COMMERCE — Once the bad things started to snowball in the second quarter, the Denison Yellow Jackets found themselves in a hole that proved too deep to overcome.

COMMERCE — Once the bad things started to snowball in the second quarter, the Denison Yellow Jackets found themselves in a hole that proved too deep to overcome.


Mistakes in all three phases of the game proved costly and Sulphur Springs took advantage by scoring five straight touchdowns in a 12-minute span en route to a 66-42 victory over Denison in a Class 4A Division II Region II bi-district game at Texas A&M-Commerce on Friday night.


Sulphur Springs (8-3) will play Whitehouse in the area round later this week. It is the second time in the last three playoff appearances the Wildcats have eliminated Denison (6-5), which allowed the most points in a playoff game in school history and the most by the Yellow Jackets since 1925.


The end of the season shouldn’t completely overshadow the one-year turnaround for the program, which tripled its win total and finished in a four-way tie for the 13-4A title with a playoff appearance for the first time in four years.


"The game didn’t go the way we wanted to but we have a lot of good things to build on for next year," Denison head coach Chad Rogers said. "It’s a great group of kids who won a piece of the district championship and got to the playoffs."


Through the first 10 minutes it looked like a close, high-scoring game was going to ensue. Both teams picked up a pair of touchdowns with the Wildcats holding a 16-14 advantage.


Denison started with four-yard touchdown catch by Colton Henslee from Devon Blanton on the game’s opening drive before Willie Ivery scored on a 42-yard run for Sulphur Springs. The Wildcats recovered a squib quick and Larry Pryor scored on a 15-yard run to extend the lead.


The Jackets came right back with a six-yard touchdown run by Khalil Brown and the track meet looked to be on when Pryor connected with Isaiah Lacy for an 18-yard TD strike with just seven seconds left in the first quarter. That’s when things imploded for Denison.


When the Jackets got to the Wildcat 31 on the ensuing possession, the drive stalled and Denison turned the ball over on downs. A minute later Lacy scored again, this time on a 26-yard pass from Pryor.


The teams traded possessions, including Denison getting a turnover on downs at its 35. But the first play from scrimmage was a fumbled exchange on a reverse that the Wildcats recovered and Ivery caught a 27-yard TD pass on the first play for a 37-14 advantage.


Denison was about to answer at the Sulphur Springs 14 when Blanton’s first-down pass was tipped, intercepted and returned a little more than 90 yards to the one-yard line by Melroy Givens with Blanton saving the inevitable touchdown. Pryor punched it in on the next play, the Wildcats pooched the kickoff and recovered at the Denison 28. Pryor scored on a first-play scramble with nine seconds left in the half and the lead was at 50-14.


Pryor finished with 102 yards on 15 carries and completed 8-of-11 passes for 186 yards, having a hand in eight of the nine touchdowns, while Ivery added 129 yards on 12 carries with both sitting out the fourth quarter.


"When things started not going our way, I didn’t do a good job of getting things where they needed to be," Rogers said. "We expected onside kicks. We expected the two-point conversions. I guess I didn’t do a real good job of getting them ready."


Jaleel Dade gave Denison a little momentum going into the locker room when he returned the ensuing kickoff 72 yards for a score down the right sideline as the half expired. The Wildcats tried the same kick they had just recovered and Dade broke pash the first wave, outrunning the kicker and cutting back against another defender for the touchdown.


Despite three turnovers and a pair of failed fourth-down conversions, Denison still managed to produce 482 yards of offense. Blanton totaled 139 yards on 20 carries and threw for 155 while Brown added 108 yards on 16 carries.


The Jackets attempted an onside kick to start the third quarter to get back in the contest but couldn’t recover. Pryor’s first play was a 33-yard touchdown and Eddie Moreno answered with a three-yard TD run.


A 66-yard kickoff return by Ivery to the Denison nine looked to set up a sure touchdown but Sulphur Springs had to settle for a 26-yard Ryan Watson field goal.


When Brown had a five-yard TD run with 5:27 left in the third quarter and Moreno added the conversion, the Jackets were within three scores and thinking comeback.


"Two stops and an onside kick," Rogers said. "We never quit."


Unfortunately for Denison it couldn’t get a stop on third-and-12 on the next Wildcat drive as Pryor broke free of the pocket and found Alex Burney deep for a 49-yard touchdown pass.


It was the final scoring of the night for Sulphur Springs and Denison was unable to get anything else besides a Drew Marr 34-yard touchdown catch with just over a minute remaining. The Jackets turned the ball over on downs at the Wildcat 20 early in the fourth quarter and another tipped interception at the Sulphur Springs 12 with three minutes left kept Denison from getting any closer.