The Sherman Bearcats had to hold on at the end Friday, but kept their grip well enough for a 35-33 homecoming victory over the Mount Pleasant Tigers.
A week after passing their way to a victory over Frisco Liberty, the Bearcats (2-1) relied on their running game and the defense made two goal-line stands that wound up being the difference. Nathaniel Omayebu rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns as Sherman finished with 303 yards on the ground, while Blaise Bentsen passed for 111 yards and two scores.
“I’m proud of the way the kids battled,” Sherman coach J.D. Martinez said. “They had some adversity hit them late and they were able to overcome that adversity.
“Homecoming games are tough. The focus is not there. Everyone wants to know who the homecoming king is and all that other stuff.”
Leading 35-26 in the fourth quarter, Sherman put together a 10-play drive that consumed 5 minutes, 13 seconds before the Bearcats turned the ball over on downs at the Mount Pleasant 32 with 3:14 left in the game. Things got interesting in the final two minutes as Tigers quarterback Josh Morrison corralled a wild snap and found Dorian Glinton over the middle. Glinton, who had five catches for 73 yards, slipped a tackle and broke away for a 51-yard touchdown with 1:36 remaining.
“We worked the clock,” Martinez said. “Thank goodness we were able to do that on that one drive. That really helped us. Blaise did a really good job of working the clock all the way down.
“A W’s a W. We’ll take it. It’s Texas high school football. It’s tough.”
Sherman was flagged for toughing the passer on the touchdown and an offside call on the ensuing kickoff allowed Mount Pleasant to attempt an onside kick from the Bearcat 40. Sherman defensive end Ethan Bedgood fielded the kick, enabling the Bearcats to run out the clock.
Omayebu, who carried 27 times after having 26 rushing attempts in Sherman’s first two games, scored on runs of 7 and 22 yards as the Bearcats finished with 414 total yards. Michael Wallace added 91 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
“It just feels good to be back,” Omayebu said. “I know it was a little slow the first couple of games. I started to bounce back a little bit last week, scoring two touchdowns. I’m just glad to be back and contribute to the team in the best way I can. I’m glad we got the job done tonight.”
Martinez said the Bearcats wanted to establish the run against the Tigers and finished with 52 rushing plays after attempting just 17 last week.
“We were able to do that,” he said. “I was happy with the execution on that part. I would have liked 450 (yards) and about six touchdowns rushing. That would have been fantastic. But we’ll take it.”
Meanwhile, Bentsen was 9 of 17 passing with TDs of 18 yards to Jeremy Norvell and 37 yards to Tylor Jones, both in the first half. Bentsen also added to the rushing totals with 47 yards on nine carries.
“We’re not going to base ourselves on being a run or a pass team,” Bentsen said. “We’re going to take what the defense gives us and make the best out of that. If that means running for 300, we’ll do that. If it means throwing it around, we’ll do that, too.
“We loosened them up with the pass early and then just did a great job on the run. We trusted our guys going in to be able to dominate up front and really push them around in the front seven. That’s what they did, so we just stayed with it.”
Omayebu said the game was won in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
“The O-line blocked well tonight,” he said. “I’ve got to give a shot out to the defense. They helped us out a lot, too. The fourth-downs at the goal line, we needed those. That was a big part of the game. I’m just glad we had a good team win and we’re ready for next week.”
Mount Pleasant repeatedly gashed the Bearcats for big plays, hitting eight for 20 or more yards with two of more than 50. The Tigers gained 386 total yards, 253 of it on the ground as freshman Tylan Hines rushed for 194 on 15 carries, but Sherman came up with the needed stops at the right times.
Early in the second quarter with Sherman up 15-13, Mount Pleasant had fourth down inside the Bearcat 1-yard line, but an errant shotgun snap was recovered by Sherman defensive back Gage Smith. The Tigers opened the fourth quarter with third-and-goal at the 2, but Tyke Fluellen was stopped short of the goal line two plays in a row as the Bearcats protected a nine-point lead.
“It was just full effort every play, just going hard every time,” said Bedgood, who had three tackles for loss with a sack. “Firing off and never giving up. It was just playing 100 percent on all plays.”
“The D-line got a great push and the linebackers came and filled in. It was just good on all parts of the defense. We hung in there and played well.”
Defensive tackle T.K. Walton, who had a fumble recovery that led to a Sherman score, said the goal-line stands meant “the world” to him.
“The key defensively was just swarming to the ball,” he said. “We had a good week of practice. We rallied to the ball.”
Mount Pleasant drove the opening kickoff to Morris’ 4-yard TD run, but Sherman needed just six plays to answer as Bentsen connected with Norvell for the Bearcats’ first TD of the night. Omayebu followed with his first TD and Bentsen ran for a two-point conversion on a swinging gate. Morris, who was 11 of 18 passing for 133 yards, responded with a 26-yard TD pass to Anterrious Beard, but Sherman’s Cody Hunter blocked the extra point to leave the Bearcats up 15-13 at the end of the first quarter.
Mount Pleasant bounced back from its first goal-line failure in the second quarter when Kelvin Heath grabbed a short punt off a bounce and raced 53 yards to give the Tigers a 19-15 lead, but Bentsen hit Jones, who had two receptions for 59 yards, for a score with 1:35 left in the half. Hines opened the second half with a 4-yard TD run, then Wallace capped a 12-play drive with his 13-yard TD run with 3:00 left in the third quarter and Walton’s takeaway led to Omayebu’s second score less than two minutes later to give Sherman a 35-26 lead.