LONGVIEW - Sulphur Springs’ junior field general Ryan Humphries was nothing short of magnificent Friday night at Pine Tree’s Pirate Stadium. The 5-9, 170-pound Humphries had a night to remember, connecting on 15 of 19 passes for 326 yards and five touchdowns.
For Pine Tree, however, it was a game of what might have been. The Pirates jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, but wound up on the losing end of a 49-21 rout in the District 16-5A opener for both teams.
The Wildcats (1-0, 2-3) scored on seven of their 10 possessions and converted nine of 14 third downs as well as all three of their fourth down opportunities.
Pine Tree’s defense simply couldn’t get the Wildcat offense off the field. Sulphur Springs rolled up 518 yards and accumulated 20 first downs. Humphries could do no wrong and his near-perfection passing came at the expense of the Pirates.
Senior wideout Tyrese Peters was top pass catcher for the Wildcats, finishing with three grabs receptions for 150 yards and three touchdowns, while junior Simeon Taylor hauled in eight passes for 103 yards and fellow junior Calvin Eckert added 67 yards on three catches.
After trading possessions to open play, the Pirates moved 80 yards in six snaps as senior Maliq Owens skipped in from two yards out around left end at 6:57 of the first quarter. Owens, who paced the Pirates with 87 yards on 14 carries, keyed the initial scoring drive with runs of 15 and 11. Prior to that, sophomore southpaw Keshon Williams paired with senior Kenny Jackson on a 29-yard seam pattern.
The Pirates garnered their first lead at home since 28-21 at 8:25 of the third quarter in their season opener with Jacksonville. Junior Dee Green pounced on the subsequent onside kick and Pine Tree was right back in business.
A steady dose of senior Trey Williams gave way to Keshon Williams barreling in from five yards out at 5:13. Michael Irvin was true on the point after to cap the 5-play, 43-yard march and the Pirates assumed their largest lead of the season at 14-0.
The Wildcats wasted no time responding to the two-score deficit as Humphries and Peters paired up on the first of three scores. This one came on a 47-yard hitch at 5:06 of the first. Turnabout proved fair play as senior Tray Dial gobbled up the ensuing onside effort by the Wildcats.
It took Sulphur Springs all of six snaps to navigate the necessary 48 yards and tie the score at 14-14 when Humphries and Peters connected on a 37-yarder on fourth and nine at 1:52.
The Wildcats were far from through as Humphries made a great call on the read option and glided 53 yards untouched down the sideline for the score less than a minute into the second quarter.
Angel Tavera drilled the point after and suddenly Sulphur Springs went from down 14 to up seven in a matter of six minutes. The Wildcats wouldn’t stop scoring until they had rang up 43 unanswered points.
A bubble screen from Humphries to Peters covered 66 yards and converted a third and 13 with 2:35 left before the half. Pine Tree’s best shot at getting back in the game dissolved in a goal line stand by the Sulphur Springs defense the drive previous. This would be parlayed into a back-breaking 8-play, 97-yard drive for the WIldcats.
Owens had darted 30 yards up the middle as the Pirates moved to the Wildcat seven with a first and goal. The drive reached fourth and goal from the three when Owens was stoned by Haven Tennison and the ball went over on downs at 6:08.
Pine Tree got its last score when Owens raced in from 21 yards out at 3:44 of the third quarter to complete a 6-play, 65-yard push that used 2:03 of the play clock.
A 44-yard pitch and catch from Humphries to Eckert allowed the WIldcats to convert yet another third down in the fourth quarter. Cason Goodson got the honors from 11 yards out to bring scoring to a close not even midway of the fourth stanza.
Pine Tree will hit the road Friday to meet Mount Pleasant, while Sulphur Springs returns to its familiar confines hosting Marshall.
(Follow George Whitley on Twitter: @GPigskinprof)