Texas High hammers the Wildcats, 59-25

By DON WALLACE, News-Telegram Sports Editor

Oct. 12, 2008 - TEXARKANA - So much for bouncing back from the Longview loss.

This time the ball definitely did not bounce the way of the Wildcats.

Turnovers, turnovers and turnovers. Well actually it was four, not three turnovers which doomed the Wildcats.

Instead of jumping back into the District 13-4A race, the Wildcats were knocked back in the pack as Texas High hammered Sulphur Springs 59-25 Friday night.

The Wildcats should have known it was not their night when Texas High scored off a blocked punt without hardly breaking a sweat in the first quarter to jump ahead 7-0.

"Second week in a row, we came out and made mistakes. It killed us, we dropped touchdown passes," Sulphur Springs head coach Greg Owens said. "If you make mistakes against a good team with athletic people you get a whipping. We got taken to the woodshed early by Texas High."

The win was revenge indeed for Sulphur Springs' 28-24 defeat of the Tigers last year which knocked the team off the district perch and left them on the outside of the playoff race with their 27-game win streak snapped.

When one team like Sulphur Springs makes four turnovers and the other team makes none, it is easy to declare the victor.

Sulphur Springs quarterback Tyrik Rollison completed 20-of-33 passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Jace Jackson caught seven for 136 yards on a standout night. Running back Ryan Young ran for 91 yards on 11 carries, but it was all not enough to stem the tide of Texas High.

The Tigers had almost 500 yards of total offense. Running back Cody Sutton raced for 137 yards on 23 attempts to highlight the ground game. T-High quarterback Nathan Sorenson threw 19 times, completing 13 for 183 yards and two scores.

The early touchdown by Texas High came when Cameron Evans slipped through the line and blocked the punt off the foot of Kendrick Dial. Evans blocked the ball and fell on it in the end zone. The extra point by Austin Gibson gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead.

Following a nice kickoff return by Shane McQueen, Sulphur Springs set up shop at their own 31-yard line.

Rollison threw to Garrett Ferguson for a 13-yard gain. Young mixed things up with a short run. Rollison then completed two passes in a row. The second pass was a screen to McQueen which moved the ball from near midfield down to the 19-yard line. With the Tigers thinking pass, Young took a handoff and raced up the middle for an 19-yard scoring run. Fernando Arellano's extra point tied the game at 7-all with 1:55 left in the first quarter.

The rest of the first half would belong to the homestanding Tigers as they would go on a 21-0 scoring burst.

Following a punt by Rollison, the Tigers took over at their own 23-yard line. Texas High moved in for the score on 10 plays. Sorenson threw twice for gains of 28 and eight yards. Then he let his feet do the talking as he closed out the drive with three runs. Sorenson scored on an 9-yard keeper at the 9:18 mark of the second quarter. Gibson again was perfect with the extra point and the Wildcats found themselves down 14-7.

The Wildcats started their next drive at their own 31. Rollison completed four passes in a row to three different receivers. First he hit McQueen for a gain of three, then found Fergurson open for a five yard pickup following by passes to Jackson covering 10 yards and then seven more on the next catch. Rollison tried to go deep and with plenty of time to pass behind the good blocking of the offensive line. But Rollison's pass fell incomplete on four consecutive tries, forcing a punt.

Rollison's punt pinned the Tigers back at their own 2-yard line. But that did not deter the Texas High team from putting together a scoring drive.

Runs by Sutton loosened up the Wildcat defense. Sutton ran for four yards, then Sorenson ran a keeper against the grain and rambled for 29 yards. Sutton had a 15-yard run for another first down. A personal foul on Sulphur Springs for a face mask penalty moved the ball to the Wildcats' 26-yard line. Sutton got half the yards with an off tackle run. Then Sorenson capped the drive with a 14-yard run to paydirt and a touchdown. The extra point gave the home team a 21-7 lead with 2:07 left before the bands took the field.

Sulphur Springs started at their own 23 and quick mounted a crisp drive. Rollison threw to Ferguson for a 20-yard gain, then found Jackson for another first down reception. Two more passes moved the ball to the 1-yard line. A fumbled exchange bounced into the hands of Caleb Dudley who raced toward the other goal, only a shoestring tackle by Young saved a touchdown.

The Tigers took over at their 48-yard line. Sorenson completed three passes in a row as the Tigers drove for a score. The capping play was a 24-yard scoring toss from Sorenson to Cobi Hamilton with 17.3 seconds left in the second quarter. With the extra point, the Tigers and the homecoming crowd were happy to have a 28-7 lead over the favored Wildcats.

The third quarter was a recipe for disaster for Sulphur Springs. Each time they made a mistake, Texas High scored. It was like trying to put out a fire using gasoline.

The Tigers forced a punt, then were left with the short field to cover following a stellar return by Roderick Collier down to the Wildcats' 15-yard line. Sutton took the ball to the end zone on one play as he grabbed the ball and cut outside for a 15-yard scoring jaunt. The extra point gave Texas High a 35-7 lead.

The Tigers really started to growl turning two turnovers by Sulphur Springs into touchdowns over the next five minutes.

First, an interception by Texas High's Montrae Williams was returned to the Wildcats' 23-yard line. Three play later Sorenson scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak.

Sulphur Springs could not hang on to the ball and soon the Tigers were set up at the Wildcats' 38 following another turnover. Sorenson threw a 25-yard scoring pass to Hamilton and the extra point was perfect as the Tigers took a 49-7 lead with 6:56 still left in the third period.

The Wildcats show their spirit putting together a 66-yard, five-play drive for a score. The touchdown came on a Rollison pass to Lemarcus Kendricks at the 5:32 mark from 18-yards out. The try for a two-point conversion pass was incomplete, but the Texas High lead was reduced to 49-13.

The Tigers found plays that would work against the Sulphur Springs defense and they stuck to them. Four straight runs on the next possession allowed the Tigers to move from their 33 to the end zone. The capping run came by Slade Heathcott on a 45-yard rumble for the goal. The Tigers went up 56-13.

The Wildcats answered when Young got them back on the scoreboard with a 42-yard touchdown run. The senior speedster capped a drive with a two-play drive. Good field position was set up by a blocked field Anthony Mills.

Texas High added a 32-yard Gibson field goal.

The Wildcats closed out the scoring with a 26-yard scoring pass from Rollison to Ferguson in the final three minutes.

The Tigers saw their district record evened at 1-1 with the 59-25 win over Sulphur Springs. The Wildcats fall to 1-2 heading into a bye week.

After the game, coach Owens got a hug from his wife, Carla. He then took off his cap and scratched his head as he tried to absorb what had happened.

"It's going to be a long two week before we get to play again. Our backs are against the wall now," Owens said. "Now all the games left are definitely important. They were important before, but now they really are. This situation will test the character of our football team and see how we bounce back. These loses sting, but that happens when you play good people."

The Wildcats have a bye week and return to play Oct. 24 when they host Mount Pleasant.

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