By DON WALLACE
News-Telegram Sports Editor
ROCKWALL — In some games, it's not what you do, but what you don’t do.
Sulphur Springs had several good possessions, but had trouble cashing them in for touchdowns as the Wildcats fell 33-21 to Rockwall-Heath in the football season opener for both clubs.
The crowd at Wilkerson-Sanders had to be patient in this affair with starting time pushed back to 8 p.m., instead of 7:30 p.m. due to lightning in the area.
Once the game started, it play out like a typical first game, full of mistakes and penalties. Due to the rain passing through the area, the game was also played under humid and sticky conditions. Several times trainers were called and the game was stopped due to cramping muscles on both teams. The contest was not over until 10:52 p.m. due to the late start.
Sulphur Springs shot themselves in the foot on offense, able to score just three times in nine possessions. They got just 21 points from 62 plays and almost 400 yards of total offense. Getting flagged 10 times did not help either.
Tyler Rosamond in his first varsity game after coming off a broken hand, ran well. The tenacious 165-pounder ran like a fullback over and through the Hawks defense for 155 yards on 24 carries, scoring twice.
Quarterback Larry Pryor completed 16 of 28 passes for 121 yards. Top receiver was Dillon Carpenter with seven grabs for 85 yards.
Christian Jackson paced the Sulphur Springs defense with 12 tackles.
"Poor execution on offense, then when Heath had the ball - they rammed it down our throats," said Greg Owens, Sulphur Springs head football coach. "We blew coverages on the back end on defense, we had poor tackling. Penalties killed us at times. It was all of the above."
Owens said he would not say the Wildcats had a came of opening night jitters due to the heavy senior make up of the team.
"We have over 20 seniors, I'm not going to chalk it (the loss) up to inexperience," Owens said. "We have to focus and do what it takes to win the game. We didn't do that. Heath did and put it in the end zone. Congrats to Mickey (Mickey Moss, Heath head football coach) he has a pretty good football team."
Owens said, "We didn't focus and maybe getting kicked in the teeth will make us realize we have to get focused and work hard to get better every single day."
Neither team was able to score on their first possession. Heath took the opening kickoff and moved from their 31 to 29 of the Wildcats before the drive ended with 6:11 left on the first quarter clock.
Sulphur Springs sputtered early with four plays just netted two yards before the Wildcats turned the ball back over the Hawks. The possession just took two minutes off the game clock.
Heath's next try was successful as they strung together a drive and cover 47-yards to paydirt on eight snaps. Key plays were runs by Rico Henderson and short passes by Jordan Hoy. The scoring play and first touchdown of the year for the Hawks came on a 17-yard toss from Hoy to Chandler Rashbrook. The kick failed and the Hawks had to settle for a 6-0 lead with 2:26 left in the opening frame.
Sulphur Springs got the ball back and for the remainder of the first period executed well on offense. Brawny Tyler Rosamond power run for good yardage. Quarterback Larry Pryor had completions to three different receivers - Tanner Ramirez, Jaylon Hawkins and Dillon Carpenter to move the chains. The second period start with Sulphur Springs at the 14-yard line of the Hawks. Then penalties for false start and illegal motion halted the drive. The Wildcats faced a fourth and 12 from the 24 of Rockwall, Pryor fumbled as he was tackled for an 11-yard loss and the ball went over to Heath.
Heath made the most of their chances. Henderson ran for seven yards. Then the Hawks went to the sky with Hoy connecting with Dean Cline for a 30-yard gain. Henderson faked up the middle and cut outside for a gain of 18, moving the ball to the shadow of the goalpost at the 6-yard line. On the next play, Henderson hit the line and backed into the end zone for the second Hawks’ touchdown. The extra point gave the home team a 13-0 margin with 10:12 left before intermission.
Sulphur Springs was unable to score the next time they had the ball, thanks more to their own miscues than the Heath defense. A holding call and two incomplete passes by Pryor caused the drive to stall at the 30 of Rockwall.
The Wildcats got the ball back on a fumble recovery by Jaylon Mitchell at the 42 of Rockwall with 6:32 remaining in the second frame.
Hawkins was limited to short yardage as he came in the game at running back. Pryor found Carpenter open for a 13-yard gain. Then Pryor took off for another first down run. Rosamond capped the drive with a three-yard burst up the middle for a touchdown. Parker Aguilar raced over the two-point conversion to make it a 13-8 game.
Heath answered immediately with a quick drive of just two plays. Hoy went back to Chandler Rashbrook for a 49-yard scoring connection. The lead for the red and black team was now 19-8.
Sulphur Springs started the next drive with a Pryor to Carpenter pass for 12-yards and a first down. Rosamond loosened up the defense with several thundering runs in the middle. Pryor kept the ball on a third and 11 from the 39 of Rockwall and cut behind good blocks and rumbled through defenders to the end zone. Ramirez tacked on the extra point to allow the Wildcats to reduce the Hawks' margin to 19-15.
Both teams had turnovers in the final two minutes of the first half. The bands took the field with Heath holding onto the four point lead.
The third period had lots of action, but no points.
Sulphur Springs had 19 plays on offense.
Heath took over at their own 7-yard line after the Wildcats were unable to punch the ball in. Henderson was a work horse had seven carries in the next stretch, but the third period ended with the Hawks clinging to the 19-15 advantage.
In the first seconds of the final frame, Heath finally ended the drive with Hoy scoring on a run. The touchdown was signalled after a delay, the officials then ruled the quarterback had broken the goal line and awarded the score. The kick by Shalabi again was true and Heath had some breathing room now up 26-15.
But Sulphur Springs was not conceding anything. The Wildcats put together a scoring drive that took seven and a half minutes and covered 74 yards in 13 plays. Rosamond picked up 21 yards on four carries in the possession, including the final two-yards for the touchdown. The two point conversion try failed, but the Wildcats had sliced the Heath lead to 26-21 with 7:10 remaining.
A penalty on Sulphur Springs during the kickoff set the Hawks up at their 41-yard line. This time the team ate up the clock and ran the ball on eight consecutive plays. The scoring play was a Henderson run for 1-yard out. The extra point was good by Shalabi and Heath went up to stay 33-21.
Sulphur Springs tried to score late. But the Wildcats were hampered again by penalties and the game ended with Heath taking the 12 point win.
The Wildcats, now 0-1, must regroup for their home opener Friday against Sherman.
The Bearcats will come into Gerald Prim Stadium also with an 0-1 record after losing their opener.
Sherman lost in a Thursday game 63-0 to Frisco Lone Star.
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