Photo: Gordon DeLoach/TexasHSFootball

SPRINGTOWN, Texas — It wasn’t the extremely high scoring affair Porcupine Stadium hosted last night, but Jonesboro and Tioga featured the same back-and-forth first half as Milford and Strawn. As Strawn did, Jonesboro followed suit, with an explosive second half performance guiding the Eagles to an 83-56 win Saturday evening.

Tioga scored the first touchdown of the game, as Cade Kimbrell punched it in from five yards out. With the two-point kick failing however, Jonesboro was able to take the lead 19 seconds later on a 23-yard run by Wyatt Young, who then added on to the lead with a nine-yard rush in the quarter’s final minute.

Blake Wood/TexasHSFootball

The Bulldogs regained the lead to begin the second quarter on a quick pair of touchdowns of their own, including a big 67-yard rush by Kaleb Scott on the first play from scrimmage. The first half closed with a scoring frenzy, as five touchdowns were recorded in the final two minutes of the second quarter, with an 18-yard pick six by Young proving to be the difference maker at the half, and possibly turning the tide in the game as a whole.

“Coach [Cody] Patton and his group of kids scratched and clawed, showed us some new things they hadn’t shown,” Jonesboro coach Eddie Gallegos said. “They threw the ball exceptionally well and presented a lot of problems for us.”

The two teams continued trading scores up until the final minute of the game, but Tioga wasn’t able to keep the game as tight as it was in the first half. Young added three touchdowns in the second half, with Ethan Lilljedahl tallying 34 and six-yard rushing scores as well.

“Like a lot of teams, our offense started a little slow this season,” Gallegos noted. “But they’ve gotten stronger each week and certainly through the playoffs. Right now I feel like it’s our strength.”

Jonesboro won this game in large part due to their impressive rushing attack, led by Young’s 168 yards and seven touchdowns.

“He’s a player for us. One of our senior leaders, a great kid on top of being a great player for us,” boasted the coach. “He plays hard and plays smart, and that showed, running the ball and playing defense as well.”

“Couldn’t do it without the linemen in front of me,” noted Young with humility. “I was just running through the holes they created.”

Andy Sarmiento turned in a solid performance as well, rushing for 140 yards on nine carries with one touchdown, as well as tacking on eight two-point kicks.

Blake Wood/TexasHSFootball

Tioga’s offense performed well in the loss, with Scott’s 138 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries leading the ground game. Kimbrell recorded 111 yards on 20 carries with four scores — as well as a 71-yard kickoff return for a touchdown — while Marshall Lease completed nine passes for 163 yards and a touchdown.

With Borden County winning their state semifinal game, a rematch in Division I is set for AT&T Stadium in two weeks.

“We’re going to enjoy tonight, and know we have a big challenge ahead of us with a very good Borden County team,” said Gallegos. “Coach [Trey] Richey and his staff do a good job over there. We’ll enjoy tonight, and get back to work on Monday.”

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