The Tivy Antlers opened up the regular season with a home game against the Dripping Springs Tigers on Friday evening.
Prior to the game, fans could feel the excitement and energy building inside Antler Stadium. The Tivy band marched around the track, returning to a tradition that was common years ago, and played the fight song as they passed in front of a cheering home crowd.
The Golden Girls lined up, and the Tivy Antlers burst through the curtain onto the field.
The Antlers played their hearts out but fell short in the end. Dripping Springs defeated Tivy, 44-26.
GROCKI SCORES 1ST POINTS OF THE SEASON
Our Lady of the Hills transfer Stephen Grocki made his appearance early in the game. Tivy pieced together a terrific opening drive that was sealed by a 23-yard field goal by Grocki. Tivy would lead 3-0. He was perfect in the kicking game and had another field goal in the second half.
LUKE JOHNSTON SHINES DEFENSIVELY
Luke Johnston was flying all over the field for the Antlers. He had a pass deflection in the opening stanza but couldn’t hang on for an interception.
He stepped up in the fourth quarter, when he recorded the Antlers first pick six of the season. He intercepted Dripping Springs quarterback Austin Novosad and took it 32 yards into the end zone for a touchdown late in the game.
Johnston had an interception last season, but this was his first pick six in his young career. He admitted that the defense is rebuilding, but he thinks they are on the right path.
“Our offense has improved a lot from last year,” Johnston said. “Our defense is still getting there. Dripping Springs has a really good offense, and we’ll get better.”
JAKE LAYTON HAS SOLID NIGHT OFFENSIVELY
Jake Layton had a solid passing performance on the night. He did not have a touchdown under his belt, but he went 25-of-33 for 222 yards passing on the night. He also tucked the ball in and had 10 rushes for 71 yards. He did not have any interceptions.
FISHER MIDDLETON STANDOUT MOMENTS
Fisher Middleton made some spectacular plays for the Antlers throughout the evening.
He did score a 10-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter that accounted for one of Tivy’s three touchdowns on the night.
It was the hidden plays that really stood out tonight from his spectacular performance. He made a one-handed catch from Layton for a first down that kept Tivy moving down the field.
In the fourth quarter, he miraculously made a catch over the shoulder and bobbled it on his shoulder for a 7-yard gain that gave Tivy the ball 4 yards from the end zone. Tivy could not convert the drive into points.
Despite the amazing catch, Middleton was disappointed he couldn’t convert the reception into points.
“We need to get into the end zone when we are in the red zone,” Middleton said.
The red zone is when the offense is within 20 yards of the end zone, and this is where the offense needs to produce points.
One noticeable change was that Middleton was utilized in more pass plays compared to last season.
“I’ve always wanted to be a receiver,” Middleton said. “I love running back, but I always wanted to be a receiver.”
Tivy head coach David Jones was very proud of his team and the effort they displayed on the field Friday night.
“We had to fight back, and they never gave up,” Jones said. “I’m really proud of them. I thought their effort was great. I really did. We’ll win some football games with that kind of effort.”
Jones believes that his team is moving in the right direction.
“If we stay together, we’re going to be fine,” Jones said.
Tivy will have their first road trip of the season on Friday, Sept. 3. Tivy will travel 22 miles northeast on Highway 16 to take on Fredericksburg. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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