After struggling for much of the season, the Terrell defense has shown improvement over the past six quarters.
Now the Tigers need their offense to follow suit.
Terrell lacked enough big plays to support the defensive effort on Friday night during a 27-10 loss to West Mesquite at Memorial Stadium.
Terrell's defense held the Wranglers to 135 passing yards and a single touchdown through the air, both well below season averages for West Mesquite.
"Our defense came to play," said Terrell head coach Darrell Jordan. "They're a throwing team, but we took the throwing away from them and made them run the football."
It marked the sixth straight loss for the Tigers (2-6, 0-6), who remain winless in District 15-4A.
Kameron Miles provided a pair of big plays for the Wranglers (3-5, 3-3), scoring West Mesquite's first touchdown on a 55-yard run and the final touchdown on a 96-yard interception return.
Terrell has been limited to 10
or fewer points in five out of six
district games. In each of those games, the Tigers failed to score a first-half touchdown.
"The offense has struggled week in and week out," Jordan said. "All we can do is keep working."
Senior quarterback Shea South scored the lone touchdown for Terrell on a 46-yard run late in the third quarter, then left the game following the touchdown with an apparent head injury and did not return.
After trainers attended to him for several minutes on the bench, South was taken out of the stadium on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance while moving his extremities.
The injury caused Terrell to play the final 14 minutes with sophomore Cameron Smith as the only quarterback on the roster. Sophomore Quincy Jackson missed the game with a shoulder injury sustained during a loss to Corsicana last week.
On Friday, Terrell took a 3-0 lead into the second quarter after a 39-yard field goal by Josh Simmons, who is 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts this season.
Meanwhile, the Tigers held West Mesquite to 10 total yards in the first quarter, and did not allow a first down.
Even when the Wranglers drove inside the Terrell 20-yard line on the first possession of the second quarter, the Tiger defense forced a 28-yard field goal attempt, which was blocked.
Jordan said the defense was able to build off its second-half performance against Corsicana, when the Tigers allowed only 60 yards in the final two quarters.
"It's confidence, and it's also the preparation that the defensive staff has done," Jordan said. "You've got to give credit where credit is due."
West Mesquite got a spark on its next drive when Miles took a direct snap on a key fourth-down play and eluded Terrell tacklers for his 55-yard score.
With the Terrell offense stuck in neutral, managing minus-3 total yards on three second-quarter drives, the Wranglers struck again in the final two minutes of the half with a 61-yard drive capped by a 19-yard pass from Shateek Nasir to Wesley Keys that gave West Mesquite a 14-3 lead at the break.
South's scoring run, which trimmed the deficit to 14-10, capped an 80-yard drive that was completed entirely on running plays.
However, West Mesquite responded just over a minute later when Courtland Smith rumbled 58 yards for a touchdown one play after he caught a 20-yard pass from Nasir.
On the ensuing drive, the Tigers drove to the West Mesquite 20 after an errant Cameron Smith pass bounced off a Wrangler defender and popped into the air, where it was grabbed by Terrell receiver Kenyaski Nix near the sideline for a 41-yard gain.
But three plays later, Smith was hurried by a West Mesquite blitz and threw a pass into the arms of Miles at the 4-yard line. Miles zigzagged down the field to put the game away with his second touchdown.
Terrell, which played without leading receiver Sabian Hubbard, tallied just 85 yards passing on 12 completions.
The Tigers suffered a couple of other injuries in a physical game. Robert Lozoya and Carnell Horn were banged up on consecutive plays in the second quarter, and neither returned to the game.
Terrell will travel to Lancaster next week for its final road game of the season.