MESQUITE — Tate Bethel had 225 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and ran for a score as Sherman kept its playoff chances alive for a second straight week with a 56-27 victory over fourth-place West Mesquite in District 7-5A (I) action at Hanby Stadium.

The Bearcats (5-4, 2-3) moved into a three-way tie for fourth place, alongside both West Mesquite (2-7, 2-3) and Texas High and just a game behind John Tyler (3-6, 3-2), which is the team Sherman hosts to close out the season on Friday.

In order for Sherman to make the playoffs for a third straight season, the first step is that the Bearcats have to beat John Tyler — otherwise John Tyler will earn the final spot. Sherman then needs either West Mesquite to beat Texas High or if Texas High tops west Mesquite, Sherman has to beat John Tyler by at least 11 points to come out on the right side of that particular three-way tie-breaker. The West Mesquite-Texas High loser will be eliminated.

“I asked ‘em if they’d ever played poker. they said no,” Sherman head coach J.D. Martinez said. “I said okay forget that but here’s what I want you to do, just bet all in. Put it all in and they did that and we came out and did a great job.”

Mike Brown rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and caught a pass for 59 yards. Bethel connected with seven different receivers with his favorite target being Jacoby Hunt, who had five receptions for 74 yards and one touchdown. Benji Omayebu finished with 97 yards from scrimmage and one rushing touchdown.

“Coach (Derrick) Thompson and his offensive staff came up with a great game-plan,” Martinez said. “Even a couple trick plays that played out well for us. When you can have both trick plays score, you’re doing something right.”

After a first quarter that ended tied at 14, Sherman went on a 35-0 run before West Mesquite’s next score.

The teams traded touchdowns in the opening 12 minutes. Brown kicked it off with a four-yard run before Kevin Jennings found Tajyrian Turner for a 13-yard TD pass.

Bethel put Sherman back in front when he scored from 12 yards out but West Mesquite pulled even on Javion Jackson’s 68-yard TD grab.

That’s when Sherman started to open up a big lead.

A 17-yard touchdown pass from Bethel to Jacoby Hunt with 11 seconds left in the second quarter helped Sherman take a 28-14 lead into half-time.

Omayebu had a 40-yard run that gave the Bearcats the lead for good earlier in the quarter.

Bethel and Hunt connected again on the first drive of the third quarter with a 43-yard TD to extend Sherman’s lead to 35-14.

“I challenged the kids to come out and put the pressure on and squeeze ‘em,” Martinez said. “I promised if we did that good stuff would come out for us.”

Mathias Coleman followed with a two-yard touchdown run and Bethel threw his third TD pass of the night to Elijah Chapman from four yards out and the Bearcats held a 49-14 advantage.

Jennings threw two more touchdown passes in the third, hitting D’Erian Mitchell for 43 yards and Cornelious Piper from 17 yards out to get within three scores and a quarter still to go.

Brown added a 49-yard touchdown run to close out the scoring and the Sherman defense, which forced two fumbles and an interception, shut out the Wranglers in the fourth.

Jennings had 321 passing yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers while the Bearcats limited Texas commit Ty Jordan to 36 yards on eight carries and three catches for 10 yards.

“We’ve improved so much this year,” Martinez said. “The kids are the ones that are buying in, we couldn’t do it without them.”