TATUM – Landon McKinney had a hand in five Sabine touchdowns Friday night at Eagles Stadium – maybe one for every win the Cardinals now have.
Sabine, continuing on its “prove everyone wrong” tour, brought the show here to Tatum on Friday, and left with a 52-41 win in the District 8-3A, Division I debut for the Cardinals.
As mentioned, coach Rex Sharp’s Cardinals are now 5-0 overall and 1-0 in district play. They’ll host Winnsboro next week, and that’s homecoming at Sabine. Tatum drops to 2-4 overall.
After a bye week, Sabine was likely expecting a battle, and they got it. Sabine was up by more than a touchdown on several occasions, but Tatum kept coming back.
Neither team scored on its opening possession, but on Sabine’s second time with the ball, the Cardinals benefitted from an offsides call on Tatum on a fourth-down and 2, giving them a new set of downs. They made the most of it., as McKinney had runs of 15 and 19 yards, respectively, then took the final yard for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead after Fernando Jaimes’ extra point.
Sabine’s defense, led by Carter Patterson and Brent Warren, held the Eagles to another three-and-out, and this time Warren split the offensive line somehow and blocked the punt. With a short field, the Cardinals kept to the ground. Brannigan Willige rumbled 14 yards for the score and a 14-0 lead.
Sabine surprised Tatum with an onside kick, and recovered it to end the first quarter.
With another short field, the Cardinals stuck with their ground game. McKinney kept the ball and scored from 4 yards out, upping the Sabine advantage to 21-0.
Tatum fought back, a grind-it-out, 14-play drive that ended with Decartiyay Allison’s 11-yard touchdown, cutting Sabine’s lead to 21-7.
With under two minutes left in the half, Sabine finally went to the air and caught the Eagles, perhaps, a bit off guard. McKinney found A.J. Gresham open and Gresham took it for a 73-yard touchdown, going up on the Eagles, 28-7.
Not to be outdone, Kendric Malone of Tatum found a wide-open Jayden Boyd for a 50-yard touchdown to get back within two scores, 28-14, the halftime score.
Sabine tried the onside kick surprise again to open the second half, but this time, it didn’t work, and Tatum was able to make the most of it, with Allison scoring four plays later on a 23-yard run. That got the Eagles within a score, 28-21.
Tatum just couldn’t stop Sabine’s offense, though, all night, really, and Sabine would score again after another seven-play drive, with McKinney doing the honors from a yard out (35-21).
On Tatum’s next possession, Sabine did get a great defensive play, an interception by Clayton Simmons. Tatum did slow Sabine enough to force a field goal, but unfortunately, Sharp could send out Fernando Jaimes, who was perfect on the 30-yard try, making it 38-21 Sabine.
Tatum would scare Sabine a bit before the night ended. The Eagles scored on a 16-yard pass from Malone to Boyd, after Malone hit KaVontae Starling for a 16-yard touchdown catch. Tatum rattled the ball loose from Willige on Sabine’s next drive, a rare fumble for Sabine, and Tatum recoverd the ball and scored on a 7-yard run by Malone. Tatum was within three, 38-35, as time expired in the third quarter.
But this year’s Sabine team was up to the task. Sabine forced Tatum’s offense to punt and then, after getting the ball back, McKinney added to the Cardinals’ lead with a 14-yard touchdown, giving Sabine a 45-35 lead. Tatum scored again, a 13-yard touchdown from Malone to Kendall Williams, but they missed the extra point.
An onside kick attempt failed, and with four minutes left at midfield, Sabine put the game away. They ran the clock virtually out, and McKinney found an opening for a 31-yard score, his final – and Sabine’s final – of the game. Cayden Fortson of Sabine intercepted Tatum’s last gasp, a pass by Malone into the end zone.
McKinney finished with 208 yards and all those touchdowns. He also had 116 yards passing and the touchdown to Gresham. Willige had 116 yards rushing and two scores, and 93 receiving yards and the score.