JEFFERSON – It was homecoming in Jefferson Friday night – but the Sabine High School Cardinals weren’t a cordial guest.
The Cardinals traveled took on the Bulldogs for their third district game, looking to remain perfect in District 6-3A, Division I.
And they did it.
The Bulldogs were sent to the doghouse as Sabine came away with a very impressive 31-7 win and a 3-0 district record to boot. And now on Friday, the Cardinals will host the White Oak Roughnecks.
Sabine's win over Jefferson was its fourth straight.
After Jefferson’s defense forced Sabine to punt on its first possession, Sabine returned the favor and only allowed the ‘Dogs a single first down on theirs, notable because of Jefferson’s very good running back, Kamran Williams. Coach Rex Sharp’s Sabine defense did a masterful job holding Williams, a Built Ford Tough Player of the Week, in check, allowing him just 34 yards on 20 carries.
At any rate, a false start penalty forced Jefferson to punt back to the Cardinals.
Later, with about two minutes left in the first quarter, Sabine quarterback Jace Burns, Brannigan Willige and the SHS offensive line got something going. Burns had runs of 17 and 10 yards and Willige added 11 to set up a touchdown by Burns. Dylan Stafford’s extra point gave the Cardinals a 7 -0 lead after a quarter.
Sabine’s defensive line stuffed the Bulldogs and forced a punt to begin the second quarter. Luke Kirkindoll started the drive with an 8-yard run. Burns then found Alex Galyean on a pass for 13 yards. Burns added a 24-yard sprint, but that was all the Bulldog defense allowed. On fourth down, the Cardinals trotted on Stafford to attempt a 42-yard field goal. With plenty of distance, the Cardinals increased their lead to 10-0.
After foircing another punt, the Cardinals were on the move again. The Burns and Willige show began with both players running through the defensive line. Facing a third and 11 on the Jefferson 15-yard-line, Burns again found Galyean, this time for a 14-yard gain and a first and goal on the 1.
The ‘Dogs’ defense denied the Cardinals to enter the doghouse and forced them back to attempt a 30-yard field goal. This time the kick was wide left and with less than two minutes in the half, the Bulldogs took over, still trailing 10-0.
Not for long.
On the first play of the drive, Jefferson quarterback Erik Burns dropped back and found Luke McMullen for a completion up the middle. He was able to slip through defenders, and the Bulldogs went 80 yards to the house to cut the lead to 10-7 at the half.
Deep in their own territory, Sabine’s Burns put the team on his shoulders. He ran three plays and the third one, he found daylight for 84 yards and the score.
With a 10-point lead (17-7), the Cardinal defense stiffened. On Jefferson’s third play of the next drive, the Dogs went to the air. This time the pass was completed to the Cardinals – Caden Richardson, namely, on the interception.
That possession didn’t yield points or yards, and resulted in another punt. Sabine’s defense again forced Jefferson to punt and Cayden Fortson returned it 25 yards into Bulldog territory. On the legs of Willige and Burns, Sabine moved downfield as the game journeyed into the fourth quarter.
Continuing the drive, the Cardinals called Willige’s number for the final 6 yards and the score, giving them a 24-7 lead.
The defense didn’t let the Bulldog offense move the rest of the game. Forcing another punt, the Cardinals could run the clock. Burns went to the air and found Fortson for a 42-yard catch and run. Burns then ran in the final 11 for the final score of the game, 31-7.
For the Cardinals Burns ended the night with 222 yards on the ground and the three touchdowns. He had 84 passing yards. Willige finished with 73 yards on the ground and a score. Fortson led the team in receiving with 42 yards and Galyean added 38.
The defense was the difference, though, in this one, as they held the Bulldogs’ offense to under 100 yards rushing and only gave up only 116 yds through the air, 80 the one Jefferson scoring play.