Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: WR/DB Ja’Taveon Green turns QB, helps Garland defeat South Garland for 14th-straight district win
GARLAND — With its hopes for a district title on the line and its starting quarterback on the sidelines Friday, Garland turned to Ja’Taveon Green. The senior, normally a receiver and defensive back, had taken only a few snaps this season and hadn’t completed a pass.
But in a 34-25 victory over South Garland, the fleet-footed Green made his biggest plays with his arm, throwing two touchdown passes and another pass to set up a score.
“He can throw the ball a little better than people think,” Garland coach Jeff Jordan said. “We thought we could catch them off guard.”
Green caught a lot of people off guard as he completed 5 of 6 for 143 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 22 times for 124 yards and two scores as Garland (4-4, 4-0 in District 11-5A) won its 14th straight district game.
“It felt pretty good. I felt comfortable,” Green said. “I just had to go out there and do it for the team.”
Green started in place of junior quarterback V.J. Gates, who could return from injury next week. Green could offer another threat at quarterback for the Owls, who took a 27-6 lead early in the third quarter on Green’s 48-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Evans.
South Garland (6-3, 4-1), which had won five straight games, battled back with two touchdowns in the third quarter to cut the lead to 27-19. But on the first drive of the fourth quarter, Green broke off runs of 15 and 22 yards to get Garland past midfield. He then made another big pass, converting a third-and-8 with a 26-yard throw to Vinson Cobb that took the ball to the 4-yard line.
Garland’s E’Lon Green scored two plays later to expand the lead to 34-19. South Garland trimmed it to 34-25 with 2:48 left, and although the two-point conversion attempt failed, South Garland still had hope after Jameon Love recovered the onside kick.
South Garland quarterback Trey Porter had to leave the game with an injury and was replaced by Isaiah Harris. Garland’s Cobb, now at defensive back, intercepted a Harris pass to end South Garland’s last drive.
Garland jumped out to a 21-6 lead by scoring on its first three possessions, but South Garland helped dig its own hole. After Garland scored in the first two minutes on a 51-yard pass from Green to DraShane Glass, South Garland fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Green scored from 4 yards out for a 14-0 lead.
With 5:15 left in the first quarter, the Owls were up 14-0 and South Garland still hadn’t run a play. Marquel McNac, the leading area rusher in Class 5A, scored on a 58-yard run to get South Garland on the board, but he didn’t break any more big runs. He finished with 114 yards on 22 carries.
Garland’s fourth straight victory continued a dramatic reversal from its 0-4 start. The Owls played tough opponents in nondistrict, but they’re also a very different team now — whether Green or Gates is at quarterback.
“We had a lot of growing up to do,” Jordan said. “We’re still growing up, but we’re playing well. We’re figuring things out.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon.