The Class 3A, No. 10 Tigers (9-3) put together a complete game and outplayed top-ranked Piedmont (11-1) in every phase of a stunning 28-6 second-round playoff win.
Deshler, which has won eight straight after starting the season 1-3, never trailed. The closest the Bulldogs came was 7-6 with 5:19 left in the first half.
From there, the Tigers defense bent but didn’t break, denying Piedmont points on three trips inside the 25-yard line, and the offense used a balanced attack to score three unanswered touchdowns.
Deshler advances to a quarterfinal matchup with No. 4 Lauderdale County (10-1), which beat the Tigers 35-21 in Week 3.
Quarterback Justin Cantrell finished with 135 yards passing, including 96 while completing 5 of 6 attempts in the second half. He finished 6 of 10 overall with touchdown passes of 39 and 40 yards.
Terrance Byrd did most of the damage in the rushing game with a game-high 125 yards on 20 carries and touchdowns of 10 and 1 yards.
Deshler blocked a punt on an opponent’s opening possession for the second straight week, when freshman Tyreek Ricks got one at midfield. That set up a four-play, 41-yard drive capped by Byrd’s 10-yard scoring run.
Piedmont responded two drives later. Quarterback Cade Bradley found C.J. Savage for a 43-yard pass to the Tiger 20 before connecting with Jamie Major on an 18-yard touchdown pass.
The extra-point kick missed wide left, preserving a permanent Deshler lead.
Cantrell connected with Juakeem Fuqua for a 39-yard touchdown and a 14-6 halftime lead.
Piedmont threatened on three of its four second-half drives before backups ran out the clock on the Bulldogs’ final possession.
A second-half-opening 10-play, 58-yard drive to the Deshler 12 ended with a wide-left 29-yard field goal attempt.
The following Piedmont drive ended at the Deshler 24 when Tiger defensive end Chandler Lewis intercepted a screen pass.
The Bulldogs then drove 50 yards in nine plays to the Deshler 8, but the drive ended with a fourth-down pass that led the receiver out of bounds out the back of the end zone.
Meanwhile, Deshler converted 8 of 12 times on third or fourth down, including 3 of 4 on fourth.
Cantrell found tight end B.J. Bailey in a mismatch in man-to-man coverage for a 40-yard touchdown pass and a 21-6 third-quarter lead.
The Tigers capped the scoring on Byrd’s 1-yard touchdown run with 10:21 to play, set up by Fuqua’s 20-yard run to the 1.
Bradley led Piedmont with 177 yards and a touchdown on 10 of 19 passing with an interception. The Bulldogs managed 103 yards rushing on 29 carries.
Deshler’s DeAndre Acklin had a fumble recovery and a sack, while Taj Bates had a sack and forced fumble.