LIBERTY CITY – Jace Burns lived up to his name Friday night, throwing for almost 400 yards and four touchdowns, but for as much offense as they did put up, the Sabine Cardinals just couldn’t get past Gladewater.
The Gladewater Bears, who also hold a non-district victory over the Kilgore Bulldogs this year, once again outlasted Sabine Friday night, here at James Bamberg Stadium, 63-44. Burns and Gladewater quarterback Tristan Holmes combined for 10 touchdown passes in a wild game; D.J. Allen scored five touchdowns for the Bears, and Kaden Manning three for the Cardinals.
Sabine (3-6 overall) will end the 2020 regular season next Friday night at Tatum.
The Cardinals gave their fans a reason to cheer early. On the Cardinals’ very first play on the game’s opening series, Burns found Kile Stripland for a nice 15-yard completion, and then set the tone for the entire game on the next play, a streaking Kaden Manning for a 60-yard catch-and-run for the first score of the game. Eduardo Jaimes’ extra point gave Sabine an early 7-0 lead.
After the offense’s explosive start, the Cardinals’ defense came out firing, as well.
The Bears did pick up 26 yards on their first series, but Sabine’s D forced them off the field after Gladewater turned the ball over, failing to convert on a fourth down.
Going to the ground game, Burns ran for 8 and 6 yards, respectively. The drive stalled, but Sabine still got close enough for Jaimes to hit a 45-yard field goal, giving Sabine a 10-0 lead.
That seemed to wake the Bears up as they quickly went to the combo of quarterback Tristan Holmes to receiver D.J. Allen. On their third play, Holmes found Allen open on a busted play for a 39-yard touchdown. The extra point by Justice Hassek cut the lead to 10-7. The Bears’ defense forced the Cardinals to punt on their next possession to end the first quarter.
The second quarter started like the first ended. Holmes found Allen for 20, then he ran for 11. The next play was a 28-yard pass to Allen for his second touchdown and a 14-10Gladewater lead.
Burns was sacked on the Cards’ first play of their next drive, and then it got worse, when a pass up the middle was snagged by the Bears’ Ben Alavarez. The Bears took this turnover and Holmes found Allen yet again for a 29-yard touchdown, his third of the game, and a 21-10 lead.
After getting the ball back off a Sabine punt, Holmes went to the other side and found K’Havia Reese for 31 yards and the final yard was taken by Holmes on a 1-yard touchdown run. A penalty on the extra point allowed the Bears to go for two and Malachi Gordon took it in for a 29-10 lead.
Still in the first half, Sabine’s offense didn’t Manning took the kickoff for 35 yards, giving the Cards a short field. A nice pass from Burns to Alex Galyean for 8 yards was followed by Burns breaking through and going 35 yards for the score, cutting the lead to 29-17.
The Cardinals attempted an onside kick that failed, and a penalty on top of that gave the Bears a short field.
On the second play, Holmes found Reese for a 44-yard touchdown and a 36-17 lead.
With time running out in the half, the Cardinals attempted a fake punt, but it failed, and the Bears took over on downs. That wound up being perhaps more than Sabine could bounce back from, as Gladewater would put it into the end zone once more in the first half: Holmes found Gordon for the 5-yard touchdown and a halftime lead of 43 – 17.
To open the second half, the Cardinals attempted an onside kick that failed, giving the Bears a short field. They would make the most of it.
Holmes kept the ball and rumbled for 44 yards to the Sabine 6-yard-line. Allen then took the handoff for the final 6, and the Bears upped their lead to 49-17.
During halftime, Burns apparently ate his Wheaties. First, Brannigan Willige broke free for 41 yards, then Burns found Cayden Fortson on the sideline, where he tiptoed the line for a 45-yard touchdown.
The Cardinal defense continued to pressure and on fourth down, Willige sacked Holmes for a turnover on downs. Burns then found Manning for a 40 -yard completion and Daylon Branham took the final 11 yards for the score.
Up 49-30, Sabine’s defense pressured Holmes and forced an errant throw that Manning intercepted.
The fourth started with Burns finding Alex Galyean for 22 yards, then Manning wide open for a 34-yard score, Sabine’s third unanswered touchdown. The Bears had to be getting a little worried, as the Cardinals had gotten within striking distance, 49-37.
Holmes and the Bears offense quickly dispensed that notion, though, as he found Kolin Lewis for 27 yards and then Gordon scored from 5 yards out, and a 56-37 lead.
Burns was not through, though, with another rabbit out of his hat, as he led the Cardinals downfield again. This time he found Galyean for 17 and then he went deep for Manning, who hauled in a 57-yard catch and run for the touchdown.
With just over five minutes left in the game, the Bears knew they had to hold onto the ball. They kept to the ground and Gordon bulled his way through the line for 14 yards. Holmes then kept it himself for another 18.
Holmes found Allen for his fourth receiving touchdown and what would be the final score of 63-44.
For the Cardinal, Burns finished 20-of-31 for 387 yards and the four touchdowns. He added 40 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Willige ended with 52 yards rushing. Manning caught four passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns. Galyean had 7 catches for 98 yards and Fortson added a touchdown.
For the Bears, Holmes was 21-of-32 and 380 yards and six touchdowns. He added 76 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Allen had 12 catches for 228 yards and the four receiving touchdowns, and one on the ground. Reese had 95 yards and a score.