the tying score.

Martinez finished with 62 rushing yards and two touchdowns while throwing for 192 yards and a touchdown.

To comment on this story:

george.watson@lubbockonline.com • 766-2166

terry.greenberg@lubbockonline.com • 766-8700

ESTACADO 34, HEREFORD 26

Hereford 6 7 7 6 — 26

Estacado 14 6 7 7 — 34

First Quarter

EST — Brian Brown 4 fumble return for touchdown (kick failed); 11:06

HER — JaDeion High 7 pass from Ray Martinez (kick failed); 7:03

EST — Robert Johnson 26 run (Jalen Tennison run); 3:06

Second Quarter

EST — T.C. Courtney 65 pass from Jalen Tennison (kick blocked); 6:01

HER — Martinez 23 run (Oscar Chavira kick); 1:51

Third Quarter

EST — Tennison 69 run (Tennison kick); 9:45

HER — Martinez 1 run (Chavira kick); 6:40

Fourth Quarter

EST — Courtney 22 pass from Tennison (Jesse Gomez kick); 9:24

HER — Shawndi Gaytan 1 run (kick blocked); 7:33

TEAM STATISTICS

HER EST

First downs 18 13

Rushes-yards 24-80 37-236

Passing yards 193 154

Comp.-att.-int. 17-30-1 7-10-0

Punts-avg. 3-27.6 3-42.6

Fumbles-lost 3-2 3-1

Penalties-yards 7-57 13-115

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Hereford, Ray Martinez 12-62, Toby Garza 10-25, Shawndi Gaytan 1-1, JaDeion High 1-(-8); Estacado, Jalen Tennison 17-101, Robert Johnson 15-92, Tamory Terry 5-43.

PASSING: Hereford, Martinez 17-30-1—193; Estacado, Tennison 7-10-0—154

RECEIVING: Hereford, High 8-108, Blake Gestes 4-66, Josh Lopez 2-10, Nate Cabezuela 2-7, Payton Gonzales 1-1; Estacado, Courtney 5-142, Septimus Anderson 1-6, Robert Johnson 1-6.

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I hope Coach Danny doesn't

I hope Coach Danny doesn't forget about Robert Johnson. Johnson is only the top 3A returning running back. His 92 yards make him seem mediocre....as compared to last season.

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