Entering the contest with a 0-2 mark, the Tomcats took advantage of five Choctaw turnovers on Saturday to run away with the contest, winning in convincing fashion 46-26.
Afterwards, Dyer County head coach Barry Kendall was stunned at the final, but remained optimistic about getting things back on track through hard work and dedication to getting better.
"Right now I don't know what happened," said Kendall. "We didn't take care of the ball very well and they took advantage of that. When we didn't turn it over they stopped us and basically lit us up, so my hats off to Haywood. We're going to keep working to figure this thing out because I believe in my guys."
On Friday night before the delay, the Choctaws needed just two plays to score their first touchdown of the game, a 6-yard run up the middle by DC quarterback Tucker Cozort.
The 7-0 lead held until the lightning delay with 4:35 left in the opening quarter. Haywood faced a third and six scenario at the DC 11-yard line when play resumed. Two plays later, after a stellar 2-play stand by the Choctaw defense, the DC offense took over with momentum.
The feeling didn't last long.
On second and 15 at their own 9-yard line, the Choctaws attempted pass was complete, only it was Haywood's Darvis Jarvin with the completion and he waltzed into the end zone. With the PAT, the game was knotted at 7-7 with 3:48 left in the quarter.
After a three and out on the ensuing series by DC, the Tomcats pounced on the Choctaws when quarterback Bryce Young connected with receiver Martez Comage for a 74-yard touchdown strike, one that seemed to change the entire mood at Choctaw Stadium.
Things went from bad to worse for DC in the second quarter. Trailing 14-7, the Choctaws had moved into Tomcat territory at the 28-yard line before facing fourth and 10. Electing to go for it turned out to be a nightmare when the Tomcats came up with their second interception of the half.
Haywood's Justice Brown came up with the pick, turned on the jets and didn't stop until he reached the end zone on a 72-yard sprint. Matt Fererra'a PAT split the uprights for a 21-7 lead with 10:09 left in the half.
With DC quarterback Tucker Cozort rattled, Kendall made a change and went with sophomore Ryan Incrocci. Initially, the move seemed to inspire the Choctaws. Incrocci marched DC downfield before finding teammate Matthew Pease in the end zone on fourth down from the 8-yard line. The PAT failed, but the Tomcat lead was cut to 21-13 with 6:09 to go.
Unfortunately for DC, the 8-point deficit was as close as the local squad would come. The Tomcats added another score to go on top 27-19 with 2:42 left in the half.
The Choctaws continued to battle defensively however, evident when Caleb Reader intercepted Young on the 14-yard line and rumbled his way to pay dirt for DC's final score of the half.
The Tomcats added an additional score before the half when Young burst through the middle from one yard out to make it 33-19 at the break.
Neither team scored in the third quarter as DC struggled to find any offensive rhythm throughout the second half.
Haywood County added two scores in the fourth while DC's Incrocci darted in from one yard out for the Choctaws final score of the game.
The Choctaws were held to 213 yards of total offense compared to 373 for the Tomcats.
"We've got a lot of work to do next week to get ready for the next game. I thought defensively we didn't play terrible, but we have to go to work to figure out what we're doing offensively," added Kendall. "I love my team, but we're about to find out where the problems are and what we need to do to fix them."
The Choctaws travel to Munford on Friday to face the Cougars in a District 13AAA matchup beginning at 7 p.m.