LIBERTY CITY – Sabine continues to re-write its football legacy with every game, seemingly, and on Friday night, while some might have expected the Cardinals to fall back to earth in a home game against West Rusk, the Cards had other plans.
Coming off a hard-fought, exciting victory in the season opener at Spring Hill, the Cardinals opened their home schedule at James Bamberg Stadium with a 29-7 win over a solid Raiders squad.
Sabine (2-0) will host Daingerfield next Friday, Sept. 11. West Rusk (0-1), who didn’t get to play their first game due to Hurricane Laura weather-related issues last weekend, will visit Mineola.
A stiff Raiders’ defense forced Sabine into a three-and-out and a punt on the opening series, but Sabine got the ball right back: on the first offensive play of the season for West Rusk, talented Jimmie Harper broke free for a 20-yard gain, but in the tackle attempt, Sabine defenders punched the ball out, and Kile Stripland recovered it for the Cardinals.
In spite of a 17-yard run by Dayton Branham, West Rusk put Sabine into punting position again.
Starting deep in their own end of the field, West Rusk’s offense was forced to punt, and this time, SHS quarterback Jace Burns found Branham on a 24-yard pass play. Two plays later, Branham, behind a good Sabine offensive line, punched it into the end zone for a 2-yard score, the first of the game. The point after was missed, but Sabine claimed a 6-0 lead.
Sabine forced WR to punt again, and Cayden Fortson returned it 17 yards, giving the Cardinals the ball in West Rusk territory. It didn’t take long: Burns connected with Fortson on the ensuing first down play, a 41-yard touchdown pass. Eduardo Jaimes hit the point after and the Cardinals took a 13-0 lead.
In the second quarter, West Rusk managed to get the ball into Sabine territory, but turned the ball over on downs. This see-sawed a bit, until finally, on the final drive of the half, Branham picked up a 13-yard run, and then Burns reeled off 11. The drive stalled, but close enough for Jaimes to deliver with a 37-yard field goal, giving Sabine a 16-0 halftime advantage.
Turnovers marred the second half somewhat. After a West Rusk punt early in the third quarter, Sabine turned the ball back over via a fumble, and West Rusk’s Jeremiah Edwards recovered. Sabine returned the favor, stripping the ball from West Rusk on the Raiders’ next series.
The teams traded possessions back and forth through the third quarter, and then finally, after Branham gave Sabine a first down on a 12-yard run, Burns hit Stripland for a 24-yard gain, and then the quarterback took it the final 3 yards for the touchdown. Jaimes’ extra point attempt hit the upright, leaving the score at 22-0.
The stiff Cardinal defense forced the Raiders to pass and Caden Richardson was able to snag an interception for the Cardinals. This drive was stalled but allowed Jaimes to attempt a 46-yard field goal that was just wide left ending the quarter.
Sabine would add a fourth-quarter score, a 7-yard run by Burns.
West Rusk did get onto the scoreboard. Quarterback Andon Mata found Omarion Smith for a key 12-yard pass play, and then again on a 24-yard touchdown pass.
James Greenalch ran for 47 yards for the Raiders. Harper finished with 42 yards. Mata was 6-of-16 for 74 yards passing. Anthony had two catches for 38 yards and the late touchdown. Will Jackson had a pair of catches for 23 yards.
Sabine is now 12-3 in its last 15 games, dating back to the season opener in 2019.