Omayebu leads Cats to district-opening win

By Todd Hutchinson
For the Herald Democrat
Sherman's Benji Omayebu avoids Wylie East defenders during the Bearcats district-opening victory against the Raiders at Bearcat Stadium.

Benji Omayebu had a big night and it came at the right time for the Bearcats

Not only did the senior lead Sherman in receiving, catching six passes for 110 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown, he also scored on a 41-yard run on the way to nearly 200 yards from scrimmage as the Bearcats opened District 7-5A (I) action with a 45-7 victory against Wylie East at Bearcat Stadium.

It could have been an even bigger night for Omayebu — he had a pair of touchdowns called back due to penalties, including a 65-yard punt return, but Sherman (2-3, 1-0) still turned in big plays, had a pair of 100-yard rushers and came minutes away from posting its second shutout in three games and forcing three turnovers..

“Big plays on defense led to 17 points on offense,” Sherman head coach J.D. Martinez said.

Bearcats defensive back Connor Clark put the game out of reach with his toe-tapping interception on the sideline that gave Sherman the ball on the Wylie 45. Six plays later, quarterback Tate Bethel barreled in from the 1-yard line to make the score 24-0 halfway through the third quarter.

After that, the Bearcats put the game away behind backs Andrew Nehrbass and Caleb Thompson. Thompson scored on runs of 13 and 52 yards, the latter with just over a minuet remaining to put an exclamation point on the victory, while Nehrbass tossed in a 62-yard touchdown early in the fourth.

Nehrbass led the rushing attack with 144 yards on 12 carries and Thompson finished with 104 yards on nine carries.

“Everybody had such a good week of practice,” Martinez said. “The word of the week was 'believe' — the more you practice and get confident, the more you believe you can do it.”

Wylie East (1-2, 0-1) was playing for the first time in three weeks after it cancelled a pair of games due to positive COVID-19 tests within the program. The Raiders had won their last outing, scoring 42 points, before being shut down.

The Raiders held the ball for over five minutes to start the game but as the half went long miscues like fumbles and tackles for loss kept them out of the end zone.

After the teams played a scoreless first quarter, Sherman rode a hot passing game to a nine-point lead. Bethel’s short pass to Omayebu turned into a 76-yard touchdown to get Sherman on the board with 6:27 left in the second quarter.

Bethel threw for 187 yards on 13-of-24 passing. He was intercepted once, coming in the first half.

Later in the quarter Dane Casselberry capped a six-play drive that started following a Raiders fumble by kicking a 28-yard field goal to give Sherman a 9-0 lead at the break.

The Bearcats came up with three touchdowns in the third quarter to put the game away.

Omayebu, who had five carries for 76 yards, ripped off his TD run with 7:28 to go in the frame. Less than three minutes later Bethel had his short touchdown run and it was a 24-point lead for the Bearcats, who ran for 343 yards.

Thompson's first touchdown run came in the closing seconds of the third.

Sean Husband came through with 45 receiving yards on four catches to help the effort.

The Raiders gained 220 of their 260 yards on the ground and were led by Christian Johnson, who rushed for 156 yards on 26 carries.

Raiders quarterback Terrell Washington Jr. scored the lone touchdown with 4:14 remaining in the game, capping off nine-play drive with a two-yard plunge.

Sherman travels to Highland Park, which had the district bye on Friday before the Bearcats have their bye week. Wylie East will host Longview, which opened district with a 49-24 win over West Mesquite.

District 7-5A (I)

Sherman         45

Wylie East        7