|SSHS loses to Texas High|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Nov. 5, 2006 - TEXARKANA - Sometimes Goliath wins.
No. 1-ranked Texas High, with 6-foot, 7-inch quarterback Ryan Mallett pulling the trigger, gunned down the Sulphur Springs Wildcats, 47-0, Friday night at Bob Grim Stadium.
Mallett, who has verbally committed to the University of Michigan, threw for 205 yards and matched his career high with five touchdown passes, two of them going to speedy wide receiver John T. Johnson, who had five catches for 146 yards.
The Tigers (9-0, 4-0) stayed unbeaten by using the precision passing of Mallett, the inside running of Rowland Smith (20 carries for 148 yards and a touchdown), and the mistakes of the Wildcats (2-7, 1-3).
Sulphur Springs turned the ball over five times, had trouble getting a snap in shotgun and punt formations, and ended up with 20 plays that went for negative yardage.
Seemingly every time the Wildcats had a positive play, something� negative would follow.
Texas High didn't play mistake-free, either. The Tigers had three turnovers and had a touchdown called back on a penalty, but they had more than enough talent to overcome their mistakes and take advantage of Wildcat miscues.
Sulphur Springs set a dubious school record with negative-58 yards rushing on 34 carries. The negative yardage was the result of five sacks of quarterback Tyrick Rollison, three snaps that went over his head, and several snaps on punts that rolled back to punter Jon Holt, resulting in two losses of yardage and a blocked punt. The Wildcats are using their fourth center and fourth deep snapper this season.
Even though the Wildcats lost to the No. 1-ranked team in the AP's Class 4A poll, SSHS head coach Greg Owens was disappointed in his team's execution.
"It's the same ol', same ol' - snaps over our head, fumbling ... I don't understand, I really don't," Owens said. "I didn't think we played as hard as we could in the first half, either. Even though we got the mistakes, we got back down again and emotionally could not rebound and did not rebound.
"The second half, we came out better and executed a few things, but we still can't execute well enough."
The game started positively for Sulphur Springs. On the first play from scrimmage, Mallett hit Johnson with a short pass, but SSHS senior linebacker Stephan Petty hammered Johnson with what was probably the best lick laid by a Wildcat all season. The ball popped loose and Wildcat junior Josh Dunn recovered at the Texas High 41-yard line.
The Wildcats then got down to the 26-yard line, but on third-and-6, Rollison was sacked for an 8-yard loss. That was a sign of things to come.
The SSHS defense then forced a Texas High punt - the only one of the game - but three plays later, Texas High's Jimmie Strong picked off a Rollison pass to set up the Tigers' first TD - a 12-yard run by Smith.
Strong had a strong game for Texas High. In addition to his interception, he blocked a punt on Sulphur Springs' next possession and caught a 3-yard TD pass from Mallett.
It didn't take Texas High long to score from anywhere on the field. The Tigers had the ball for just 47 offensive plays, while Sulphur Springs had 64 snaps.�
Three of Texas High's scoring drives were one-play each, as Mallett sliced up the SSHS secondary by finding Johnson behind the safeties for TD passes of 38 and 46 yards and tossing scoring passes of 7 and 11 yards to Joe Anderson.
"They have superior talent," Owens said. "The bottom line is they have the studs and they have them everywhere. It's hard to overcome that. You can't make mistakes and keep giving them chances, and that's what we did too many times.
"We couldn't even get a punt off, which is very frustrating."
The Wildcats tried to get the running backs more involved in the offense, handing off the ball a season-high 13 times. Petty led the team with 13 yards on six carries as the Texas High defense just shut down the running lanes. The Wildcats' longest run was 11 yards by Rollison on a scramble.
Rollison finished the game 16-of-29 passing for 143 yards and two interceptions. He found Tyler Rhoades six times for 68 yards.
But, by that time, Texas High was already up 34-0 at half.
The Wildcats received the second-half kickoff and gained a pair of first downs on the 34-yard completion from Rollison to Rhoades, and fourth-and-9 conversion pass from Rollison to Jeff Beck for 11 yards. Beck caught three passes for 26 yards.
But, a bad snap resulted in a 12-yard loss on third-and-10, and SSHS' Holt had to punt. He killed the ball at the 4-yard line, but that just set Texas High up to go 96 yards on their next drive, which culminated in Mallett's fifth TD pass of the game, this time 11 yards to Anderson.
Sulphur Springs' Ryan Gibson and Brittan Diamond both came up with fumble recoveries, but the Wildcats turned around and gave the ball back with fumbles on each occasion.
Diamond finished the game with seven tackles at outside linebacker, while noseguard Rodney Evans had a team-high eight stops. Petty and Clay Wilks had six tackles each and Dunn added five.