Trai Gardner, Onterio Thompson’s 8 Combined TDs Help Power Tigers’ Surge to 2A State Title Stage

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Photo: Blake Dunbar/TexasHSFootball

CROCKETT, Texas — Tenaha looked like a team on a mission and with a state title on its mind Thursday night at Monte Jack Driskell Stadium. The Tigers scored at will and their defense looked tough en route to a 60-22 thrashing of Burton in the Class 2A Division II state semifinal.

It looked like the Trai Gardner show through the first half and to start the third quarter. The Tenaha senior had a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown and a 71-yard reception for another score to give the Tigers a 20-0 advantage in the first 12 minutes of the game.

Tenaha took a 20-10 lead into halftime and Gardner took the second half kickoff back 70 yards for an apparent score — but a holding call erased the touchdown. Gardner, however, scored on a 65-yard run on the first play from scrimmage to give the Tigers a 26-10 lead.

Blake Dunbar/TexasHSFootball


Gardner found the end zone again on Tenaha’s next possession when C.J. Horn found him striding down the field for a 53-yard score.

Not to be outdone, Tenaha senior running back Onterio Thompson scored on runs of 56, 30 and 73 yards to put Tenaha ahead, 53-16, early in the fourth quarter. Thompson scored the game’s first touchdown on a 4-yard run in the first quarter to give him four touchdowns on the night and 34 for the season.

Tenaha was so dominant on offense throughout the game that its defense spent most of the night on the field. The Tigers only ran eight offensive plays in the first quarter and nine in the second. They scored five touchdowns on their first nine offensive plays in the third quarter to put away the game.

Although Burton was known this season for its high-scoring ways, the Tenaha defense kept the Panthers in check all night.

Gardner had a second interception in the game when he raced across the end zone to snare a ball out of the air. Tavoris Giles added an interception and the Tigers defense was bolstered by big plays from Christian Ashton and Trenton Soto.

Blake Dunbar/TexasHSFootball

Burton scored 40 points or more in nine of their games this season. But Tenaha, which has only given up 123 points in 15 games, held Burton scoreless in the first quarter. Tenaha has allowed just eight points in the first quarter all season.

Tenaha (15-0), the top-ranked team in Class 2A, advances to the Division II state championship next week to face No. 3 Muenster, which knocked off Wellington, 31-28, in the other semifinal Thursday. Kickoff will be at 11 a.m. at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Burton ends its season with a 13-2 record.

Tenaha last played Muenster in 2015 when the Hornets won, 33-16, on the way to a state runner-up finish to Bremond. Muenster also enters the game with a 15-0 record.

Tenaha last played for a state championship in 2012 but fell to Munday.

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