Sulphur Springs near a playoff berth
By DON WALLACE, News-Telegram Sports Editor
Nov. 2, 2008 - MARSHALL - It was far from perfect, but it will do for now.
Sulphur Springs got a 57-36 win over Marshall in a wild scoring fest.
The most important thing is that is a district win. The win moved the Wildcats to 3-2 while Marshall fell to 2-3 in the very competitive 13-4A district football race.
Sulphur Springs quarterback Tyrik Rollison again pulled the trigger on the Wildcat offense with five touchdown passes and two on the ground.
"We're glad to get this one out of the way. The kids played hard. We gave up too many points," said Greg Owens, Sulphur Springs head coach. "Three turnovers in the game, we're fortunate to win. But the kids kept stepping up and coming back to finish off the game."
Marshall was led by future University of Oklahoma player Darius Jones who did service at both receiver, return specialist and quarterback before leaving the game with less than four minutes to go in the third period.
"We knocked him around, they tried to get him the ball. He was nicked up, but he's a big time player," Owens said.
The coach would not say that the win clinched a playoff berth. But he said anything short of a 17 point loss next week at the hands of Hallsville would knock the Wildcats from playoff contention with one regular season game left.
The first quarter featured the best and worse of the night for Sulphur Springs.
First it was the best as the Wildcats defense held the Mavericks out of the end zone, halting a drive on downs at the Sulphur Springs 38. Brandon Fitzgerald, the starting quarterback, threw three straight incompletions including a fourth down toss from punt formation.
Sulphur Springs took over and quick picked up two quick first downs. Senior running back Ryan Young took off for 16 yards. Then Rollison threw to Rashad Hall on a bubble screen which netted 12 more yards. Rollison was thinking about getting a score three plays later deep in Maverick territory, but his pass was intercepted and returned to the 2-yard line.
Marshall's second possession was more productive than the first try. First K.D. Johnson got eight yards moving the ball up to the 10. Then Jones took over at quarterback, faked a pitch and turned the corner using his speed to scoot 90-yards for the first touchdown of the game. Luis Segura booted the edxtra point with 6:35 left in the first quarter, going up 7-0.
But the scoring for both teams was just warming up.
The Wildcats had a nine-play drive which covered 85 yards over the next two minutes and 12 seconds. Young lost seven yards on the first play, but the rest of the plays were very positive. Rollison threw for a first down on an 11-yard gain to Hall. Young ran for 12 yards behind a nice hole in the line provided by Sulphur Springs blockers. Rollison then ran for another first on an 11-yard dash. Rollison set up the score with another toss to Hall, this one picked up 24 yards. Young capped the drive on a 10-yard run. Fernando Arellano's extra point tied the game at 7-all with 4;23 remaining on the first quarter clock.
The Mavericks then posted a drive which would consume the remaining four minutes of the first quarter and part of the second period as they drove from their 37 to the goal on 11 plays. J.C. Haigwood picked up a key fourth down to key the march going. The scoring play was a nine-yard run from Haigwood for a score. The extra point gave the hometown Mavericks a 14-7 lead.
Sulphur Springs moved from their 27 to the 31 of Marshall in rapid-fire order. Rollison found Hall for a 13-yard gain and a first down. Rollison then threw to Hall and Jace Jackson for first down. Then Rollison tried deep throws with no luck as three consecutive balls fell incomplete against the Marshall defense.
On a fourth and 10 from the 31-yard line of the Mavericks, Rollison cooly sat in the pocket and looked over the field before throwing a scoring pass to Shane McQueen who had broken free from coverage over the middle of the field. TheArellano extra point at the 8:54 mark tied the game at 14-all.
Sulphur Springs then broke out the onside kick, a trick they would use several times in the game, for success. The Wildcats covered the loose pigskin and took over a the 43 of Marshall.
Two plays later Rollison used his speed and eluded tacklers for a 34-yard scoring run. The kick again was good by Arellano and Sulphur Springs had a 21-14 lead.
The Mavericks were moving the ball well with gains on the ground as they moved the chains. But a fumble ruined the scoring plans of Marshall, the ball popped free and was recovered by Dillon Verner at their own 5-yard line.
Sulphur Springs drove to the 39 of Marshall before turning the ball over on a Rollison interception. Glenn McKnight came up with the pick for the Mavs.
McKnight's long return set the Mavericks up in good shape at the Wildcats' 36-yard line.But the Sulphur Springs defense put together a fierce stand.
The Mavericks could only manage two yards in four tries. Big hits in the series came by Fred Gilstrap, Kedrick Dial and Tyler Higginbotham. The Wildcats got the ball and momentum, taking over on down with 1:11 left in the opening half.
Rollison threw to Jackson for a 21-yard gain, then found Hall for 19 more. Rollison threw to McQueen for the third first down in a row, this gain of 11 came in the form of a shovel pass. Rollison capped the drive with a perfect strike from eight-yards out to McQueen down the seam. The extra point let the visiting Wildcats go to the half up 28-14 with momentum and some breathing room on the opportunistic Mavericks.
Sulphur Springs started the second half like they had planned, moving down the field in on seven plays covering 65 yards. The Wildcats had a touchdown called back for an illegal block penalty. They did not bother them as they scored on a perfect 45-yard touchdown toss from Rollison to Jackson. The kick by Arellano was right on the mark and with 9;39 left in the third quarter.
With the Wildcats up 35-14, the Mavericks would not play dead.
The Mavericks had a short field to cover after a Sulphur Springs onside kick attempt failed, leaving the Marshall team at their 46-yard line.Fitzgerald was at the controls and made the big plays when needed he twice completed passes for first downs and also ran on fourth down to pick up four yards on a quarterback sneak to continue the drive. Marshall scored on a short run with Fitzgerald using his feet to get the two-point conversion. The Sulphur Springs lead was reduced to 35-22 with 5:42 left in the third period.
A Sulphur Springs drive only lasted four plays when it ended with a turnover. The fumble in the line recovered by Marshall's Eric McCowen. The Mavericks could do nothing with the Sulphur Springs aggressive defense and had to punt.
The Wildcats drove from their 23 down the field with Rollison continuing to delight the Sulphur Springs fans. On a third down from near midfield, Rollison avoided a sack,, moved away from pressure and threw to McQueen for a 45-yard gain. Young capped the drive in the opening minute of the fourth period with a nifty 6-yard scoring run through traffic. On a trick play from the extra point formation, Hall threw to Jackson for the two-point conversion to give the Wildcats a 43-22 lead with 11:54 left.
Verner made two big hits, including a sack as Sulphur Springs halted the next possession by Marshall.
Sulphur Springs moved the score to half a hundred as they went up 50-22 following a 57-yard scoring pass from Rollison to McQueen.
The teams were not tiring from scoring with each adding one more for good measure.
Sulphur Springs got a 33-yard scoring pass from Rollison to McQueen at the 4:01 mark. The extra point made it 57-30.
The final score of the game came when Fitzgerald threw a 36-yard pass to Daveon Williams. The try for a two point conversion failed.. Sulphur Springs won by the final of 57-36.
The Wildcats are 7-2 for the year, 3-2 in district play. They close out the regular season Friday at home against Hallsville with playoff positions on the line as the squad clash.