Fast start lifts Scots over Sherman

Herald Democrat
Sherman quarterback Tate Bethel threw a pair of touchdown passes during the Bearcats' loss against Highland Park.

UNIVERSITY PARK — Sherman knew that any chance to score a road upset against perennial power Highland Park left little margin for error.

However, a series of first-half miscues sealed the Bearcats’ fate during a 41-21 defeat in District 7-5A (I) action at Highlander Stadium.

After a promising start for Sherman, turnovers on back-to-back drives enabled the unbeaten Scots to break open a seesaw game in the first half.

One play after Highland Park took a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter, Marshall Landwehr scooped up a fumble and returned it 19 yards to the end zone. Sherman’s next drive went 12 plays before the Bearcats lost the ball again at the Scots 24-yard line.

That set up the third of four consecutive touchdown drives before halftime, as Highland Park’s advantage ballooned to 35-7.

“Turnovers were the key to the game,” Sherman head coach J.D. Martinez said. “We’ve got to take care of the ball and execute offensively. It was just unfortunate.”

Earlier, the Bearcats (2-4, 1-1) put together an impressive 75-yard opening drive, capped by a seven-yard touchdown pass from Tate Bethel to Sean Husband.

However, Sherman didn’t score again until the fourth quarter — once on offense and once on defense.

Mathias Coleman returned an interception 41 yards with 10:16 remaining, and Bethel hooked up with Benji Omayebu on a 35-yard touchdown pass in the final minute.

Highland Park was led by Brayden Schager, who threw for 255 yards and added two of the Scots’ five rushing touchdowns. He completed 16 of his first 17 passes, spreading them around to eight different receivers.

“He made good decisions on who to throw to ball to,” Highland Park head coach Randy Allen said. “They were giving us some things underneath, so we took them, and then when he had a chance to go deep, he made a really pretty throw.”

As impressive as Schager’s passing performance was, none of his completions resulted in touchdowns. Still, he connected on 19-of-22 attempts, with Crockett Corwin tallying a game-high 97 receiving yards on six catches.

Meanwhile, Anthony Ghobriel scored on two short touchdown runs, and Brooks Bond added a touchdown plunge late in the second quarter for the Scots (3-0, 1-0).

“Their offensive line is fantastic. Those big guys up front really make it work for them,” Martinez said. “It’s very hard to get stops against them. They’re very talented.”

Both defenses took over after half-time. The Scots stopped two consecutive Sherman drives on fourth-and-short in Highland Park territory, with Landwehr again the catalyst.

The Bearcats showed some resilience when the Scots drove to the Sherman 10 on their opening possession of the third quarter. A sack by Brandon Bonilla on second down and a quarterback pressure by Jacoby Hunt on third kept Highland Park off the board.

“I told them at halftime either you can lay down, or you can bow your neck and draw your foot in the sand and play some football,” Martinez said. “The kids played hard in the second half. They battled and I’m really proud of them.”

Bethel finished 12-of-21 passing for 147 yards with two touchdowns and a fourth-quarter interception. He also ran for 49 yards on 12 attempts, including a handful of scrambles.

Omayebu was the top receiver for Sherman with six catches for 75 yards. On the ground, Andrew Nehrbass contributed a game-high 71 yards on 15 carries.

Sherman has its bye week coming up and will prepare for a Nov. 13 home game against Longview, the other state-ranked team in the district. Before that, the Lobos (5-1, 2-0) will host Highland Park on Friday.

District 7-5A (I)

Highland Park        41

Sherman                21