Smiles, memories from a special game

By Don Wallace, News-Telegram Sports Editor

Sept. 12, 2008 - They walked away but their smiles never left their fans.

Fans stormed the field, hugged a few necks. Then walked on air to the parking lot following the 22-16 Sulphur Springs win over Wichita Falls Rider.

For Rider, they faced a long ride home, some four hours into the Texas night as the ESPN2 cameras got ready for the next road trip.

The idea of ESPN2 coming to do a real Texas high school game started some nine months ago. Now fans and administrators will say it was certainly worth it.

As Wildcats head coach Greg Owens said it's a lasting memory of a lifetime theycan one day tell their kids about.

For now it is a big win. But one that did not win state or even count in district. But as surely as stew willl be cooked next week, this game will be remembered for decades.

Carla Owens kissed her husband, Greg the head coach as she smiled widely and looked over the crowd.

"I know the kids and coaches put in the long hours. They put everything into it, it's fun to when you get a win like this," Carla Owens said.

Moments after the game, senior wide receiver Jace Jackson was still excited,

"It was pretty incredible to win a game like this on ESPN," Jackson said. "This was a great effort by everybody. Wichita Falls is tough, but we played not even our best, but we got a win. I think this game was the biggest in the history of the program."

The Sulphur Springs defense picked off two passes and held the No.7-ranked team out of the end zone when the game was on the line.

Team leader junior linebacker Tyler Higginbotham was overjoyed after the game.

"We just came out and played crazy, "Higginbotham said. "Nobody thought we could do this.

I thought I had another pick (interception), but I missed it. This game was big, we finally figured out who we are. A lot of people doubt the defense, but we stepped it up."

The game featured two of the top quarterbacks in the nation in Sulphur Springs' Tyrik Rollison and Michigan future star Shavodrick Beavers of Wichita Falls Rider.

"The game was intense. We played hard, I had a slow start," Rollison said. "We had a great second half. I had one of my worst game. Beaver is a good quarterback, It was a good battle between me and him."

The senior signal-caller continued, "To win this game on TV, is beyond good. It's crazy. I am really speechless."

No. 7 walked away, but his smile never left his face.

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