LIBERTY CITY – As the calendar turns to the month of October, the Sabine Cardinals have an unbeaten District 6-3A, Division I record.
Emphatically so, in fact.
Sabine hosted the Atlanta Rabbits Friday night, here at James Bamberg Stadium, and the Rabbits were – well, roasted, 38-6.
Coach Rex Sharp and his Cardinals, who are 2-0 in district play, have won three straight games, travel to Jefferson for another.
Sabine’s Alex Galyean returned the opening kickoff 22 yards to the Cardinals’ 32-yard-line, sparking the team right out of the gate. Quarterback Jace Burns found Galyean for an 8-yard completion, and after a 4-yard run by the always-reliable Brannigan Willige, Burns found Kile Stripland for 16 yards, then Willige and Burns alternated until Burns scored on a 6-yard run.
Dylan Stafford added the extra point for a 7-0 Sabine early lead.
Atlanta – off to an 0-5 and now 0-6 start, began deep in their territory and the Cardinals’ defense kept it that way. They held them to 14 yards and forced a punt. This time, the Cardinals utilized the passing game as Burns connected on three pass plays: two to Cayden Fortson and one to Stripland.
On the fifth play of the drive, Burns broke free and sprinted for a 49-yard touchdown, his second of four on the night. The extra point doubled Sabine’s lead to 14-0.
The Rabbits began to use their speed with Daniel Hernandez. He quickly gained 25 yards on three carries. They went to the well too many times, though, as Hernandez was met hard by the Sabine defense. He coughed up the ball and Caden Richardson pounced on it for the recovery. Sabine turned the ball over, too, though, on its next drive, finishing off the first quarter.
The teams traded possessions, until Atlanta’s Jack Plunk went back to pass, and the ball slipped out of his hands. Sabine’s Riley Roys recovered. Atlanta’s defense held again, but this time, Sabine was in field goal range and Stafford booted a 38 yarder for a 17-0 lead, the eventual halftime score after Fortson intercepted and returned the ball 40 yards to end the half.
Largely on the legs of La’Randion Dowden, Atlanta marched downfield and reached Sabine’s 24, but a fourth-down pass came up short and they turned it over on downs. The next Atlanta possession didn’t go much better: Plunk went to the air, and this time, Sabine’s Stripland came up with the interception. Willige pounded out the yards and Burns took it for the final 7 for another Cardinals’ touchdown late in the third.
Atlanta began their drive in the third quarter and started the fourth with a second-and-goal from the 3. Dowden bowled his way in for the score. With the failed two-point conversion, Sabine led 24-6.
Austin Swanson recovered a fumble for the Cardinals, yet another Atlanta turnover, and Burns broke free for a 37-yard score, his fourth of the night, and a 31-6 lead.
Stripland picked off Plunk again, and on the final Sabine score of the night, it was Willige doing the honors on a big play, a 77-yard touchdown run.
The game fittingly ended on a stripped fumble by Atlanta, stripped by Fortson and recovered by Stripland.
Burns ended the night with 139 yards on the ground and the four touchdown runs. He added 141 through the air. Willige finished with 131 and the dynamic 77-yard final touchdown. Galyeon had 50 receiving yards, and Stripland had 29. On defense, Stripland had the two interceptions and a fumble recovery, and Fortson had the end-of-the-first-half pick.