Bearcats return with a victory over North

By Brandon Bolin
For the Herald Democrat
Sherman quarterback Tate Bethel looks for running room in the Bearcats' victory over McKinney North in District 7-5A (I) action.

McKINNEY — As if the Bearcats needed anything else to overcome lately, a power outage seemed at the low end of the scale.

Sherman returned to action for the first time this month after spending last week on pause because a spike in COVID-19 cases that forced them to cancel a game. And even though McKinney North was next on the schedule, there was always the possibility the wouldn’t end up playing.

But the Bearcats were able to take the field and despite being down more than a dozen players, Sherman produced 593 yards of offense and held on for a 44-35 victory over the Bulldogs in District 7-5A (I) action.

“I’m ecstatic for the way the kids rallied for each other and played for each other,” Sherman head coach J.D. Martinez said. “Having so many kids out, five or six starters, starting five sophomores on defense, they played their guts out.

“I’m so proud of the coaching staff. They did a great job with everything going on.”

Tate Bethel completed 19-of-26 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns and ran seven times for 56 yards and a score, Benji Omayebu added 168 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries and 81 yards on five catches, Jacoby Hunt finished with six receptions for 116 yards and a TD, Andrew Nehrbass added 147 yards from scrimmage and a score and Dane Casselberry kicked three field goals for Sherman, which can clinch a playoff spot with a win at home against Tyler and a West Mesquite loss to Highland Park.

Elijah Alexander had 169 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries, Gavin Constantine threw for 143 yards and a touchdown while adding 84 yards on the ground and Dylan Frazier chipped in two rushing TDs for McKinney North, which would have clinched a playoff spot with a win. The Bulldogs can do that with a victory in their finale at Longview on Friday or a Sherman win over Tyler.

Because of a power outage at McKinney ISD Stadium with 2:25 remaining and the Bearcats (3-4, 2-1) up 37-35 after North (3-5, 3-2) had just scored, the teams moved to Ron Poe Stadium just up Highway 75 and completed the game after an hour delay.

“It’s been one of the more gratifying wins we’ve had because of all the challenges the last two weeks,” Martinez said. “Just really proud of the kids and the way they got after it. I can’t thank our fans enough for staying and supporting us. I really appreciated it. I know our kids did too.”

When the game resumed, Bethel found Omayebu on third-and-10 for 23 yards and then ran it in himself on the next play for a 39-yard touchdown.

Jesse Matteson recovered a fumble forced by Phoenix Grant on North’s ensuing drive to seal the victory.

The Bulldogs had pulled within two points on an 11-yard TD pass from Constantine to Luke Paley but Connor Clark batted away the two-point conversion pass to keep the Bearcats ahead instead of tied.

The ensuing onside kick went out of bounds and that's when the lights went out.

Up until that point, it was a relatively normal high-scoring contest. Sherman took over with a little more than five minutes on the clock and drove deep into McKinney North territory but stalled at the 12-yard line and Casselberry kicked a 29-yard field goal for an eight-point advantage.

The Bulldogs used a Frazier 12-yard touchdown run late in the third to make the deficit 34-23 after a missed extra point but then recovered an onside kick. Seven plays later Alexander ran it in from the five-yard line, but the two-point conversion failed to make it 34-29 just as the fourth quarter was underway.

Braiden Speed came up with an interception at the Sherman eight-yard line to keep McKinney North off the board on the Bulldogs’ opening drive of the second half. Penalties looked to sabotage Sherman on the following possession but Bethel found Omayebu for 37 yards on third-and-35 to keep the drive alive. After five-and-a-half minutes, Bethel found Hunt for a 27-yard touchdown reception and a 34-17 lead.

In the second quarter, McKinney North got within 24-17 on a three-yard run by Alexander but Sherman used a 36-yard field goal from Casselberry for a double-digit half-time margin.

Earlier in the period, McKinney North took advantage of a fumble recovery at the Sherman 30-yard line to set up a drive capped on a 13-yard TD run by Frazier.

Sherman had a quick answer. Two plays later Omayebu found a gap to take it 66 yards to create some breathing room with a 24-10 lead.

“It definitely helps to have No. 10,” Martinez said. “He’s just different.”

After Casselberry opened the scoring on a 43-yard field goal and Tyler Huettel matched with a field goal from 35 yards, the Bearcats produced a pair of big plays before the end of the first quarter. Omayebu had a 52-yard touchdown run and on Sherman’s next possession, Nehrbass went 71 yards on a screen pass to make the score 17-3.

District 7-5A (I)

Sherman                           44

McKinney North                35