The Byrd Yellow Jackets, ranked 10th in the state in Class 5A, got a boost Thursday night with the return of quarterback Deuce Caston and running back Tysen Hardman from injuries.
The senior duo did not disappoint.
Caston, who missed the previous two games with a high ankle sprain, threw two touchdown passes in a half of play, while Hardman, returning after a four-game absence due to a hip injury, added a pair of rushing scores as the Yellow Jackets beat the Green Oaks Giants 41-12 in a nondistrict game at Lee Hedges Stadium.
“It was good to get those guys back in time for this home stretch against (fifth-ranked) Airline and (eighth-ranked) Evangel that we’ve got coming up,” said Byrd head coach Mike Suggs after his squad improved to 7-1 on the season. “Deuce can throw the ball really well, even though we don’t throw it a lot, and he does such a good job of running our offense. And getting Tysen Hardman back… was real good for us as well. He can really run the ball and gives us another weapon from the running back position. It was nice having them both back on the field.”
Suggs wasted no time letting his signal caller air it out. On the Jackets’ second offensive play from scrimmage, Caston heaved a perfect deep pass to speedy wideout Joey Jernigan, who outran the defender for a 64-yard touchdown. The pair hooked up for another long scoring pass late in the first half, bookending Hardman’s two touchdowns.
“We wanted to turn him loose early and let him take a shot downfield,” said Suggs of Caston. “He made some great throws (Thursday) night. We have confidence that he can make the throws this offense calls for. With him back, we can run our whole offense.”
Caston only attempted five passes, but completed four of them for 137 yards, an average of 34.25 yards per completion.
“It felt good to be back out there after not playing for the last few weeks,” said a beaming Caston. “I think it will help me getting some snaps (Thursday) night with those big games coming up. Those are the kinds of games you play for and get excited for.”
Green Oaks (3-5) had its three-game win streak snapped, but fought until the final horn. Senior quarterback Jaylon Carey threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, including a 97-yarder to Kenric Jackson on the game’s last play. He finished with 192 yards passing for the game.
Junior running back Bailey O’Byrne closed out the scoring for the Jackets with a pair of third-quarter touchdown runs.
“We had a few things that we’ll work on this week — fixable things like alignment penalties that we can correct pretty easily,” said Suggs of his preparation for next Friday’s District 1-5A showdown at Airline. “We will get to work and be ready to hopefully go out there and play our best game of the year.”
The Giants, meanwhile, have another formidable task ahead of them as they hit the road to face Devin White and the North Webster Knights next Friday.