Make and Break: Wildcats are in the playoffs despite loss to No. 2 Texas High
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Oct. 29, 2005 - When Texas High fumbled the opening kickoff Friday, it looked like the breaks might go the way of the Sulphur Springs Wildcats in a showdown for the District 12-4A championship.

But, the second-ranked Tigers made their own breaks in a 62-27 victory on Senior Night at Gerald Prim Stadium.

Texas High junior quarterback Ryan Mallett threw for five touchdowns, all in the first half, and the Tigers scored a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter before they had ran an offensive play to put distance between themselves and the rest of the district.

The night was actually one of mixed emotions for Sulphur Springs, because though the Wildcats (5-4, overall, 3-1 in district) suffered their worst loss of the season, they found themselves assured of a playoff berth because Paris beat North Lamar, 14-10.

Texas High (8-1 overall, 4-0 in district) wrapped up the 12-4A title and will be the Division I playoff representative. (See the accompanying story about playoff scenarios.)

Mallett completed just seven passes, but five of them went for touchdowns, and the Texas High defense came up with six turnovers, including two interception returns for touchdowns in the third quarter.

Sulphur Springs, in turn, got 161 hard yards and two touchdowns rushing from senior running back Chris Person on 28 carries, and 95 yards and two TDs from junior quarterback Logan Turner.

But, Texas High shut down the SSHS passing game, holding Turner to 11-of-30 passing for 83 yards and three interceptions.

The Tigers had three turnovers of their own - including a muff on opening kickoff recovered by SSHS senior Ivan Beard - but the Wildcats fumbled the ball right back on the next play. SSHS head coach Brad Turner said that kept the Cats from gaining any offensive momentum early.

"Six turnovers and two gimmees - against that team, you can't do that," Turner said. "We gave them the two gimmee touchdowns and we had six turnovers, and they returned two of them for touchdowns. They're good.

"We knew coming into this that you pretty much had to be mistake-free and hope for a few breaks. We got a couple early, but we weren't able to keep from making mistakes ourselves, and they capitalized on them."

The Wildcats went to their two-back look in the second quarter, with Josh Riley and Stephan Petty teaming up with Person in the backfield, and were able to churn out 286 rushing yards in the game and take some time off the clock on their possessions.

The SSHS defense was good early. Mallett threw a 37-yard TD to Jeffrey Meadows on the Tigers' first possession, but Sulphur Springs defense held T-High to a missed field goal and a punt on their next two possessions to trail just 7-0 after one period.

The Tigers, though put up four touchdowns in the second quarter alone - all on TD passes from Mallett. A 28-yard scoring toss to Mallett and a 15-yard TD pass to tight end Daniel Glover gave the Tigers a 21-0 lead.

Sulphur Springs then went to its two-back offense and manufactured an 83-yard scoring drive helped out by a double-penalty on Texas High that amounted to 28 yards.

Person got the scoring call from 6 yards out. The snap on the extra point went awry, as SSHS cut the lead to 21-6.

Mallett, though, went back to work on the Tigers' next two drives, hitting Joseph Anderson for a 54-yard TD and Justin Coats for a 44-yard catch-and-run that gave the Tigers a 34-6 advantage.

The Wildcats cut into the lead, 34-12, with 12 seconds remaining in the half on Person's 1-yard TD.

Texas High's defense put all the points on the board in the third period with its defense. Safety Chaise Mooty returned a deflected pass 70 yards for a touchdown, and cornerback John T. Johnson made a leaping interception at the 8-yard line and wove his way 92 yards for another TD. Mooty had another interception in the end zone later in the period and returned it to nearly midfield.

Sulphur Springs had the ball for all but 2:13 of the third period, but were outscored, 14-0, and found themselves behind, 48-12.

"We'd keep the ball, but we couldn't get it in the end zone. We'd drive, drive, drive, then turn it over," Turner said. "They're athletic on defense, very good on defense. But, we were able to do some things. We got in our two-back package and ran at them and were able to move the ball. 

"We just couldn't sustain. We just didn't help ourselves at all."

The teams traded TDs in the fourth quarter with Texas High's Derrick Wesley scoring on runs of 15 and 65 yards, while Logan Turner put up TD runs of 4 and 3 yards for the Wildcats.

Wesley led the Tigers on the ground with 161 yards rushing on 13 carries.

Sulphur Springs came up with three turnovers. Beard, Petty and Colby Mills all made fumble recoveries. Beard was also one of the top tacklers for the Cats with seven stops. Linebacker Zach Attaway also had seven tackles, while Petty recorded six, and Jake Broumley and Clay Wilks had five each. Fred Dale and Demarcus Johnson both had tackles for losses in the fourth quarter.

"I was proud that they kept playing hard," Turner said. "The bottom line is, we put ourselves in a position to play for a district championship, then we didn't play as well as we would have liked to. 

"I thought the guys played hard, and these seniors never gave up. We've got some more football to play. We're going to keep playing for two more weeks, at least."

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