LIBERTY CITY – Week two of Texas high school football is here, and the Sabine Cardinals are 2-0.
Shelbyville traveled to Sabine Friday night to take on the Cardinals at James Bamberg Stadium, both coming off impressive wins in week one. But Sabine was the only one impressive here in this one, rolling to a 47-7 win.
Coach Rex Sharp and the Cardinals, who have outscored their opponents, 81-10 in two games, visit Harleton next Friday.
The Dragons won the toss and elected to receive the ball. Jaylon Brinson carried on the first play for 8 yards. That was about all they were able to get as the Cardinal defense forced a punt.
The Cardinals immediately went to their workhorse, B.J. Stidham, who weaved through the line for 15 yards. Quarterback Landon McKinney, who had a big night – he had a hand in five touchdowns – went to the air and found Clayton Simmons for a 9-yard gain. But the big play of the drive came when McKinney found Simmons for a 45-yard completion. That is where it stopped as the Dragon defense held forcing a field goal attempt.
The Dragon line blew through the Cardinal line and LD Coleman blocked the kick and AJ Cartwright scooped it up. He was finally tackled at the Sabine 41. Making for a short field, Dragon QB Jordan Boykins handed off to Brinson, who sprinted 20 yards and then the final 10 to take an early 7-point lead.
Unfortunately for Shelbyville, that would be the one and only score of the night.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Cardinals returned the ball, but fumbled on the tackle giving it back to the Dragons. Aided by yellow laundry, the Dragons moved backward and the Cardinal defense held forcing a turnover on downs.
This drive, McKinney kept the ball on the ground, handing off to Stidham, who promptly ran for 22 and 11 yards. A reverse to Simmons brought excitement as the ball looked to be fumbled and Keldrick Wilson scooped it up and returned it 90 yards. Lucky for the Cardinals, the ball was blown dead and they had it first down at the Dragons’ 11. The quarter ended with the Cardinals facing a fourth and 1 at the 1.
On the first play of the second quarter, McKinney kept the ball and walked into the end zone with Fernando Jaimes’ extra point, tying the score at 7.
Shelbyville kept their play style going with Brinson running and Boykins doing short passes. They moved down to the Cardinal 30-yard-line with a 25-yard pass to Coleman. On the next play Boykins pass was tipped and Cayden Fortson intercepted and returned it 69 yards to the go ahead score.
Things would get no better for Shelbyville. The Cardinal defense held the Dragons and forced a punt. On the next play McKinney found AJ Gresham for a 75-yard catch and sprint to take a halftime lead of 20-7.
The Dragons kicked off to start the second half. They attempted an onside kick that the Cardinals recovered, making for a short field. Stidham went back to work for a 32-yard gain. Then McKinney took the final carry for the touchdown and Stidham added the two-point conversion to take a 28-7 lead.
The Dragons couldn’t get anything going against the Cardinal defense and the Cardinals forced a turnover on downs.
Both teams traded punts then Stidham and McKinney again went to work. Stidham carried for 32 of the yards and McKinney again took the final 12 yards for the touchdown. The extra point was blocked, but the Cardinals were up 34-7. Shelbyville was forced to go to the air, and it hurt them as Jace Burns intercepted a pass, giving the ball back to the Cardinals.
This turnover took the game into the fourth quarter and the Cardinals weren’t done yet.
McKinney found Gresham for a 43-yard touchdown over the middle. The missed conversion left the score at 40-7.
Sabine’s defense, led by Ty Francisco, Brent Warren and Rodolfo Fierros, stopped the Dragons, forcing a punt. With the starters on the bench, the Cardinals were not done yet. Brannigan Willige carried the ball to run the clock down. Then Gresham, in for McKinney, found Kole Stripland for a 6-yard touchdown pass to end the scoring.
The stars of the game included McKinney, who had 215 yards passing for two touchdowns and ran for three more; Gresham, who had had 131 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns and the one passing score; Stidham, who followed last week’s 302-yard effort with 124 yards rushing and 22 receiving against Shelbyville, and on defense, Fortson, who had the 69-yard interception for the touchdown.