HARLETON – On a beautiful full moon Friday the 13th, the Sabine Cardinals traveled east to take on the Harleton Wildcats.
And they came home 3-0.
Sabine ran over the Wildcats, 48-14, behind three touchdowns passing from Landon McKinney in the Cardinals’ first road game of the season. They’ll be on the road again next Friday night, too, traveling to Elkhart.
Sabine didn’t waste any time early. McKinney went to the air with a 39-yard pass to Clayton Simmons and then an 18-yard pass to Jace Burns. B.J. Stidham took the final yard for the opening score in 57 seconds off the clock to give Sabine the 7-0 edge.
Harleton(now 2-1) took the deep kick and kept to the ground, but never got anything moving and was forced to punt. After a short punt, the Cardinals had good field position. Unfortunately, the Wildcat defense held and got the ball after a fourth-and-1 failed.
The Cardinal defense held strong and again forced a punt. This time the offense went back to the air. McKinney found A.J. Gresham for 14, then Weston Pritchard for 25.
The drive ended with Gresham catching a 5-yard touchdown and a 14-point lead.
The Wildcats moved the ball but were faced with a fourth and 8 to start the second quarter.
The quarter began with Carter Patterson bursting through the offensive line and sacking the Harleton quarterback for a 6-yard loss and a turnover on downs.
Two possessions later, McKinney went to work in the air again. He found Pritchard for a 38-yard catch and run for the touchdown and a 21-point lead.
Harleton held the ball for the remainder of the half except for the last minute. The last minute mattered, as it turned out.
With six seconds left, Sabine’s offense gave kicker Fernando Jaimes a short 35-yard field goal that he hit perfectly to give coach Rex Sharp’s team a 24-0 halftime lead.
The Wildcats took the second-half kickoff and dominated the time of possession.
That did not translate to a win.
They used 12 plays and over 9 minutes before Grayson Handlin tossed a 15-yard pass to Hunter Wallace for the touchdown.
The Cardinals didn’t need much time as McKinney went to the air and scored in two plays. The final one was a 59-yard touchdown pass to Burns.
Ty Francisco recovered a Harleton fumble for Sabine, and got the ball within Jaimes’ range. He promptly booted a 43-yard field goal and a 34-7 lead to end the third quarter.
The fourth quarter reflected the third as the Wildcats ran the clock. This time they went to the air and the Cardinals tipped a pass, which fell into the arms of JoJo Clark for a 27-yard touchdown.
After an onside kick, the Cardinals had a short field. Staying to the ground, Stidham was able to cap off the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run.
But there would be one more score. A hurried pass and a wise defender and Sabine’s Clayton Simmons ran a 51-yard interception for the final score.
McKinney finished with 244 yards passing and the three touchdowns, Stidham had 41 yards on the ground and two scores. Pritchard had 98 yard receiving and a touchdown. The unsung star was Jaimes, with his two field goals and six extra points.