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Home News-Telegram Sports Picking Up A Win -- Interceptions spark SS Wildcats to 26-15 road victory

Picking Up A Win -- Interceptions spark SS Wildcats to 26-15 road victory

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WICHITA FALLS — A pick six is a thing of beauty. Especially if it seals the game.

For the second time in as many weeks the Sulphur Springs defense ignited a second half comeback win. In three games, the No. 10-state ranked Wildcats have outscored opponents, 27-0 in the key fourth period.

The ball-hawking Wildcats got second half interceptions from Sharard Timmons, Seth Harris and Keiston Clayton as Sulphur Springs took a 26-15 win over Wichita Falls Rider Friday night at Memorial Stadium. Harris scored on his interception for Sulphur Springs.

It was the second time in two years that a fierce football battle with Wichita Falls Rider was decided by a late interception.

In 2008 the classic ESPN2 battle in Gerald Prim Stadium was decided by a Sulphur Springs pick in the final minute of the game.

“That was fun,” Sulphur Springs defensive coordinator Matt Young said after the game. “Seth  had a nice play and Sharard got another pick and Keiston finished it off. It was a great effort on both sides of the ball, we played well in all phases of the game.”

The pick which turned the tide was the 44-yard interception return by Harris for a pick six and a key touchdown to seal the game.

“I didn’t even know I had the ball,” Harris said with a big smile. “I dropped back into coverage and the ball came to my hands. I was amazed and shocked. I started running, everybody said I was going slow, I felt like I was running fast. This is my first varsity touchdown and it felt great.”

Sophomore Justin Owens in his first varsity start at quarterback completed 18-of-27 passes for 199 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Owens was forced into action when senior starting quarterback Colton Lee was unable to play due a shoulder injury.

Deron Royster led the attack for Wichita Falls Rider with 13 carries for 104 yards. Royster had a 47-yard run which set up a touchdown.

The Wildcats managed a 12-7 halftime lead, but that advantage would quickly disappear.

Paul Mason had a nice return of the second half kickoff allowing the Raiders to set up shop at their own 41 to begin the third quarter. The stubborn Raiders drove in for a score on a half dozen plays. The key to the sparkling possession was a dipping, darting run by  the speedy Royster. The touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Mason Deerinwater. Mason raced over for the two point conversion and the Rider Raiders had a 15-12 lead with 9:34 left in the third frame.

The teams exchanged punts, but the next time the Wildcats got the ball they were determined to get the lead back, and they did.

Sulphur Springs went 57-yards in eight plays mixing passes with runs. The key plays included an Owens to Garrett Ferguson 14-yard pass. On the play, Owens sprinted out of the pocket, spotted Ferguson near the first down marker, Fergie, as Ferguson is known, caught the ball made a 90 degree cut tip-toeing down the sidelines for the gain. On a first down from the 25, Owens picked up most of the yards  needed on one throw, he found Bryant "Day Day" Jackson for a quick gainer down to the 3-yard line. Sulphur Springs then went to the "Tubow" formation with center Colby Suggs switching to quarterback. Suggs bolted for the end zone, lower his shoulder and rammed the ball into the end zone for an emphatic touchdown. Fernado Arellano booted the extra point and with 2:58 left on the third quarter clock, Sulphur Springs had rallied to take a 19-15 advantage.

The Riders drove from their own 36 to the Sulphur Springs' 28-yard line as quarterback Malcolm Carter threw for a gain to Gary Broussard. Royster had ripped off several impressive runs.

Action moved the fourth quarter with the Raiders driving toward what appeared to be the go ahead touchdown. On a fourth and 7 from the Sulphur Springs' 28, defensive back Sharard Timmons picked off a misplaced Carter aerial and returned 17 yards it to the 28 of the Wildcats.

The turnover gave Sulphur Springs some breathing room, but not for long. Their next drive fizzled after just three plays and soon it was punting time again.

Jackson was inserted at quarterback for Sulphur Springs series, but could get little going.

Poor punting by Wichita Falls' Rustin Morgan, kept the Wildcats in good field position.

The next time the Wildcats got the ball the combination of penalties for an illegal block and motion on the line forced long yardage situation. Owens was sacked for a 13-yard loss forcing another Timmons punt.

The Raiders took over at their own 20 after the ball trickled into the end zone.

