SULPHUR SPRINGS-A much-anticipated high school football game on Friday proved to be worth the wait.
The Sulphur Springs Wildcats (District 14-4A) hosted the Sherman Bearkats (District 13-4A) September 7 in a huge offensive showdown, and yet another nail-biter for both teams, with Sherman prevailing 49-44 over Sulphur Springs.
Last week both teams had rather exciting games, with Sulphur Springs needing an extra quarter to get by 5A Tyler Lee 35-34 as Lee failed a two point conversion, and Sherman squeaking by Little Elm 57-56 in overtime. And this game would prove to be just as exciting, most likely to the chagrin of both head coaches’ heart specialists.
Kickoff at Gerald Prim Stadium was at 7:30, and at that time it was a scorching 102 degrees. The Wildcats were in their home blues with white numbers, yellow trim, and a helmet logo featuring two S’s, and the Bearkats were in road white with maroon lettering and one S on their helmets.
Sulphur Springs won the toss, and elected to receive. Joseph Harvey kicked off to start the game, and sent it scorching out of the end zone.
The Wildcats started the game on their own 25, and on that first drive quarterback Brad Macek passed the ball to receivers Jordan Jackson and Cole Hill, and running back Buddy Ivery rushed as well, grabbing two first downs for Sulphur Springs. But then on the 4th play of the drive, Macek got a bad snap from center Landon Watkins and had to scramble to recover it. He did, but was then gang-tackled by the Sherman defense and temporarily knocked out of the game. Sherman was awarded a 15-yard penalty for a late hit.
So the Wildcats’ other quarterback, Derrick Ingram, came onto the field. Ingram would complete his first two passes, and he and Buddy Ivery would each grab a few yards on the ground, but the Wildcats would turn it over on downs, handing it back to the Bearkats on the Sherman 40.
The Bearkats looked a little rusty on their first drive, with senior running back Josh Fleming losing a yard on their first play, and quarterback Dru Smith missing his first two targets. The Bearkats punter Harvey came out and booted it to the Sulphur Springs 21.
The Wildcats had something to cheer for in their second drive as Macek came back onto the field and immediately led the Wildcats 79 yards down the field for a touchdown, distributing the ball to Willy Ivery, Hill, and Jackson, and Buddy Ivery rumbling for another 12 yards. The touchdown pass went to Hill, and the score with 6:49 left in the first quarter was 7-0 Sulphur Springs.
The kickoff was fair caught on the Sherman 12, and the Bearkats still looked a little rusty, gaining only 5 yards on a pass from Smith to Jaquay Pough and a rush by junior running back Trey Mask before punting it again.
This time the Wildcats wouldn’t be able to capitalize on Bearkat mistakes though, with Macek and Ivery only gaining 9 before punting it right back to the Bearkats.
The Bearkats would get the ball on their 49, and that’s when they got it into gear. Mask would gain 18 yards and Smith pass for 31 (throwing exclusively to Pough), and after just 37 seconds, the score was 7-7 with 3:21 left in the first.
Harvey would again kick it off the end zone, and the Cats would only have the ball for 14 seconds. Ingram came back on the field and passed to a well-defended Larry Pryor, who would fumble the ball. It was recovered by Sherman’s Jerille Hughes, and suddenly the Bearkats had the ball on the Sulphur Springs 23.
They wouldn’t waste the opportunity. Mask gained 23 yards on 4 rushes and score, making it 14-7 with 1:40 left in the first.
But the Wildcats would answer. After 3 straight incomplete passes by Ingram, Sulphur Springs would instead try the ground game, and found what they needed, getting a 15 yard dead ball foul from Sherman and driving 60 yards on the feet of Ingram, Buddy Ivery, and Willy Ivery. Ingram ran it in, and the score with 9:12 left in the half was 14-14.
But then the Bearkats would show their quick strike capability. Smith threw a pass to JT Luper for 10 yards and another for 72 yards to Kiaron McKinney, and one minute later, it was 21-14 Sherman.
Macek would command the next Wildcat drive, and it too proved successful. Buddy Ivery ran twice, and Macek hit Hill twice including the 49-yard touchdown reception, taking the Wildcats 73 yard in about a minute and a half. With 6:45 left ‘til halftime, it was all tied up again, 21-21.
But the Bearkats would strike again, scoring on a single play, a 79 yard run by Mask. Just ten seconds later, it was 28-21 Sherman.
The kickoff rumbled out of the end zone again, but Sulphur Springs got a dead ball foul, and they started on their own 13. Forty seconds and 28 yards later after two straight incomplete passes from Macek, the ball was punted back to the Bearkats.
And Sherman would capitalize again. Smith showed he could scramble, gaining 23 yards on a broken play, and then threw it to Pough 50 yards for a touchdown. With 4:03 left in the half, it was 35-21 Sherman.
