TEXARKANA — It's not Halloween yet, but Sulphur Springs was tricked and treated rudely Friday night.
Sulphur Springs fell 43-7 to Texas High as Grim Park turned into a house of horrors with the Tigers taking advantage of every mistake made by the visiting Wildcats.
Texas High took the win to advance to 6-1 overall, 2-0 in district. The win increased the Tigers grip on 14-4A lead.
The loss was costly for the Wildcats as they dropped to 4-3, 1-1. Gone is the possibility of Sulphur Springs repeating as 14-4A champions.
"It was a poor performance in every aspect, especially offensively," said Greg Owens, Sulphur Springs head football coach. "Three turnovers in the first half. We couldn't run around on the sloppy field. We didn’t perform well. They (Texas High) just took us to the woodshed."
Texas High came into the game as the No. 1 defense in 14-4A. They proved it Friday night. Sulphur Springs came into the game riding a three-game winning streak. During that stretch, they were cruising and scoring 61 points a game. All that stopped Friday in Texarkana as the Tigers controlled the line of scrimmage. Texas High shut out Sulphur Springs for the first half. Only a hard-fought, determined Willy Ivery touchdown in the third quarter, prevented the Wildcats from being blanked for the night.
For the night, Ivery was held to 72 yards a week after scoring seven times and rolling up more than 300 all-purpose yards. Larry Pryor only managed 33 yards passing on 10 completions. The Wildcats had 128 total yards, compared to their average of 480 yards per game before Friday night.
Tre Walker of Texas High was a one-man wrecking crew. Walker, was really a runner, scoring on runs of 17, 11, 6, 4 and 12 yards in the rout over Sulphur Springs. He had 194 total yards on a heavy workload of 34 carries. The orange squad had 274 total yards in the big win.
The game started innocently enough with the Wildcats taking the opening kickoff and beginning the first possession from their own 26-yard line. Pryor was stopped on the first play. Then Ivery was held to a two-yard gain on second down. Pryor threw his first pass of the game and disaster struck. The pigskin was tipped into the air and fell into the arms of Marquan Daniels. The Wildcats were victims of a turnover just a couple of minutes into the game.
Texas High took over and had a drive composed mostly of Walker runs. Walker took the first handoff for the initial five carries of the night for Texas High. The Tigers rode his fleet feet from 36 of Sulphur Springs to inside the 10-yard line. The drive stalled out as quarterback Dakota Hunter missed on a third and seven pass. Mantas Urienezius connected for the first points of the game, a 23-yard field goal. The Tigers were up 3-0 with 7:11 still to play in the opening frame.
Sulphur Springs' next possession was fruitless as well. The Wildcats managed just two yards on three plays forcing a Ryan Watson punt.
The Tigers took over and drove from near midfield for the first touchdown of the game. The drive had little suspense with Walker running three times. Texas High used passes from Hunter to Jarion Anderson to move even closer. The capping play was a 17-yard touchdown scamper by Walker. The try for an extra point failed, but Texas High was ahead 9-0.
Sulphur Springs walked another ladder with more bad luck on their next try. The Tigers opted for a short kick returned by Alex Burney. Pryor's third pass of the game was complete to C.J. Stephens for a short gain, the Tigers stripped the ball forcing a turnover. Texas High took over at the 44 of Sulphur Springs with 2:12 left in the first quarter.
The Sulphur Springs defense forced a punt by Hunter which was downed at four-yard line. The Wildcats, some 96-yards from pay dirt, took over and tried to make the most of bad field position on the slick field. The second quarter began with the Wildcats making another turnover, this time the ball popped out on a Pryor run. Set up near the goal line, the Tigers were smelling fresh meat. Texas High scored on the next play, Walker raced over from 11-yards out. The kick was good and now it was time for Sulphur Springs fans to worry, down 16-0 in hostile territory.
On the next possession Sulphur Springs had limited success as Ivery found running holes for gains of 14 and 17 yards. Pryor threw to Dillon Carpenter for a short gain and tossed another short pass to Burney. The drive reached the 46 where the Texas High defense stiffened and held Sulphur Springs on downs.
With the short field to cover, the Tigers went back to their bread and butter play — handoffs to Walker. The 5-8 senior speedster carried the ball on five straight plays. The drive ended with Walker scoring on a six-yard run through the Wildcat defense for a touchdown. The extra point failed, but the home fans were happy with the orange Tigers holding a 22-0 advantage.
The next time Sulphur Springs got the ball, it was Pryor being pounded by the Tiger defense. Pryor was sacked for an eight yard loss. Pryor picked up some of the yardage with a tough run. On a third and six, Pryor's pass fell incomplete. The Wildcats rolled the dice and went for the first down on fourth and six from their own 36 and failed.
Texas High was excited by the point blank field position and used two minutes scoring. Walker closed out the possession with a four-yard run untouched to the end zone. The first half ended with Sulphur Springs looking for answers down 29--0.
The third period saw Texas High start using some reserve players in the one-sided game.
Backup quarterback Clete Norton led a 54-yard scoring drive. Walker was still in the game and got his final touchdown of the game on a 12-yard sweep.
The Wildcats got a rare turnover from Texas High to set up their only touchdown of the game.
From the 49-yard line, Ivery ran for a nine-yard gain. Pryor had a running burst for a 28-yard gain and a first down. Pryor went to the passing game and connected with Burney for a 16-yard pass and another first down. With a first and goal from the five, a determined Ivery raced outside, breaking two tackles on the way to the end zone for the touchdown. Watson's extra point was too little, too late. It cut the Texas High lead to 36-7.
The final score came with 9:13 left in the game when Norton scored on a 1-yard run. The extra point was good and made the final 43-7.
The Tigers continued their dominance of the Wildcats in Texarkana. Sulphur Springs has not tasted victory in the border city since 1998.
"We didn't do a very good job tackling. We got whipped at the line," Owens said. "The bottom line was our offense not performing. We can't cut and juke on a field like this. They negated our quickness. We just did not make the plays. Everything Texas High needed to do, they did. They ate up the clock. The moved the ball and punched it down the field. Defensively, they just shut us down. A couple of times, things started going our way. We got a little rhythm and we had turnovers. We stalled out and did not convert. Texas High’s game plan tonight was perfect, except for a fumble. We have to regroup and get ready for next week. It's all we can do."
The Wildcats host Hallsville Oct. 25 at Gerald Prim Stadium.
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