Game Notes: Marshall vs. Wildcats

By BOBBY “BUTCH” BURNEY, Special to the News-Telegram

Nov. 2, 2008 - MARSHALL – First things first for the Sulphur Springs Wildcats.

The Wildcats are not officially in the playoffs yet, but they can see the promised land from here.

Sulphur Springs controls its own destiny when it comes to the postseason, and the Wildcats can make it to the Class 4A playoffs in every conceivable scenario but one when they host Hallsville on Friday in the season finale.

A look at District 13-4A reveals that Longview (5-0) and Texas High (4-1) are both guaranteed spots in the playoffs and they will represent the district in the Division I (big school) bracket. Pine Tree (0-5) is both out of the playoff picture. That leaves Sulphur Springs (3-2), Marshall (2-3), Hallsville (2-3) and Mount Pleasant (1-4) vying for the final two playoff spots.

Sulphur Springs has the inside position. The Wildcats will make the playoffs IF (1) they beat Hallsville, OR (2) they lose to Hallsville by less than 17 points, OR (3) Marshall loses to Mount Pleasant. In fact, the only way the Wildcats cannot make the playoffs is if Marshall beats Mount Pleasant, then Sulphur Springs loses to Hallsville by 17 or more points, and then loses a coin flip between SSHS, Marshall and Hallsville to decide the two playoff teams.

If the Wildcats make the playoffs, they will probably face either Kilgore or Lindale in the Division II (small school) bracket in bi-district.

If Marshall beats Mount Pleasant on Friday, they are in the playoffs as well. Hallsville and Mount Pleasant face uphill battles to get into the playoffs and need help from other teams.

RECORDING NUMBERS – It’s time again for the SSHS record book update. Senior receiver Jace Jackson put his name in the books again for catching his 11th touchdown of the season, tying him with Chris Thompson (2007) for the most TD receptions in a season. Jackson also moved into sole possession of the record for most TD catches in a career (17), giving him one more than Daqualin “Boo” Evans (2007). Jackson caught seven passes for 106 yards on Friday, giving 98 receptions for 1,460 yards in his career. The number of catches puts Jackson fourth all-time (Jeff Beck has the record with 109) and second all-time in total yards (Rolaundo Wright had 1,550 in 2003-04). Jackson earlier this year matched the record for the number of TD receptions in a game with three. That number was also tied by his teammate Ryan Young and, the on Friday, junior Shane McQueen tied it again with three touchdowns himself. McQueen was one yard short of holding the record by himself when he was tackled just shy of the goalline on a 45-yard catch in the fourth quarter. McQueen finished with six receptions for 191 yards.

MORE RECORDS TALK – Ryan Young is nearing a record himself. He scored twice against Marshall on runs of 10 and 6 yards to give him 19 touchdowns for the year, one off the school record of 20 set by Matt Rosamond in 1994. It appeared Young had tied the record in the third quarter, when he faked out two Marshall defenders on his way to a 37-yard TD, but the run was called back on an illegal blocking penalty. On the next play, QB Tyrik Rollison found Jackson for a 45-yard score. … Rollison, who owns virtually all of the school passing records, threw for 417 yards, which is third all-time in a single game. Rollison already holds the record of 476 yards, set last year against Lindale. … The Wildcats also set a single game record with 32 first downs.

1-2-3 KICK – All three SSHS kickers got in on the act last night. Sophomore Fernando Arellano was true on all five of his extra point attempts, and junior Rolando Larios knocked through both of his PATs. Senior Austin Brewer tried three onside kicks, and the teammate Lemarcus Kendricks came up with one of the recoveries. In fact, that recovery early in the second quarter led to a Rollison 33-yard TD run that broke a 14-14 tie and started a Wildcats’ string of 21 unanswered points. … Linebacker Dillon Verner had a strong game with a sack, a fumble recovery inside the Wildcats’ 10-yard line and six tackles. Other stand-outs on defense included linebacker Tyler Higginbotham, end Colton Nash, tackle Fred Gilstrap, safety Johnny McSheffery and tackle Tadarious Johnson. … The SSHS defense gave up 203 yards rushing in the first half on 26 carries, but shut down Marshall in the second half, holding the Mavericks to just 18 yards on 14 carries over the final two quarters.

SWITCHING OUT – Brandon Fitzgerald started at quarterback for Marshall rather than Darius Jones, who was listed as the tentative starter. Jones, who started at wide receiver, played a few plays at QB and reeled off a 90-yard TD run on his first carry. However, Jones suffered a leg injury in the fourth quarter and did not return to the game. … The Wildcats did not punt in the game. … Sulphur Springs had 24 plays of more than 10 yards. Marshall had half that many. … Marshall’s Jamal Anderson did have two good kick returns, one for 32 yards and another for 46 yards. … The Wildcats were hit with an unusual penalty in the fourth quarter, as they were flagged 15 yards for unsportmanslike conduct when two members of the Cat Pack ran down the middle of the field with the SS flag after a Wildcat touchdown.

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