ANNA — For most of two quarters on Friday, Anna’s game plan for hanging with the talented Paris Wildcats worked to perfection: Play fierce defense, win the field position battle, control the ball a bit and burn clock. Throw in the added bonus of seeing two nice Paris runs wiped out by penalty and the Coyotes were in good shape in a scoreless tie just before halftime.
But as the second quarter of this District 7-4A (I) match-up wound down, the Wildcats’ speed showed itself and their defense took over as well, forcing five straight three-and-outs as Paris pulled away for a 27-0 win after leading by six at half-time.
“They’re a great team,” Anna head coach Jason Heath said. “They’ve shown a lot of people how good they are. I was extremely proud of our effort, getting lined up, being able to stop them, make them punt the ball and give our offense an opportunity. … We didn’t have a whole of success offensively but 6-0 at half-time is kind of where we wanted to be. They have enormous team speed. We get a guy out of place or something and they can make you pay for it — and they did a couple of times.”
The Wildcats (4-1, 2-0) rolled to 309 yards rushing led by Dorian Williams’ 151 yards on 19 carries. Anna’s Warren Mason rushed for a team-high 48 yards on 19 carries as the Coyotes were held to 132 total yards.
Anna (4-2, 1-1) forced three-and-outs on the Wildcats’ first three possessions and another punt after a short drive on their fourth. During that time, the Coyotes started at their own 44-yard-line, their own 49 and the Paris 46 but never got closer than the Wildcats’ 33.
Finally, with under three minutes left in the half, Williams got loose around the right side for 36 yards to the Anna 20 and a personal foul on the tackle moved the ball half the distance to the goal line. Williams ran it in on the next play for a 6-0 lead.
The Wildcats stuffed Anna’s first possession of the second half and started from the Coyotes’ 41. Paris then overcame a 15-yard penalty and converted a fourth-and-four on Zy’kius Jackson’s nine-yard run to the Anna 26. After Jadarius Dillard’s jaunt to the one, James Neal punched it in for a 13-0 advantage.
On their next possession, Williams bounced out to the left for 49 yards to the Anna 37 and five plays later Kobe Savage found Bubba Gray for a 26-yard TD pass and the lead was 20-0 with 1:29 left in the third.
The Coyotes then put together their best drive of the night — 16 plays, 58 yards to the Paris 17 — but the march stalled on fourth-and-14 from there. On that drive, Mason and Abner Dubar combined for nearly five yards per carry on nine attempts and Junior Rodriguez hit three of his six completions for the night — two to Noah Palshaw and one to Emmonte Davis.
Taking over with 4:45 left to play, the Wildcats moved 83 yards back downfield for their final touchdown, a push highlighted by KD Washington’s 58-yard sideline-to-sideline scamper and capped by his 10-yard run to paydirt.
“You take a lot away from a game like this and we’ll use it to make ourselves better,” Heath said. “That’s what we’ve got to do from here on out. They don’t get easier.”
The Coyotes face Highway 5 rival Melissa (3-2, 0-1) on Friday in the first meeting between the two schools in five years. Paris hosts Celina (4-1, 2-0).