Written by SportsDayDFW.com
First Baptist weathers 327-yard Bryan Brazos running attack to capture TAPPS Division III title
CORSICANA — First Baptist won the TAPPS Division III state championship Monday night, jumping out to a three-touchdown lead before holding on for a 35-21 victory over Bryan Brazos Christian at Tiger Stadium.
First Baptist (14-0) got big plays on both sides of the ball to win the school’s first football state title.
“This was a great way to end our season, and these kids certainly deserved it,” First Baptist coach Jason Lovvorn said. “We had to wait an extra day or two for it because of the weather, but it was definitely worth it.”
First Baptist couldn’t have asked for a better start, scoring on its first three possessions for a 21-0 lead midway through second quarter.
Tailback Jaylin Nelson started the scoring in first quarter on a slick 20-yard run on First Baptist’s opening drive, and Isaiah Upshaw caught a 19-yard scoring pass from Max Partlo on the ensuing series.
Justen Tatum then capped an 11-play, 86-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to give First Baptist its three-touchdown lead with 10:04 left in the first half.
Meanwhile, the First Baptist defense came up with a pair of big plays to halt two promising drives by Brazos Christian.
One stop came on a fourth-and-1 at the First Baptist 14-yard line, as strong pressure forced an incomplete pass late in the first quarter. The other stop gave First Baptist another second-quarter touchdown, as Trae Hart recovered a fumble and raced 79 yards to the end zone for a 28-7 lead.
“Jaylin [Nelson] jarred the ball loose with a huge hit and Trae was right there to get it,” Lovvorn said. “As soon Trae got the ball, he had a 5-yard lead and we knew he was gone.”
However, Brazos Christian didn’t go away quietly, rallying for touchdowns in the second and third quarters to pull to within 28-21 with 3:44 left in the third quarter.
A First Baptist fumble inside the Brazos Christian 5 kept the score at 28-21 going to the fourth quarter, but the First Baptist defense again came up with another big play.
Facing fourth-and-5 from the First Baptist 19, D’Aundrey Bradley and Tatum stopped Brazos Christian’s Kenny Honnas for a 1-yard gain to turn the ball over on downs.
“Everyone talks about how good our offense is, but our defense has been just as good this year,” Lovvorn said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game against them, but our guys made big plays when we needed them.”
First Baptist put the game away with a final scoring drive, with Tatum ending a 14-play, 82-yard drive with a bulldozing 20-yard scoring run.
Tatum finished with a team-high 90 yards rushing, while Partlo was 20-of-29 passing for 206 yards.