LIBERTY CITY – Sabine finished off the regular season with style here at James Bamberg Stadium, as coach Rex Sharp’s Cardinals beat White Oak, 23-7, and now move on to the UIL Class 3A playoffs.
Sabine (9-1), out of District 8-3A, Division I, will take on coach Art Briles and Mount Vernon (8-2) at Sulphur Springs next Saturday, Nov. 16, at 1 p.m.
The Tigers' losses were to Jefferson and Hooks. They finished the regular season Friday night with a 28-7 win over New Boston. Sabine, of course, lost only to Gladewater. This is the first time for the Cardinals to be in the playoffs in three years, and the first under coach Sharp.
Sabine will be trying to secure its first-ever playoff win in program history.
The Cardinals took an early 7-0 lead on winless White Oak, keeping things on the ground between B.J. Stidham and Landon McKinney. McKinney did the final honors, running it in from 17 yards out. Fernando Jaimes booted the extra point, and Sabine led, 7-0.
White Oak’s night got worse, quickly. The Roughnecks’ first drive started with a delay of game penalty; they managed negative yards on the next two plays, and on third down, Blake Barlow tried a pass to his right and that was intercepted by Cayden Fortson, who took it all the way back for a touchdown, a pick-six. That gave the Cardinals a 14-0 advantage.
Both defenses were stout for the rest of the half. White Oak’s biggest play was a 46-yard pass to Colton Cobb, but the Cardinals’ defense stopped them at the 5-yard-line. Bre’den Ford intercepted a White Oak pass to end the half with Sabine still up 14-0.
Sabine’s first possession of the second half did stall, but the Cardinals did get points out of it: a 40-yard field goal by Jaimes, and a 17-0 lead. That would be the only third-quarter score.
Sabine’s next field goal, in the fourth quarter, was partially blocked. The Cardinals’ defense, though, led by Tristan Green, Asher Foster and Brent Warren on the line, stopped the Roughnecks and forced a punt.
On the first play after, Sabine fumbled the ball, and White Oak would get its only score of the game: an 8-yard pass from Barlow to Jackson Frazier. Sam Dusek caught a 13-yarder to set it up. After the extra point, White Oak trailed just 17-7.
With about nine minutes left in the game, Sabine went into clock management mode. Brannigan Willige carried for 13, and then a pair of 6-yard runs. A double reverse to Fortson netted 23, and a 13-yard pass from McKinney to Burns put the ball on the White Oak 2-yard-line. McKinney took the final two for the score, and a blocked extra point left the final at 23-7.
McKinney led with 103 yards and the two touchdowns. Willige had 55 rushing yards.