What a Finish: Wildcats rally in fourth-quarter for bi-district win
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Nov. 13, 2004 - FRISCO - As coaches from Dallas Lincoln watched Sulphur Springs mount a fourth-quarter drive with the outcome of the game on the line Friday night, one scout turned to the other and said, "Coach, that's a championship drive."

It sure was.

In the do-or-die atmosphere of the playoffs, the Wildcats completed a fourth-quarter rally from 10 points down to clip Terrell, 38-34, in the Class 4A, Division II bi-district round at Frisco Memorial Stadium.

The Wildcats (9-2) moved 54 yards in six plays to take the lead on Keenan Clayton's 21-yard touchdown run with 2:03 to play, and then the Sulphur Springs defense ended the game on John Hall's interception of a desperation pass on fourth down.

It was Sulphur Springs' first playoff win since 1998, when they edged Terrell 13-10, and it sends the Wildcats to the area round, where they will face the winner between Lincoln and Lake Dallas. The area game is tentatively set for SMU's Ford Stadium on Saturday.

"Our kids found a way to overcome. We knew that bunch was talented," said SSHS head coach Brad Turner. "They had speed, like we said. We made some mistakes, but our kids hung in there and rallied around one another. We got two scores down and we could have rolled over, but we fought back.

"We made some big throws and big catches and big runs. The defense made a stand when they had to, and that's what good teams do."

SSHS sophomore quarterback Logan Turner completed 19-of-32 passes for 304 yards, including six passes for 172 yards going to Clayton who saw more time on offense than any game since last year's playoffs. He responded with 230 yards of total offense and two touchdowns.

Both teams had close to 400 yards of total offense, but the SSHS defense clamped down on Terrell's offense with the game on the line.

"It was about heart - this game was all about heart. We were down for a little bit and had to get back up," said senior linebacker Keidric Duffey, who had 13 tackles including two for losses on Terrell's last drive. "This game was ours, we weren't going to let it go."

Until Hall's interception, the game wasn't decided as the lead changed hands seven times including three times in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats entered the final period down 10 points, 27-17, and facing a first-and-25 from their own 20 after back-to-back penalties. Penalties were a problem for the Cats all game as they were flagged 14 times for 89 yards.

But, they overcame it when Clayton blew by the safety on a deep post and Turner connected with him for a 65-yard gain. On the next play, Turner threw an out route to speedster Keelan Green, who slipped one tackle and raced into the end zone to complete the 15-yard scoring play.

Spenser Daniel's extra point pulled the Cats to within 27-24 with 24 seconds gone in the fourth quarter.

Then, a special team's play set the Wildcats up to take the lead. After the defense held Terrell on their next possession, Harley Pier snuck through the line and blocked Spencer Foster's punt, which trickled out of bounds at the 3-yard line. One play later and Green had a 3-yard TD run to give the Wildcats a 31-27 lead.

Coach Turner said the block occurred after the Wildcats misaligned and put more men than usual on the line, sending returner Green out to cover a wide out.

Whatever happened, it worked.

"Harley came up the middle unblocked," Turner said. "That was a huge play by one of those guys who did his role and came up with the play when we needed it most."

Before the game was over, the Cats needed more big plays.

Terrell used the field position battle to retake the lead with 3:50 to play when they moved 36 yards in six plays, capped by Kebron Lampkin's 1-yard run that put the Tigers up, 34-31.

Then, came the "championship" drive. A 14-yard kickoff return by Josh Riley put the Cats in fine field position at the 46-yard line. After a 5-yard procedure penalty, junior running back Chris Person got nine of his 50 yards for the game. Then, Clayton reeled off a 22-yard run and Turner ran for seven more.

On second down from the 21, Clayton took a handoff behind Jose Vargas and Chris Berry and went the distance for the go-ahead touchdown.

"One thing the coaches stressed to the seniors was don't leave anything on the field - leave it all out there," said Clayton who led the team in rushing yards (58), receiving yards (172) and was third in tackles (12). "There could have been our last game, and we had to play it like it was our last. Our last offensive drive, we knew we had to score. We had to score to get it done."

Outside linebacker Jared Ramey led the Wildcats in tackles with 14, while Jake Broumley had 10, and defensive ends Patrick Radney and Tremayne Jones recorded eight apiece.

Terrell had success running the ball, accumulating 336 yards on 56 carries, led by L.J. James' 110 yards on 11 totes and 72 yards from Brice McCain.

The Tigers took the first-quarter lead on James' 10-yard run following an SSHS fumble. But, the Wildcats responded with a 37-yard field goal by Daniel, who also booted all five PATs, and a 26-yard TD pass from Turner to Clayton down the middle - where they did most of their damage - to go up, 10-7 three minutes deep in the second quarter.

The teams then exchanged touchdowns - Terrell's on quarterback Rolando Kennedy's 1-yard run, and Sulphur Springs on an 11-yard screen pass from Turner to Person - as SSHS went into halftime leading 17-14.

After the first play of the third quarter, it looked like the Wildcats could put the game away when Turner and Clayton hooked up for a 48-yard gain. But, when the Wildcats didn't cash in, Terrell took advantage.

The Tigers scored on two straight possessions, on a 24-yard run by McCain and a 9-yard TD scamper by James, to go up 27-17.

That set the stage for the Wildcats' comeback.

"There's no slouches in the playoffs. There are no bad teams, so you've just got to play and hang in there and have faith in your teammates that they'll get it done," Turner said. "We did that tonight, and it was a big win.

"We just tried to stay patient. We told our kids to just stay with what we're doing, and they did. They didn't panic. They always knew that when we got it, we could go score."

Then, the defense responded. On Terrell's final possession, they got one first down on a 14-yard scramble by the quarterback, but Duffey stuffed Lampkin for a 2-yard loss, then sniffed out a lateral pass to McCain and dropped him, with help from Radney and David Barnes, 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

"I was kind of worried when we got 10 points down and the crowd was all quiet," said Clayton. "But, we came back and scored and everyone got pumped back up.

"Now, we just have to get ready for next week."

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