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Posted on Sun, Nov. 28, 2004
 
 I M A G E S 
Now a third baseman for the Fort Worth Cats, Terence Green was unstoppable in Plano East's ill-fated comeback in 1994.
STAR-TELEGRAM/RON T. ENNIS
Now a third baseman for the Fort Worth Cats, Terence Green was unstoppable in Plano East's ill-fated comeback in 1994.
The call on the return
The call on the return

PLAY IT AGAIN


On the 10th anniversary of the most extraordinary high school game ever, Plano East's amazing rise and fall -- in 3 minutes -- is still unforgettable



Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Good gosh o'mighty, Joe Friday, has it been 10 years already?

Friday marked the 10th anniversary of one of the most memorable high school football games ever, the Plano East-Tyler John Tyler playoff game at Texas Stadium.

From Plano East's unforeseeable comeback -- scoring 27 points in 2 minutes, 12 seconds -- to John Tyler's unbelievable answer -- a game-winning 97-yard kickoff return with 11 seconds remaining -- to the announcers' unabashedly homer calls -- "I want to throw up!" -- the game remains unforgettable.

"It's still a huge game, and people talk about it all the time," said Scott Phillips, the then-Plano East coach who now is at Odessa High. "I can seldom go anywhere where I'm not associated with that game."

"It's one of those games that is always going to be remembered," said Dallas Carter coach Allen Wilson, John Tyler's coach that day. "It's one of those games people like to talk about."

A two-DVD 10th anniversary retrospective is stoking recollections of the game that won ESPN's 1995 ESPY award as Showstopper of the Year.

"We've been doing a lot of radio and TV appearances across the country," said Eddy Clinton, the game's play-by-play announcer for Plano TeleCable. "Everybody still remembers it."

For those who have slipped out of the game's narrowing spotlight over the past decade, the 10th anniversary has sparked another round of conversations and interview requests.

One is Fort Worth Cats third baseman Terence Green.

"It's kind of funny that most people don't know that I went to Plano East and was a part of the game," Green said. "Even one of our head guys in the Cats' front office, right before I came over to the Cats, didn't know I was that Terence Green."

For Green, most of the recognition from the game ended after about two or three years. Green played football and baseball at, of all places, Tyler Junior College for two years before coming to Fort Worth to play baseball at Texas Wesleyan.

Even today on the John Tyler campus, where 1994 star Marc Broyles teaches and coaches, the game isn't discussed much.

"We don't really talk about it," Broyles said. "It just doesn't come up that often anymore."

But interest continues around the country, said longtime East Texas television and radio broadcaster David Smoak.

"I'm amazed at how when I say I'm from Tyler, two things come to people's minds," Smoak said. "It used to be only Earl Campbell. But now, seven out of 10 times when I mention I'm from Tyler, someone says, 'That's that football team that won that crazy game.' "

It was a crazy game.

And, says Clinton, "It was a great football game over and above the comeback."

Both teams were 12-0 entering the third-round playoff contest. Plano East, ranked 12th in one national poll, trailed 27-17 after a John Tyler field goal with about eight minutes remaining.

Plano East, with its run-based veer offense, marched steadily to the Lions' 9. But on first-and-goal, Broyles, the Lions' nose guard and fullback, stripped Panthers quarterback Jeff Whitley of the ball and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown and a 34-17 lead.

On the Panthers' fourth play of their next possession, John Tyler's David Warren returned another fumble 36 yards for a touchdown and a 41-17 lead with 3:03 left.

Before the following kickoff, Clinton summarized the two defensive touchdowns by saying, "Well, the weirdest, the weirdest occurrences you've ever seen."

If he only had known what was about to happen.

Clinton and his two broadcast partners -- mailman/down-home color commentator Denny Garver and Lake Highlands coach Mike Zoffuto, whose team would play the game's winner the following week -- began wrapping up Plano East's season.

But then the comeback began, and as the unimaginable unfolded, the announcers' enthusiasm increased.

With Green kicking, the Panthers recovered three consecutive onside kicks. After the third kick, Garver screamed, "Good gosh o'mighty, Joe Friday! Somebody give me something! I'm gonna die!"

Green, in what Clinton now calls the best individual performance he has witnessed, also caught four passes for 112 yards and Plano East's first touchdown in the final three minutes. Whitley threw four touchdown passes during the comeback, including the go-ahead score with 24 seconds left.

Then the unbelievable happened.

Smoak, then working for a television station, received a cellphone call from his cameraman on the sideline. Smoak told him to record postgame reactions.

Then, Smoak remembers, John Tyler return man Roderick Dunn turned to his cameraman and also suggested he keep filming. On the Lions' sideline, quarterback Morris Anderson told Wilson: "Don't worry, Coach. We've got this."

"I looked over at another coach," Wilson recalled, "and said, 'I wonder what he's been smoking?' "

Phillips decided to call for a pooch kick because of John Tyler's speed, but changed his mind after consulting with his assistant coaches. On three previous deep kickoffs, the Lions had totaled 51 return yards.

