PARIS — This game turned on defense.
Sure the running backs looked good in this season opener between Paris and Sulphur Springs.
But in the battle of Wildcats, it was a “Pick 6” by Sulphur Springs defender that switched the momentum.
Hiding back in man-to-man defense like a fox in a henhouse, Sulphur Springs defensive back Sharard Timmons was waiting. When the time was right he bolted in front of a Corbin Taylor pass and returned in 58 yards down the sidelines for a touchdown. Timmon’s big play came when the Wildcats were holding a slim 21-14 lead over the spirited Paris bunch. The extra point was missed, but the visitors had some breathing room taking a 27-14 lead following the play with 3:42 left in the third period.
“That play fired us and got us going. I saw some life in our team when Sharard took that pick to the house. It got everyone excited,” Sulphur Springs head coach Greg Owens. “ I thought our whole defense played very well.”
Timmons, a 6-1 junior DB, said he was watching his man and took advantage of the situation. “I just saw the route and stepped up and caught it. I knew I was going to score, especially after I got a good block from my man Keiston (Clayton). I wasn’t even running that fast. This was my first varsity touchdown and it felt great. I hope it is the first of many more touchdowns.”
Devion (The Thrill) Hill came up tough runs all night scoring on an 8-yarder in the first quarter and finishing off the game with a 40-yard gallop to the goal line. The 5-9 junior used all of his 170 pounds to power over Paris backs on several occasions as he ran 28 times for 242 yards. Nine times he runs of 10 or more yards in the game.
In the air the Sulphur Springs had some success with Colton Lee completing 12-of-28 passes for 174 yards, three interceptions and one score.
Aaron Ethridge paced Paris with 119 yards on 14 carries including a 53-scoring romp.
The game began easy enough for Sulphur Springs as they struck together five plays to cover 48 yards, scoring after a Paris turnovers. The scoring run came by the “thrillmaster” Hill. He sliced through the middle of the Paris defenders for the tally. The kick by Fernando Arellano was perfect and the visiting Wildcats were up 7-0 at the 9:55 as fans settled into their seats at Noyes Stadium.
Paris soon tied the game at 7-all as they also scored following a turnover. The homestanding Wildcats went 25 yards in just four plays. The scoring play, a 4-yard run by Tyrell Smith. The point after kick by Gabriel Vera was good and at the 6:22 mark of the first quarter the contest was deadlocked at 7-all.
Paris got the ball again as Dominique Mitchell picked off a Colton Lee pass, setting up his team at the 37-yard line of Sulphur Springs.
The Sulphur Springs defense allowed Paris to make it to the 29, but not an inch more. The Paris squad was held on downs.
Later in the first quarter, the Sulphur Springs team got back on the scoreboard as they put together a three play 53-yard drive. The capping play a 53-yard scoring pass from Lee to Bryant (Day Day) Jackson. The Arellano kick gave the visitors a 14-7 lead. A personal foul on Paris for jumping on the back of teammates trying to block the Arellano extra point was enforced on the kickoff. With the short field ahead following the 15-yard penalty Arellano boomed the ball through the end zone for a touchback.
Sulphur Springs drove down to the Paris 6-yard line, but the drive was halted when Lee was sacked and stripped off the ball with Kendall King making the big play for Paris.
Paris had some success, but had to turn the ball over after Jocko Spataro, Kedrick Dial LeMarcus Kendricks and Joe Scott.
Sulphur Springs had another scoring chance ended when Equettis Jenkins jumped high in the air to pick off a Lee pass. The first half ended with Sulphur Springs sputtering on offense, but holding a 14-7 lead over their 3A neighbors to the north.
In the third period, Paris had a three-play scoring drive with tied the game at 14-all. The touchdown came on a 42-yard slant pass from Taylor to Tevairus Williams.
The next time Sulphur Springs got the ball the Wildcats drove 67 yards in seven plays. In the drive Hill picked up 17 yards on three runs. On a fourth and 1 Lee picked up a low snap and rambled behind blockers over the goal for a touchdown. Again the Arellano kick was good and with 4:42 left in the third period, the Sulphur Springs team was up 21-14.
Then the Timmons interception help give Sulphur Springs a huge boost, as well as a 27-13 lead.
The speed of Paris’ Aaron Ethridge was on display as they drove for a score. Ethridge ran up the middle slicing with breakaway speed up the seam for a 53-yard scoring run. The extra point allowed the home team to reduce Sulphur Springs’ lead to 27-21.
Lee and Hill each had good runs as Sulphur Springs moved from their own 39 to inside the Paris 10-yard line. Lee’s next pass was picked off in the end zone by Mitchell and Paris took over at the 20-yard line.
Paris could not get a drive working against the staunch Sulphur Springs defense.
Hill closed out the scoring with a spinning run through traffic, the heads up runner covered up the ball with both hands and kept his legs churning as they rumbled in for the final touchdown of the game. Sulphur Springs notched their win of the 2009 season with the 33-21 victory.
Owens said he knew coming into the game that Paris was a good team and their speed would present problems.
“Our defense was phenomenal against Paris,” Owens said. “Our defense put some points on the board. We were struggling on offense. We could not get going on offense, due to penalties. We are not there by an stretch. We still have a lot of work to do. It was good to see Hill run well. Our passing game is not quite there. We had bad snaps, misreads, some of it is inexperience. We need to take care of the little things and get better. We have to face a very good Whitehouse team at our place Friday.”
NOTE: Whitehouse lost to Naamen Forest, 41-34 in the opener.
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