As the sun sets in the west over Dragon Stadium, the Sabine Cardinals, traveled to far East Texas to take on the Shelbyville Dragons.
It paid off. The Cardinals picked up their first win of the year, beating the Dragons, 38 -20.
Coach Rex Sharp’s Cardinals (1-1) host Harleton next Friday night, Sabine’s homecoming.
The Cardinals won the toss and began powering downfield with a strong running game. Then, quarterback Landon McKinney went to the air and completed a 19-yard pass to Clayton Simmons. Two plays later, though, the Cardinals fumble the ball on the exchange.
Shelbyville’s Sawyer Hendricks picked the ball out of the air and rumbled 55 yards for the touchdown. A successful two-point conversion put the Dragons up 8-0.
On the 12th play of the next possession, the Cardinals turned the ball over on downs at the Shelbyville 5-yard line.
The Dragon offense finally made it on the field with 4 minutes left in the quarter. Using a lineup where there is no designated quarterback, the ball was snapped over the head of the running back. He picked it up in the end zone and was able to throw it away. In came the yellow flag, intentional grounding in the end zone. It was a safety for Sabine, who trailed 8-2.
After the safety kickoff, Sabine’s Kobe Renfro plowed through the line to gain good yards. Then McKinney found Clayton Simmons and AJ Gresham to move the ball to the Dragon 24. McKinney, Renfro, and B.J. Stidham took turns, with McKinney going the final 4 yards to take the lead, 9-8, to end the first quarter.
The second quarter saw both teams move between the 20’s and lots of yellow laundry, penalty flags, on the field. Sabine trotted out Fernando Jaimes to attempt a 44-yard field goal. The kick was just long enough, and the Cardinals went into the half with a 12-8 lead.
The Dragons took the second half kickoff and scored on their sixth play, but missed the extra point (14-12 Shelbyville). McKinney and his offense kept a balance of running with Brannigan Willige and passing to Tucker Gabriel.
The final play found Gabriel wide open for a 34-yard score. Taking back the lead, the Cardinal defense, led by Renfro, Braedon Perry, and Willige, held the Dragons to a three-and-out. With the ball back in the offensive hands, the Cardinals continued to slice through the Dragon defense. This time, Willige took the final 11 yards for the score and a 25-14 edge. A short kick by the Cards found them recovering it deep in Dragon territory.
Early in the fourth, Willige got his second touchdown, a 4-yarder and a 32-14 lead. The Dragons still had some life in them and they scored a 10-yard pass play to cut the lead to 32-20.
With four minutes left, McKinney scored on a 9-yard run to ice the game. Sabine’s Hunter Austin snuffed out the Dragons with an interception in the end zone on the contest’s last drive.
McKinney was 14-of-21 for 208 yards and a touchdown through the air and 116 rushing yards, with two touchdowns. Willige finished with 51 on the ground and two scores. Gresham had 84 receiving yards and Gabriel had 70, and a touchdown.