Wilson expected another onside kick and positioned only two players deep, at the Lions' 20. Dunn made a heady play just to anticipate the deep kick and hurriedly retreat into position to catch the ball in the air.

Dunn returned Green's kick 97 yards and ran through the end zone and into the Texas Stadium tunnel as Zoffuto lamented: "I don't believe it. God bless those kids. I am sick! I want to throw up! Oh, my gosh."

Just like Dunn when he reached the end zone, John Tyler kept going. The Lions won three more games -- against Zoffuto's Lake Highlands team, Arlington and Austin Westlake -- to claim the Class 5A Division II state championship.

Plano East's players left doubly stunned from a game they could not win that became a game they should not have lost.

Even today, after 10 years, Green said one memory stands out most from one of the most memorable high school football games ever.

"We lost," he said.

IN THE KNOW

Tyler John Tyler 48, Plano East 44


John Tyler714324--48
Plano East77327--44

JT--Taafee Hines 22 run (Nicholas Hernandez kick)

PE--Robert Woods 10 run (Kenny Reed kick)

PE--Rico Hall 27 run (Reed kick)

JT--Michael Price 8 run (Hernandez kick)

JT--David Warren 13 pass from Morris Anderson (Hernandez kick)

JT--Hernandez 21 FG

PE--Reed 37 FG

JT--Hernandez 26 FG

JT--Marc Broyles 90 fumble return (Hernandez kick)

JT--Warren 36 fumble return (Hernandez kick)

PE--Terence Green 21 pass from Jeff Whitley (pass failed)

PE--Jonathan Braddick 5 pass from Whitley (Woods pass from Whitley)

PE--Braddick 6 pass from Whitley (run failed)

PE--Woods 22 pass from Whitley (Reed kick)

JT--Roderick Dunn 97 kickoff return (Hernandez kick)

Team statistics


JTPE
First downs1722
Rushes-yards41-22231-178
Passing yards109267
Passes6-9-114-27-1
Punts-avg.1-311-37
Fumbles-lost4-34-3
Penalties-yards7-602-20

See it again

A two-DVD retrospective of the game is available for $19.95 plus shipping and handling. Call (800) 628-1124 or visit www.tele-print.com.

The comeback

Tyler John Tyler took a 27-17 lead midway through the fourth quarter on a field goal. Plano East answered with a long drive to the Lions' 9-yard line. Then things quickly changed. John Tyler's Marc Broyles returned a fumble 90 yards for a touchdown, and four plays later David Warren returned a fumble 36 yards to give John Tyler a 41-17 lead with 3:03 remaining. That's when the comeback began:

41-23, 2:36: Down 24 points, Plano East coach Scott Phillips inserts two substitute running backs. Backup Kevin Coit breaks a 49-yard run on the first play, then quarterback Jeff Whitley hits Terence Green with a 21-yard touchdown pass. The drive: two plays, 70 yards.

The ensuing kickoff: A John Tyler player fields the onside kick but as he starts to run, the ball is stripped and Plano East recovers at John Tyler's 44. Phillips now says game film showed his team was offside on the kick.

41-31, 1:29: Green makes a leaping, one-handed catch for 19 yards on the first play, and Coit follows with a 15-yard catch and run to the John Tyler 10. The Panthers score on fourth down with a 5-yard pass from Whitley to tight end Jonathan Braddick. The drive: six plays, 44 yards.

The ensuing kickoff: Green's onside kick doesn't appear to have traveled the necessary 10 yards, but John Tyler's Roderick Dunn touches the ball and Plano East recovers at its 45.

41-37, :56: Three consecutive incompletions to start the drive set up a fourth-and-10. Green catches a middle screen, breaks three tackles and carries two defenders out of bounds at the John Tyler 11. After an incomplete pass, Braddick scores on a 6-yard reception. The drive: six plays, 55 yards.

The ensuing kickoff: The onside kick deflects off Dunn's hands again, and Plano East grabs the ball at midfield.

44-41, :24: After Whitley's first pass for Green is almost intercepted, Green takes a screen pass 28 yards. On the next play, Robert Woods catches a pass in the left flat and races untouched into the end zone for a 22-yard go-ahead score. The drive: three plays, 50 yards.

48-44, :11: Green kicks deep with John Tyler set up for an onside kick. Dunn retreats to catch the ball at the 3. He starts up the left hash mark, breaks to the left, avoids one player's lunging arm-tackle attempt at the John Tyler 25, then hits the left sideline and races untouched the rest of the way into the tunnel behind the end zone.

The finish: A touchback gives Plano East the ball at its 20. A hook-and-lateral pass to Green is incomplete. On the final play, John Tyler quarterback/defensive back Morris Anderson intercepts at the Lions' 45 and runs out the clock for a 48-44 win.

-- David Thomas


David Thomas, (817) 390-7760 dthomas@star-telegram.com

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