GLADEWATER – Sabine’s undefeated season is no more, unfortunately, having ended Friday night here at Jack Murphy Stadium.
Gladewater has never lost to Sabine in a series that dates back to 1986, and that streak stayed alive on Friday, as the Bears upset the previously-unbeaten Cardinals, 40-16.
Sabine, now 8-1, is going to make the UIL Class 3A Division I playoffs, but exactly what seed in the district has yet to be determined. Next weekend is the final week of the regular season – the Cardinals will host White Oak. Gladewater will face Tatum in a game that could shake up the district: if Tatum were to win, several tiebreakers will come into play.
But Friday night, it was all about Cardinals vs. Bears.
Sabine went three-and-out on its first drive of the game, and with a short field after a good defensive stand, Gladewater moved methodically, and scored, an 11-yard touchdown pass from Tristan Holmes to Jailyn Robertson. Eligia Carter ran in for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 Gladewater advantage.
The Cardinals couldn’t find any real estate with their ground game, so quarterback Landon McKinney went to the air – specifically to A.J. Gresham for an 18-yard completion. The drive was short-lived, though, as McKinney overthrew a receiver and the Bears’ Landon Ellis intercepted, something Sabine had been able to stay away from, for the most part, during its eight-game winning streak.
The very next play from scrimmage, Gladewater increased its lead with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Holmes to D.J. Allen. The Bears missed the conversion, but still led, 14-0.
Back to the running game, McKinney and B.J. Stidham were able to reel off runs of 12 and 10 yards, but on the next play, a pass by McKinney was tipped an intercepted.
The second quarter began with Gladewater deep in Sabine territory. Gladewater returned the favor – Holmes threw a short pass that went into the hands of Sabine’s Clayton Simmons for a pick. Two plays later, McKinney found Jace Burns down the left sideline and he sprinted 68 yards for the score. Fernando Jaimes made the extra point and Gladewater’s lead was cut in half, 14-7.
Gladewater put together a nice response, though, a clock-eating drive that finished with a 12-yard touchdown run by Carter, and a 20-7 lead.
With the time remaining in the half, McKinney found Gresham for an 11-yard gain, and then took the ball for 30 yards on a run. Gladewater ultimately forced a 22-yard field goal by Jaimes, and made it 20-10.
Sabine got another turnover, a Bre’den Ford interception, but McKinney threw his third interception of the night on the Cardinals’ next drive, and the Bears turned that into points. With less than a minute in the half, Holmes found Allen for a 43-yard one-handed catch for a fourth Gladewater touchdown and, after Carter’s two-point conversion, a 28-10 halftime lead for the Bears.
Gladewater stunned Sabine with a touchdown, a 45-yard pass from Holmes to Allen, on the second play of the third quarter. Gladewater missed the conversion, but led, 34-10. Sabine hit right back, a 61-yard touchdown from McKinney to Graham that allowed the Cardinals to cut the lead to 34-16.
Those were the only scores of the third quarter, and there would be just one more: a 17-yard fourth-quarter run by Gladewater’s Malachi Gordon.
Sabine didn’t give up, as McKinney aired it out to Stidham for a 33-yard catch and run, but the Bears’ defense stripped him of the ball. Sabine had a fumble recovery of its own by Brent Warren, but the deficit was more than the Cardinals could overcome.
McKinney threw for 257 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Gresham had 115 yards receiving and a touchdown.