To start its district schedule, DeRidder would have to take on one of the best passing attacks in the area, and with injuries piled up for the Dragons, they needed some things to bounce their way.

DeRidder had a chance late to pull ahead for a come-from-behind win but came up just short as it fell to Tioga 42-39 Friday night at home.

"I'm very, very proud of them," DeRidder head coach Brad Parmley said. "They showed a lot of grit and a lot of toughness. I'm very proud of them. We have a lot of injuries right now and have guys playing in some spots they don't usually play in. They've battled and never quit. It's tough to come out on the wrong end of that one."

On 4th and 11 with 2:07 remaining in the game and down 42-31, DeRidder quarterback KJ Gooden hit wide receiver Ashton Broussard for a 24-yard touchdown to pull the Dragons within a score.

The Dragons recovered the ensuing onside kick, but were unable to get the ball in the end zone as they fell to 4-3 on the year.

Gooden started at quarterback in place of Lane Armer, who missed the game with a knee injury, and the sophomore responded with a big game. Gooden went 22-for-36 through the air for 285 yards and four touchdowns, along with 71 yards rushing on 23 carries.

"What KJ does well is being KJ," Parmley said. "That's what we told him this week. We told him to just be you. He's going to be a really good football player.

"We didn't want to put it all on his back. We have a lot of guys that can run it. It worked a little bit. He was able to get into the rhythm of the game before we asked him to do a whole lot. Once we did, he made plays."

The Dragons fell behind 13-0 at the end of the first quarter but tied it up at 13 with a 23-yard reception by Greg Woodard with 5:17 to play in the half.

"We needed a spark," Parmley said. "Once this team catches a spark, we catch fire pretty quick. Once we catch fire, our kids tend to lock on to momentum and ride it."

Woodard had a big game with yards after the catch, racking up 171 receiving yards on 10 catches for a pair of touchdowns.

"It's a cliche, but great players make great plays in big ball games," Parmley said. "Greg is a great player. He's a dynamic player with the ball in his hands."

DeRidder trailed 20-19 at the half, but Tioga pushed its lead to 27-19 midway through the third quarter on a 26-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Blake McGehee to Tray'von Culburt.

McGehee, a sophomore, was 13-for-22 for 252 yards and three touchdowns.

"We had some coverage busts, and you can't do that against the talent that they have," Parmley said. "Their skill guys on offense are talented, and we weren't in the right spots a couple of times. As coaches, we have to do a better job. I'm proud of our defense. They gave up some big plays tonight, but they kept fighting and made big plays when we needed them."

After a 5-yard touchdown run by Gooden with 6:42 left in the game, McGehee found a wide open Kenneth Ravare for an 82-yard touchdown to extend the lead.

The Dragons are back in action next week against rival Leesville at Wampus Cat Stadium.