Game Notes: Observations from the game at Gerald Prim Stadium

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

Sept. 12, 2008 - Wichita Falls Rider took a lead Thursday night because of its outstanding third-down conversion rate. Sulphur Springs, though, won the game due to its turnover ratio.

��In the first half Thursday, the Raiders converted 4-of-7 third-down tries, plus they were 2-for-2 on fourth downs. The only time they didn�t convert a first was on Joey Neale�s 42-yard field goal.

�� But, the Wildcat defense had a better number � five turnovers.

��� Starting with Jameison Dial�s fumble recovery at the 5-yard line late in the second quarter that blunted what looked like a Rider scoring drive and ending with Anthony Mill�s victory-clinching interception in the final minute, the Wildcats came up with just about every loose ball.

Darrell Franklin recovered a muffed punt that led to the Wildcats’ first TD, Johnny McSheffery came up with his second interception of the year and Dillon Verner recovered a fumble by Rider QB Shavodrick Beaver after a sack by Kedrick Dial. Sulphur Springs, meanwhile, did not commit a turnover.

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�� SLOW OUT OF THE BLOCKS � The Wildcats� first two possessions of the game were nothing to get excited about. QB Tyrik Rollison completed just one pass and was sacked twice in the first 20 minutes of the game. But, the Wildcats persevered to get an all-important touchdown before halftime. On the TD pass, a 13-yard bullet from Rollison to Rashad Hall, SSHS guard Mason Y�Barbo got the clearing block so Rollison could roll out. � On Hall�s second TD catch, it was Shane McQueen who threw a block at the 10-yard line to allow Hall to get into the endzone. McQueen also had a cut block on Ryan Young�s 18-yard touchdown that put the Cats ahead in the fourth quarter. � After the game, Hall was named the Old Spice Player of the Game by ESPN2.

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����COVER CHARGE � SSHS cornerback Anthony Mills had a great game in coverage with an interception, one pass knocked down in the end zone and a hard hit to break up another would-be completion. He also had a sack of Beaver on Rider�s final possession. � Also getting their hands on the ball were safety Triston Crook, who knocked down a Beaver pass on a blitz, and middle linebacker Tyler Higginbotham, who tipped a pass in the fourth quarter. Higginbotham had an 18-yard sack of Beaver in the third quarter.

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NO PRESSURE -- Sophomore Tyler Halerumal got the first varsity start of his career on national television against a top 10 opponent when he replaced Jake Russell at left tackle. Halerumal was moved up from JV this week. … An MRI on Russell’s knee revealed minor tears in two ligaments. Surgery won’t be necessary, but he may miss another week or two. … The Wildcats’ first first down was a 20-yard catch by Ben Barrows with 9:42 remaining in the second quarter.

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COMING ATTRACTIONS – Homecoming is usually the biggest non-district game on the schedule. Not this year. But, next week’s game against Mesquite Poteet will combine the Fall Festival, stew contest and homecoming all into one weekend. … SSHS senior running back Ryan Young has a scholarship offer to attend the Air Force Academy and play football. … The Wildcats’ hurry-up, no-huddle offense, called NASCAR because of its speed, visibly wore down the Rider defense as the game progressed. The SSHS defense, meanwhile, kept running fresh bodies in on the line, and the Wildcats were able to get more pressure on Beaver in the fourth quarter against the tired Rider offensive line. In particular, defensive linemen Ryan Miller, J.B. Beachem, Colton Nash, Jameison Dial and Kedrick Dial came up big in the fourth quarter.

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ODDS AND ENDS – ESPN estimated the crowd at Gerald Prim Stadium at 7,000 people. Not bad for a town of 15,000. It is believed to be the largest crowd ever at the field, and was definitely one of the best in terms of being loud and enthusiastic. … Alissa Welch, a sophomore at SSHS, sang the national anthem live on national TV just minutes before kickoff. She didn’t find out until the night before that she would be doing it on TV and in the middle of the field. … The concession stand ran by the Band Boosters made more than $6,000, about 50 percent more than normal. … ESPN personnel were pleased with the blue-and-gold outpouring by local businesses on their store fronts. SSHS seniors Alyssa Burney and Katie Dodd decorated more than 20 businesses as part of a fundraiser for Graduation Celebration. … Tom Scofield, ESPN2’s producer for high school game, got his money’s worth in terms of a packed stadium and a rabid crowd, which were reasons Sulphur Springs was picked as the home team. … One thing fans at the game had to endure were longer TV timeouts between many possessions. It’s a small price to pay for being on national television.

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