Rain on your homecoming might not be quite as bad as rain on your wedding day after all.
Especially when it ends with your first home shutout victory since before many of Sherman’s players were even born.
A lightning delay pushed the kickoff back about 20 minutes, then a downpour hastened the presentation of the homecoming court before the game started.
Once the game got underway, however, Sherman’s defenders took to the wet conditions like ducks. Senior quarterback Blaise Bentsen rushed for a pair of 5-yard first-quarter touchdowns, and the Bearcats’ ‘D” did the rest as they blanked Frisco Liberty, 19-0, on Friday night at Bearcat Stadium.
“I’m excited about how the kids got after it,” Bearcats head coach J.D. Martinez said. “They prepared all week and had a great attitude. We can either be the thermostat or the thermometer, and we wanted to be the thermostat and set the temperature.”
The Bearcat defense, as rested as they’ve been all year thanks to the offense’s success, bowed up in the final minutes to deny the visiting Redhawks after a pair of roughing-the-passer penalties and defensive tackle Ivan Calvillo’s resultant ejection. A pair of Mitchell Miller passes at the goal line were broken up by Sherman’s Benji Omayebu and Sherman took over at its own 5-yard line with 1:36 remaining.
“(Defensive coordinator) Mark Wilkinson was really fiery at the end,” Martinez said. “We had a couple of penalties in the end, but our defense played their guts out.”
It was Sherman’s first shutout overall since a 41-0 win at Greenville at the end of the 2011 regular season, and the first blanking within the friendly confines of Bearcat Stadium since a 21-0 victory against Mesquite Poteet on September 18, 2002.
One thing the Bearcats (1-2) finally succeeded in was maintaining offensive possessions. Sherman snapped the ball from scrimmage 39 times in the first half, Liberty 19. The second half was more even as the Bearcats elected to play a field-position game, but a fresher defense more than held its own.
“We were able to move the ball and get first downs,” Martinez said. “Our defense stepped up and was able to get off the field a lot.”
Mike Brown, the workhorse of the offense, led Sherman with 30 carries for 134 yards, and Bentsen added 14 carries for 67 yards and his two scores. Joel Nandin rounded out the scoring with a 23-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Liberty (0-3) struggled to move the ball on the wet grass, fumbling a total of 10 times and losing three of them. Liberty was held to 119 total offensive yards and fell into an early hole when the ball was snapped out of the end zone for a safety with four minutes gone in the first quarter.
The Redhawks got to midfield twice in the first half but never crossed into Sherman territory until early in the third quarter.
“The field was bad and the balls were getting waterlogged,” Martinez said. “It was a ground-and-pound type of night.”
Homecoming queen Libby Ticknor watched — and the king, Cody Hunter, participated on the field — as the Bearcats got off to another Blaise-ing start.
After the opening Sherman possession ended with a Nandin punt that rolled dead at the 6, the Redhawks were held three-and-out and the snap sailed over the Liberty punter’s head and out of the end zone, putting Sherman on top 2-0.
Bentsen kept for a 35-yard pickup to set up his first 5-yard run up the middle for a 9-0 lead with 6:32 left in the opening quarter.
Then two plays into Liberty’s ensuing possession, Sherman’s Calvillo pounced upon a Miller fumble at the Liberty 46 and the Cats were back in business. With Brown doing most of the running, Sherman reached the 5, from where Bentsen faked a handoff to Damian McKee, sprinted around right end and dove over the goal line for a 16-0 lead.
That ended the scoring until Nandin’s field goal with 5:11 left in the game, but the Bearcats had this one in hand throughout.
Khristopher Harris rushed for 58 yards and Miller completed six passes for 65 yards for Liberty.
Next up for Sherman is its first true road trip of the year, to Justin Northwest next Friday at 7 p.m.
“They have some really explosive players,” Martinez said of Northwest. “We’ll really have our hands full.”