|Nothing comes easy: Wildcats overcome Paris with school record six touchdown passes from Turner|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Oct. 8, 2005 - Six games into the season, Brad Turner knows one thing for sure - nothing is going to be given to the Sulphur Springs Wildcats.
The Wildcat head coach saw his team rally in the second quarter to take a halftime lead over Paris, then finally put the game away in the second half of a 49-33 victory Friday at Gerald Prim Stadium.
Paris came into the District 12-4A opener with a 1-4 record having lost three consecutive games, but late in the second quarter Paris was playing well enough to be up by a touchdown, 20-14.
Sulphur Springs junior quarterback Logan Turner, however, threw a school-record six touchdown passes - and caught another one - as Sulphur Springs (3-3, 1-0) went on a 35-7 run to distance itself from the Lamar County visitors.
"I just need to come to realize that it's not going to come easy. We're just going to have to live with it that's it's not easy," said Coach Turner. "We've just got to find a way to overcome things like we did tonight.
"We're just going to have to scratch and fight and claw for everything we get. We played really good in spots, and we did some things not so good in spots, but in the end we found a way to overcome it. Regardless of good, bad or indifferent, it's a win - the bottom line is, it's a district win."
The good was an offense that scored seven touchdowns as Turner completed 19-of-30 passes for 265 yards and six touchdowns, eclipsing the school record of four set in 1962 by Miles Bramblett and tied twice, including last year by Turner. Ten of his passes went to slot receiver Josh Riley, who gained 102 yards and two touchdowns.
Riley already has 50 receptions this year, which is fourth-best in school history and he still has at least four games to go.
Wide receiver Josh Harrington, seeing his first action in a year because of two knee surgeries, caught a pair of TD passes, while senior running back Chris Person had one touchdown reception, and Spenser Daniel hauled in a 70-yard TD pass - the Wildcats' longest play from scrimmage this season - and booted all seven PATs.
Person also gained 152 yards rushing on 22 carries, including 114 yards in the second half behind the offensive line of Jose Vargas, Lucas Garrison, Jacob Jenkins, Terrence Wright and Travis Longino.
Defensively, the Wildcats made Paris punt three times and came away with three take-aways: a fumble recovery and interception by outside linebacker Stephan Petty and a fumble recovery by inside linebacker Carlos Hernandez.
Sulphur Springs also did a better job of stopping the conventional running game, though Paris ran the end-around six times for 87 of their 251 yards rushing. Linebacker Brian Nix and defensive end Cole Strawn led the team with 10 tackles each, while safety Colby Mills contributed eight, and Hernandez and Colt Hooten had five apiece.
"We played harder," Turner said. "In the two weeks we had to prepare, our theme was we wanted to play hard for 48 minutes, and I think our kids played really hard. We'll take the win."
It's wasn't easy coming.
Sulphur Springs scored first, using a 79-yard kickoff return by Jeffrey Pitts to set up Turner's 7-yard TD pass to Person for a 7-0 lead a little over two minutes into the game.
But, Paris struck right back with a little trickery. On their first offensive play, wide receiver Thurman Taylor took an end-around handoff, then pulled up and hit a wide open Jordan Fields for a 42-yard TD. The Wildcats' two-point conversion try failed when Nix blasted quarterback Matt Shores near the goal line.
Paris then took a 13-7 lead after a bobbled pass ended up in the hands of Thurman, who returned the fumble 21 yards to the SSHS 41-yard line. Nine plays later, Shores rifled a pass to Keon Furtch for a 4-yard TD.
The lead see-sawed back-and-forth, with SSHS taking the lead on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Turner to Riley. The score was set up by Petty's fumble recovery and a key 15-yard roughing-the-punter penalty on Paris.
Paris was penalized 12 times for 102 yards, while SSHS was hit four times for 45 yards.
Paris retook the lead, 20-14, on a 4-yard pass from Shores to fullback Ryan Southworth with 2:53 to play in the half.
But, Sulphur Springs started to take control of the game after that. They went 62 yards in six plays, overcoming a 15-yard penalty that wiped out a 50-yard gain. On third-and-25, Riley made a tough 29-yard reception across the middle to set up Turner's 37-yard TD completion to Harrington on a deep slant.
SSHS made the score 28-20, with 40 seconds to play in the half when Petty intercepted a Shores' pass, giving Sulphur Springs the ball at the 14-yard line. Two plays later, Riley took a handoff from Turner, then turned and threw a pass back to the quarterback for an 8-yard TD strike.
The Wildcats added a 70-yard pass from Turner to Daniel late in the third quarter to take a 35-20 lead.
"At halftime, I just basically told them that we won that half, regardless of what we did good or bad. If we win the next half, we win the game," Turner said. "I told them to keep playing hard, and our kids had a good attitude. They were all focused, they knew what we had to do, and they listened to the changes we made."
Though Paris cut the lead to 35-27 early in the fourth quarter on an 11-yard end-around by Ladarrius Gunn, the Wildcats put the game away with back-to-back TD drives capped by a 13-yard TD catch by Harrington and a 5-yard touchdown reception from Riley.
On both drives, Person had big runs to move the ball down the field.
"We didn't run the ball as well as we would have liked to early. They were packing them all in there and pressing us," Turner explained. "That gave us some trouble, but we were able to wear them down and get ahead, and in the second half our ability to run the football and eat some clock helped our defense and helped us win the game."
Sulphur Springs joined Texas High (54-0 over Greenville) and North Lamar (49-28 over Mount Pleasant) as 12-4A winners on Friday. The Wildcats will host Mount Pleasant (2-4, 0-1) next Friday.
"The next two or three weeks it'll gradually get a little tougher. If we win the next two, we'll be in the playoffs," Turner said. "But, right now, we've got to beat Mount Pleasant. I'm glad we got the win tonight, but we've got to find a way to beat Mount Pleasant."