Then the Sulphur Springs defense raised up to change the game. Following a 15-yard completion by Carter, the quarterback went back to the well too many times. Carter's next pass was intercepted. Harris stepped in front of a receiver and took the ball to the house for a touchdown. The 44-yard scoring play gave the lead and all the momentum to the visitors from Hopkins County.

Arellano added the extra point to seal the win as Sulphur Springs took a 26-15 lead with 1:17 left. The Sulphur Springs sideline went wild after the score.

The Raiders got the ball back with about a minute left and Rider was still trying to get on the scoreboard. Carter was rushed out of the pocket with the Sulphur Springs defenders pinning back their ears in the rush. Carter's deep pass was intercepted by Clayton of the Wildcats. Sulphur Springs ran out the clock and took the hard fought 26-15 victory on the road.

In the first half, defense dominated the early plays. Sulphur Springs drove from their 40 to the Wichita Falls 38 only to see the drive stalled on downs.

The Raiders also saw a drive halted by the tight defensive front of the Wildcats. The Wichita Falls Rider got bad news on the punt as Morgan's boot sailed into the stands.

The shanked punt gave Sulphur Springs nice field position at the 39-yard line.

Owens went deep and on just his sixth throw in a varsity game, he found speedy Shane McQueen deep for a 39-yard scoring bomb. On the catch McQueen, who has been out weeks with an ankle injury, jumped and caught up with the ball stretching out to make a sensational grab. The extra point try missed, but Sulphur Springs had a 6-0 lead with 7:44 left in the first quarter.

Following another short Wichita Falls punt, the Wildcats were in scoring position again.This time they had to settle for an Arellano 26-yard field goal. The first quarter ended with Sulphur Springs ahead 9-0.

The Raiders were knocked back on their next possession. Sulphur Springs muscle men Harris and Tyler Halerumal did the damage. Harris with a hard hit at the line and Halerumal with a sack of Carter. Sulphur Springs took over on downs.

Later in the second quarter, the Wildcats strung together a scoring drive using Devion "Thrill" Hill runs and passes from Owens to Alvin Frazier. Frazier picked up a key first down, but was injured on the play and he was inverted in midair and landed in awkward position. Arellano capped the drive with a 30-yard field goal to make it a 12-0 game with less than five minutes remaining in the first half.

The Raiders played well in the final stages of the first half. First they scored on a pass from Carter to Reid Barnett from10-yards out. The extra point sliced the Sulphur Springs lead to 12-7.

Then when it appeared Sulphur Springs was going to score, the Rider defense came up big. Owens had completed five passes in a row, but was picked off by A.J. Scallion to end the threat.

In the second half Sulphur Springs play well, especially on defense with the game on the line. The Wildcats hung on to take the 11-point victory.

"The game was too close to be honest with you. I guess we are going to be one of those cardiac kids again, we play it down to the wire," Sulphur Springs head coach Greg Owens said. "We score and it excites and energizes us. I am learning that we are an emotional team. It doesn't matter if it is the offense or the defense scoring. I still think we could have played better. That is just the coach in me, we could have had 28 points in the first half. But I am happy with the win, I just have a high standard and I want us to play better. We could not get our motor going. Justin (the head coach’s son) was wide-eyed, he’s a sophomore stepping in there. He floated some balls. Cody Clayton stepped in when Alvin got his knee hurt. Clayton is another sophomore."

Owens continued, "Our defense was tough again. We gave up some things, we did not tackle well at times. But Wichita Falls Riders has some talented players, they’re good. Our run game was just barely missing, we were so close to breaking a long. But give Rider some credit too. Our expectations for our offensive line is to dominate. In the second half we got the surges we needed. We're 3-0 and I will sure take it. We can play better. I am excited for the kids. I’ll calm down and watch the video and we’ll fix the mistakes. It’s still early, it’s only the third game of the year."

The Wildcats, now 3-0 for the year, will play at Memorial Stadium in Mesquite against Mesquite Poteet in their next outing.

Poteet lost to Frisco Centennial 41-27.

In other 13-4A scores — Jacksonville 21, Hallsville 7; Longview 54, Natchitoches Central (La.), 14; Lindale 28, Pine Tree 26; Henderson 20, Mount Pleasant 12; Marshall 41, Kilgore 14; Texas High 34, Arkansas High 28.




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