LIBERTY CITY -- As thunderstorms rolled over East Texas, the Elkhart Elks traveled north to take on the Sabine Cardinals. The Elks were herded out of town with a 45-25 Cardinal win.
Next week the Cardinals (3-1) have a bye week as they prepare for district play. That will begin Oct. 5 at home against Tatum.
The Elks won the toss and kicked off to the Cardinals. With the ball wet, the Cards moved downfield on the ground. BJ Stidham took the bulk of the carries. The Elks put pressure on the Cards and forced a turnover on downs.
On their second play from scrimmage, the ball slipped out of the ballcarrier's hands and the Cardinals' Asher Foster landed on it for the recovery. But Elkhart again held and took over on downs.
This time on their second play, Landry Mays found Holden Bush for a 70-yard touchdown and an early 7-0 lead.
The Cardinal offense went back to work. Kobe Renfro was the featured player as he ran the ball and caught an 18-yard pass from Landon McKinney. The final play of the drive was a 17-yard run up the middle by Renfro. Fernando Jaimes made the extra point to tie the score.
Sabine's defense stepped it up and again forced a fumble, recovered by Bra’den Ford.
McKinney and Stidham traded carries and the Cardinals moved downfield. When McKinney went to the air he found AJ Gresham for a 1-yard touchdown and the first lead of the game.
Elkhart went to the air and found RJ Moore for a 16-yard touchdown. The missed extra point kept the Cards in the lead.
Being aggressive, McKinney found Tucker Gabriel across the middle for a 24-yard gain. Gabriel caught an 11-yard pass before McKinney ran the final two yards for a 21-13 lead. Sabine's Jaimes hit a 41-yard field goal as time ran out in the half and the Cardinals took a 24-13 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Sabine scored again. Renfro took it 19 yards to the house and a 31-13 advantage.
After trading punts, the Elks were deep on their side of the field when Renfro sacked their quarterback, who fumbled. Brannigan Willige did a scoop and score to increase the Cardinal lead to 38-13.
Elkhart scored but missed the two-point conversion, and trailed 38-19.
Late in the game, Stidham took the bulk of the carries and went end around for the final 3 yards. Elkhart scored late to end all the scoring.
Offensively, McKinney ended with 154 yards in the air and 94 on the ground, with one touchdown each. Stidham had 74 yards and a touchdown, and Tucker Gabriel had 83 yards receiving. Gresham had 43 and a touchdown.
The defense was led by Willige and Renfro. Willige had a sack and a fumble recovery for a touchdown, while Renfro had 2 sacks and a fumble recovery.