The Sherman Bearcats struck first Friday night in their season opener against Sulphur Springs. Then the Wildcats struck back. Five times.
Sulphur Springs overcame an early deficit to double up Sherman with a 42-21 victory at Bearcat Stadium as Ryan Humphries passed for three touchdowns, two to Simeon Taylor, and Colton Allen ran for two scores.
For the Bearcats, it’s a starting point upon which to build over the next three weeks.
“There’s flashes (of good play),” Sherman head coach J.D. Martinez said. “There were a lot of great things. We’ve just got to put it together. We were sloppy here and there, but we can clean it up. I know we can clean it up.
“We’ve just got to really improve on our blocking and tackling. It’s nothing new. It’s not a secret recipe. It’s the same old thing, you’ve got to block and tackle and we didn’t do a very good job of that. They beat us in every facet of the game.”
Sulphur Springs finished with 473 total yards to Sherman’s 361, scoring on four of six possessions over the second and third quarters to build a 35-8 lead after spotting the Bearcats an early touchdown.
Humphries completed his last 12 passes in going 13-of-17 for 219 yards with TDs of 75 and 33 yards to Taylor, who finished with five receptions for 138 yards, and 35 yards to Landry Tyson. Allen, one of 10 ballcarriers the Wildcats used, scored on runs of five and one yards in addition to running for a two-point conversion.
“It was a good night for us,” Wildcats head coach Greg Owens said. “Sherman’s got a good group. Their big running back (Nathaniel Omayebu), he’s a beast. He’s something to deal with. I really like that quarterback (Blaise Bentsen) and their offensive line did a really nice job, too.”
With Sulphur Springs holding Omayebu to 40 yards rushing on 18 carries, Bentsen accounted for 275 yards and two touchdowns rushing and passing. The junior transfer from Texoma Christian rushed 11 times for 102 yards with a 75-yard TD, and was 8-of-21 passing for 173 yards and a score. Ladarren Sewell had six receptions for 149 yards, including a 69-yard TD late in the third quarter.
“The good thing about having a tough game like that is that we just go up from here,” Bentsen said. “We have that kind of base point and now it’s about getting better and better every week.
“We had some bad plays, but at the same time we hit some big plays. We had some guys that broke some big ones and they were a tackle or two away from scoring some more touchdowns.”
Sewell, who had four catches for 20 yards or more, said the Bearcats are close to putting it all together.
“We just need to keep learning as a team,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young people that really don’t know their jobs. Once they get to know their jobs, we’ll get better.”
Three plays after Sulphur Springs missed a field goal on its opening possession, Bentsen popped his big run and added the two-point conversion run to give Sherman an 8-0 lead. The Wildcats responded with Allen’s two touchdowns, then had Taylor’s 75-yard TD late in the half as Sherman saw consecutive possessions end on downs inside the Sulphur Springs 35.
The Wildcats took the game firmly in hand in the third quarter, opening with a crisp six-play drive for Taylor’s second TD reception and adding a five-yard scoring run from Cason Goodson before Sewell got the Bearcats back on the board.
“Defensively, we gave up two big plays, really,” Owens said. “The reality of the night. We gave up a big one to (Bentsen) and then some missed tackles on that dynamic wide receiver (Sewell). That kid right there’s a good player.
“With these two big plays all night, I’m proud of these kids and the way they responded and the way they played.”
Martinez said the Wildcats simply took control of the game away from Sherman after Bentsen’s TD dash.
“I think it’s just being able to control the line of scrimmage,” Martinez said. “They did a great job of it and we were not able to do it. As a result … the proof’s in the pudding there.”
Sherman’s Michael Wallace, who finished with 58 rushing yards on eight carries, capped the scoring with an eight-yard TD run with 41 seconds remaining.
Sherman strong safety Austin Bindel said the Bearcat defense learned a lot in the opener.
“This was our first game, of course, and we’ve got a lot to work on,” Bindel said. “It’s going to be a short week because we’ve got a game on Thursday (at Frisco Liberty). We’ve just got to work on what we didn’t execute on.”
Having a short week heading into the second game should help the Bearcats put Friday’s disappointment behind them, Martinez said.
“We preach all the time about having a short-term memory, 24 hours and moving on,” he said. “It’s good for our kids because we need to focus on something else. We’re not going to get too down on things.
“I’m marking this down as a learning experience. It showed where we’ve got to improve, plain and simple.”