Cats top Wranglers, win third straight
MESQUITE — The Sherman Bearcats continued their late-season push and will carry a three-game winning streak into the playoffs after a 50-36 victory against West Mesquite to end District 7-5A (I) play at Memorial Stadium.
The Bearcats built up a huge lead after three quarters before the Wranglers made the final margin look a lot closer than the game went, scoring three times in the fourth quarter.
Sherman (5-4, 4-1) finished tied with Longview for second place after those two did not play because their game was cancelled and ruled a no-contest. Due to district tie-breakers for that scenario, Longview got the second seed for the playoffs while the Bearcats will be the No. 3 seed.
Sherman will open the playoffs at College Station with a bi-district match-up at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Andrew Nehrbass had nine carries for 71 yards and three touchdowns and four catches for 49 yards and a TD, Benji Omayebu had 14 carries for 99 yards and caught six passes for 97 yards and a score, Tate Bethel was 23-of-34 passing for 272 yards and three touchdowns and also ran seven times for 58 yards and Jacoby Hunt had four catches for 51 yards and a TD for the Bearcats, who return to the postseason for the third time in four years after missing last season on a tie-breaker.
Jay Cipriano was 10-of-15 passing for 121 yards and two touchdowns while Tre Cunningham had four carries for 77 yards and a score and caught a TD pass for the Wranglers (1-9, 1-5), who had already been eliminated from playoff contention entering the game. They suffered their worst season since consecutive 1-9 seasons in 1986-87.
West Mesquite struck first with Cipriano hitting Cunningham from the nine-yard line to open up the scoring with 8:16 to go in the first quarter.
Sherman answered quickly with Nehrbass rushing six yards into the end zone, and Bethel connected with Sean Husband, who had five catches for 46 yards, on the two-point conversion to put the Bearcats in front at the 6:44 mark of the first.
Sherman forced a punt to get the ball back and added a touchdown with a thirty-nine yard touchdown pass to the end zone from Bethel to Omayebu with just over a minute to go in the first.
The Bearcats added to their advantage when Nehrbass scored on a 13-yard run in the early stages of the second quarter. Then Sherman successfully executed an onside kick and Bethel capped off that possession with a four-yard touchdown run to make it 29-7 in the middle of the frame.
The Wranglers got a 30-yard touchdown pass from Craig Dale to Devin Duncan on the ensuing possession but Sherman closed out the first half with a drive that ate up nearly the final four minutes, going 17 plays and then Bethel hit Hunt on a one-yard throw with 30 seconds until the break for a 36-14 advantage.
By the end of the third quarter Sherman's lead had ballooned to 50-14 on the strength of a pair of Nehrbass touchdowns.
The Bearcats opened the second half with a 13-play drive and Bethel connected with Nehrbass for a 23-yard touchdown pass on fourth down. at the 7:19 mark of the frame.
Sherman came up with an interception and the Bearcats put together another long drive, much like the one to end the first half, melting off almost five minutes before Nehrbass scored on a four-yard run with 39 seconds to go in the third.
The 36-point margin was down to 14 at the end of the game when West Mesquite scored with just seconds left on a Cipriano 20-yard pass to Jhi'Ron Randall.
The Wranglers also got touchdown runs in the fourth quarter from Gabriel Corona (11 yards) and Cunningham (57 yards).
District 7-5A (I)
West Mesquite 36