This time Harvey didn’t manage to kick it out of the end zone, and Sulphur Springs responded. Willy Ivery returned the ball 41 yards, giving the Cats good field position.
The Wildcats would get two penalties but overcome them with Ingram hitting Colton Wise for a 79-yard touchdown pass. The score with 3:03 left in the half, it was 35-29.
Sulphur Springs’ Brennan Brock would intercept Smith on the next drive, but Sulphur Springs would punt it back, and the Bearkats would drive halfway down the field before the half ended. At the end of the first half, the score was 35 Sherman 29 Sulphur Springs.
The Bearkats got the ball to start the second half, and they would get to the Sulphur Springs 23 before Mask fumbled the ball. Zach Spigner recovered for the Cats.
But the Cats would give it right back, with Macek being intercepted by Jordon Jones.
Smith passed for 20 yards, and Mask would rumble through several Cat defenders on his only rush of the drive for 59 yards and a touchdown. With 7:11 left in the third, it was 42-29 Sherman.
On the next drive for Sulphur Springs things really got dire. Macek would throw another interception, and the Bearkats would drive down to the Wildcat 18 before missing a 35-yard field goal attempt.
The Wildcats got the ball back, but had to punt again after getting a holding penalty.
The Bearkats got the ball on their own 28, and though they ended the third quarter on a two yard loss by MJ Barrett, two plays later Smith would connect with Luper for a 74 yard touchdown pass, and the score was 49-29 with 11 minutes left in the fourth.
The Wildcats were down and almost out, and their next drive didn’t help. Ingram would get sacked, throw an incomplete pass, and the Cats would grab a false start penalty. Though Ingram gained 7 yards on third down, it wasn’t enough, and the Cats punted again.
But on the next Bearkat drive, the Sulphur Springs defense would hold.
Macek would get the next drive, but again the Cats couldn’t do much on offense. They would turn it over on downs on the Sherman 11.
But the Wildcat defense would hold again, and the Bearkats would attempt to punt on their own 17. Right at that moment the wind picked up, and the snap would sail over the punter’s head for an automatic safety. With 3:45 left in the game, the score was 49-31, and the Cats got the ball back.
Sulphur Springs was energized by this twist of fate, and after a 30 yard return by Willy Ivery, Macek would take the Cats 54 yards in just 31 seconds, scoring on a 13 yard pass to Hill. With 3:02 left in the game, it was 49-38.
The Cats would attempt an onside kick, but Sherman would recover. There’s now 2:58 left in the game.
The Bearkats started the drive on their own 36, and it looked like they would win for sure. But fate would intervene again, and after Trey Mask broke free for a 21 yard rush, he fumbled the ball while being gang-tackled by Sulphur Springs. The call was somewhat controversial, but with no replay, the Wildcats had the ball with just 2:45 left.
Macek would play the hero role well, leading the Wildcats on another quick drive (69 yards in about 1:00). After a failed two point conversion, it was 49-44 Sherman with less than two minutes left in the game.
Sulphur Springs would attempt another onside kick, but Sherman would again recover, with the ball bouncing straight into the hands of Isaiah Lacy.
Mask gained another 40 yards on the ground, and then Sherman assumed the classic end game formation in Sulphur Springs territory. Smith kneeled to end the game. Final score-49 Sherman, 44 Sulphur Springs.
Brak Macek: 23-31, 374 yards, 4 tds, 2 int
Derrick Ingram: 8-13, 125 yards, 1 td
Dru Smith: 18-26, 354 yards, 4 tds
Cole Hill: 13 for 146 yards, 3 tds
Colton Wise: 6 for 144 yards, 1 td
Willy Ivery: 5 for 106 yards, 1 td
Jordan Jackson: 4 for 63 yards
Elijah Mosley: 1 for 24 yards
Alex Burney: 1 for 24 yards
J.T. Luper: 6 for 111 yards, 1 td
Kiaron McKinney: 2 for 126 yards, 1 td
Ja’Quay Pough: 6 for 94 yards, 2 td
Trey Mask: 1 for -5 yards
Jason Chavez: 1 for 5 yards
Buddy Ivery: 22 for 126 yards
Derrick Ingram: 7 for 23 yards, 1 td
Willy Ivery: 2 for 12 yards
Mitchell DeYoung: 1 for -1 yards
Tre’ Mask: 239 yards, 3 tds, 2 fum
Josh Fleming: 2 for -1 yards
Dru Smith: 1 for 23 yards
MJ Barrett: 1 for -2 yards
Jerome Cotton: 1 for 4 yards
The two teams combined for 1,281 yards offensively and 93 points, Sulphur Springs gaining 666 yards and Sherman gaining 621. Before the loss, Sulphur Springs was ranked 16 in the state, and are now 39. Sherman was 32, and is now 14.