Running away with it
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Sept. 4, 2004 - That's more like it.
A week after struggling for points in the season opener, the Sulphur Springs Wildcats scored in just about every way possible Friday night in a 42-0 victory over Forney at City Bank Stadium.
Defense and special teams gave the Wildcats a 19-0 halftime lead and allowed the offense time to get its legs underneath it.
Those legs belonged mostly to running backs Chris Person and Keenan Clayton, who each scored twice, including Person's 97-yard TD run in the fourth quarter which is the longest play from scrimmage in SSHS history.
Keelan Green also tied a school record with an electrifying 90-yard punt return for a TD in the second period. Sulphur Springs also scored on a fumble return, safety and two field goals to go along with three offensive touchdowns.
The Wildcats (1-1) accounted for almost 300 yards of offense in the final half after getting just 84 yards in the opening two quarters. Person finished with 188 yards on nine carries, while Clayton had 81 yards on five totes as the Wildcats went with a two-back set to set the tone for the second half.
"We only took 20 snaps in the first half, and we just didn't ever really get into sync," said SSHS head coach Brad Turner. "Luckily, the kicking game and the defense scored, and we got a lead. In the second half, I said, 'We're going to come out and get in two-back and do some things.' We had two good drives. Person had an awesome night.
"We did better, certainly better in the second half. I thought we were more relaxed and more comfortable - just much better offensively."
Defensively, the Wildcats have played well for both games after switching to an aggressive run-stopping scheme. It works pretty well against the pass, too, as the Wildcats recorded five sacks by linebacker Keidric Duffey, tackle Mitchell Smith, end Tremayne Jones, tackle Travis Edmond and end Patrick Radney.
It was the defense which gave SSHS a 9-0 lead in the first period as Clayton picked up a fumble on the third play of the game and returned 14 yards for a touchdown, and then Duffey sacked Forney quarterback Casey Wilson in the end zone for a safety. It was Duffey's second safety of the season after recording another one in the season opener against Jacksonville.
Spenser Daniel then booted a 30-yard field goal - he added a 21-yarder late in the fourth quarter to give him three for the season - for a 12-0 Sulphur Springs lead.
When Green took a punt early in the second period at his own 10-yard line, found the wall on the visitors' sideline and outran the coverage team for the end zone to complete the 90-yard play, it gave SSHS a 19-0 halftime advantage.
While Sulphur Springs managed just 84 yards of total offense in the first half, Forney had even worse fortunes against the tenacious Wildcat defense, gaining just 40 yards, including only 3 yards rushing on 24 carries.
"We were stuffing them left and right," said senior outside linebacker Jared Ramey. "We had a few busts on the pass plays, but physically, we played them straight up. This defense stops the run.
"Our linebackers did a great job blitzing, the D-line played well, and some of those sacks wouldn't have happened if the secondary hadn't been doing their job covering the receivers. When you put up that goose egg, it's all over with."
Forney managed 108 yards rushing on the night, 93 of it by halfback Larry Williams, but the Jackrabbits fumbled three times, all of them recovered by Sulphur Springs - Radney and Brian Shurtleff along with Clayton's recovery for a TD.
Sulphur Springs did not have a turnover.
After going in with a 19-0 halftime advantage, Turner told the offense that rather than going with the normal one-back, four-receiver formation, the Wildcats would open with a two-back scheme.
"We had only taken 20 snaps, and we really hadn't done some things that we needed to. We had only taken two or three snaps out of the two-back, and we decided we needed to do that right off the bat, and get Keenan the ball and do some things in that package," Turner said.
"We didn't have to look for much else. That worked pretty well. The line was blocking well, the backs were hitting the holes well."
Sulphur Springs finished with 301 yards rushing on 27 carries behind the offensive line of Jose Vargas, Chris Berry, Jacob Jenkins, Cole Strawn and Wes Woods. Quarterbacks Logan Turner (5-of-11 for 68 yards) and Josh Riley (2-of-5 for 13 yards) combined to go 7-of-16 for 81 yards.
The first drive of the third quarter set the tone for the rest of the game as Clayton took a pitch and gained seven yards to the outside. Turner completed an 18-yard pass to Person out of the backfield, then Clayton ate up 17 yards and Person 19 on back-to-back runs to get the ball to the 2-yard line. Clayton carried it in easily from there for a 25-0 Sulphur Springs lead. The 63-yard drive took just five plays.
"Coach Turner said we were going to go out and open the drive with a two-back in the third quarter, and we needed to put in on them,"Clayton said. "They couldn't stop us when we were in the two-back."
Sulphur Springs got the ball back midway through the third period after Radney recovered a fumble forced by Duffey at the 38-yard line.
On the next play, Person took an inside hand-off and followed his blockers down the middle of the field, all the way to the end zone and a 32-0 Wildcat advantage with 4:04 to play in the quarter.
The very next time he touched the ball, the Wildcats were backed up to their own 3-yard line early in the final period. They ran the same play, only this time, the 200-pound Person cut to the outside, found the sideline to about midfield, then cut back across the field. Ninety-seven yards untouched for a touchdown.
"With that play, I find the hole, cut to the outside or cut it back in," Person explained. "I just saw the hole and cut to the outside, and it was wide open. I'm slow and fat, but I just did the best I could."
The defense also did its best, putting up a shutout as David Barnes, Clayton, Duffey and Radney all had solid games.
"If they put up zeros, we'll win every game," Turner said with a smile.