Wildcats lose on last second field goal against Mesquite Poteet
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Sept. 9, 2005 - MESQUITE - It may be a good thing the Sulphur Springs Wildcats played on Thursday night. They'll need an extra day to recover from the hangover of this one.

The Wildcats couldn't stop a two-touchdown lead from slipping away in the fourth quarter, and then watched the Mesquite Poteet Pirates mob kicker Ben Bishop when his 47-yard field goal on the final play of the game gave Poteet an improbable 38-35 victory at Mesquite Memorial Stadium.

The Pirates (3-0) scored 17 points in the final six minutes of the game, including 10 points in the last 24 seconds, to stun the Wildcats (1-2), who had held a lead since midway through the second quarter.

It was a heart-breaking loss for a team that had opportunity after opportunity to nail down the victory, but in the end couldn't overcome too many penalties and turnovers and a defense that allowed Poteet to score on every second-half possession.

"Bad, poor, very poor," SSHS head coach Brad Turner said of the outcome. "We had a lot of injuries, and we didn't play with a lot of what we needed to.

"It's going to be hard to get over this one. We've got an extra day - I don't know if that's good or bad. That means it stays with you an extra day."

The Wildcats will have a lot to mull over.

On the positive side of the ledger, SSHS senior wide receiver Josh Riley was sensational catching a school-record 17 passes for 186 yards and three TDs, junior quarterback Logan Turner completed 30-of-42 passes for 345 yards and four TDs and ran for 114 yards on 10 carries, and junior safety Colby Mills came up with a pair of interceptions.

But, the Wildcats turned the ball over three times, including an interception with 10 seconds left that set up the game-winning field goal, allowed Poteet to score on four consecutive second-half possessions, and were penalized 14 times for 145 yards.

"There are some things we've got to do better, and it's obvious what those things are," Turner said. "We've just got to find a way to play better. We still didn't find a way to stop them, and we turned the ball over a couple of times.

"We did some good things, but the thing I'm most disappointed in is at the end we didn't play as hard as we needed to."

The Wildcats built a 35-21 lead with 35 seconds to play in the third quarter when Riley caught his third TD pass, a 16-yard slant from Turner, and the two connected on the conversion.

But, Poteet went to 170-pound Calvin Smith, normally a wide receiver, at tailback after starter Taylor Dupree was injured. Smith responded with 78 yards rushing and three touchdowns all in the second half.

Poteet cut the lead to 35-28 on his 8-yard TD run with 6:05 to play - a drive helped out by a 15-yard pass interference call at midfield on third-and-9. That penalty was just one of many that either kept Poteet drives alive or stalled SSHS possessions.

Still, the Wildcats looked to be in control when Riley recovered an onside kick and the Wildcats drove down the field for an apparent TD when Chris Person scored from 17 yards out. But, a 10-yard holding penalty nullified the TD. It was one of four holding calls against the Wildcats inside the 20-yard line. All four were called by the same official on the Poteet sideline.

Sulphur Springs had to settle for a 31-yard field goal try from Spenser Daniel, who had already hit a pair of field goals from 32 yards and was 10-of-11 in his varsity career. The attempt went wide left, and Poteet took over at the 20.

The Wildcats twice had great opportunities to stop the Pirate drive that would eventually tie the game, but SSHS was hit with a 15-yard personal foul on an incomplete pass that would have brought up third-and-10 from the Poteet 20, and then one of the craziest plays in a game full of them occurred.

On third-and-10 from their own 45, Poteet quarterback Seth Sartain threw a long pass intended for wide receiver Akeem Turnbull. SSHS cornerback Ryan Gibson had inside position and tipped the ball away. But, when both Gibson and Turnbull fell to the ground, the ball landed on Gibson and eventually ended up in Turnbull's possession at the 10-yard line. Three plays later, Smith scored on a 1-yard run and Bishop's PAT tied the game at 35-35.

The Wildcats got the ball back on the kickoff at their own 22 with just 15 seconds remaining. Attempting a last-ditch effort, Logan Turner was flushed from the pocket and tossed a short pass, which tipped off the receiver's hand and into the diving arms of Poteet's Clint Owens at the 30-yard line with 10 seconds left.

After a long pass went incomplete, Bishop boomed his field goal attempt as the clock ran out.

Despite churning out 555 yards of total offense and 28 first downs, the Wildcats were on the wrong end of the scoreboard.

"We started off the second half good. I think we relaxed a little bit, honestly," Turner said. "I got the feeling that we felt like we had the game in hand. We had a lead, but it wasn't too much."

Riley had an incredible game, obliterating Kendall Wright's 2003 single-game record of 13 receptions with 17 of his own. His three TDs of 8, 6 and 16 yards tied the school mark.

Turner's 345 yards passing is the third-highest in school annals, his 30 completions are second-most in SSHS history, and his four TDs tied the school record. He had a whopping 459 yards of total offense. Also on his ledger are two picks and a fumble.

Along with his three touchdowns to Riley, he also found Tyler Rhoades for a 16-yard TD reception in the second quarter. Rhoades had a solid game as well, catching eight passes for 97 yards.

Poteet had not allowed a touchdown all season before the Wildcats scored four. They had opportunities to make it even more, but penalties and an interception blunted four drives.

"We had some bad breaks go our way, penalty-wise, and we had to settle for field goals a couple of times and then we had the missed field goal," Coach Turner said. "We did pretty much what we wanted to on offense, but we got down there and stumped our toe and had to settle for field goals three times and had an interception.

"That's a bunch of points we didn't cash in on. The interception right before half I thought was big in our two-minute drill."

Defensively, Mills had a highlight game with two interceptions and a game-high 11 tackles. Defensive end Fred Dale, safety Jake Broumley and middle linebacker Brian Nix recorded 10 tackles each, and outside linebacker Stephan Petty had eight.

Outside linebacker Tim Phillips forced a fumble and appeared to recover it in the fourth quarter, but the official allowed Poteet to keep possession. Brittain Diamond also came up with a loose ball when Poteet mishandled a pooch kick.

But, the Pirates rushed for 259 yards on 47 carries, including a team-high 92 yards from Sartain.

Sulphur Springs countered with 210 yards on 24 carries as Person steamrolled to 96 yards on 14 totes.

The Wildcats host Dallas W.T. White (1-2) next week, then travel to Lancaster in their final pre-district contest.

"We'll try to build on what we did well and fix what we didn't do well," Turner said. "It doesn't get any easier. W.T. White is going to run the ball and Lancaster is loaded with speed, too. We'll have an extra day to prepare, and have homecoming, so hopefully we'll be ready."

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