LIBERTY CITY -- For three of the first four games, the Sabine Cardinals found that winning magic. But Friday night at home, hosting Tatum, the rabbit just would not come out of the hat.
Following a bye week, the Cardinals played host to the Tatum Eagles to open District 8-3A, Division I play here at James Bamberg Stadium. The Eagles soared over the Cardinals, though, winning a 56-38 shootout.
Next week the Cardinals (3-2 on the season, 0-1 in district play) travel to Winnsboro.
Sabine punted on its first possession, and Tatum had great field position. The Eagles scored on the very first play from scrimmage for them, and went up 7-0 after the 21-yard score by quarterback O.B. Jones.
Sabine’s second possession again ended in a punt, and then the Cardinals’ defense stiffened, forcing Tatum to turn the ball over on downs.
Sabine quarterback Landon McKinney found a wide-open B.J. Stidham for a 21-yard gain, but that drive eventually stalled, as well. Fernando Jaimes hit a 32-yard field goal, though, to get Sabine on the board, trailing Tatum 7-3.
Coach Rex Sharp surprised Tatum with an onside kick, and Sabine recovered it. They kept the ball on the ground and got into the red zone (inside the Tatum 20-yard-line). But when McKinney went to the air, he threw a rare interception. After completing a 25-yard pass, Jones scored again, and gave his Eagles a 14-3 advantage.
Things got worse for the Cardinals. On Tatum’s next possession, Jones found Decartiyay Allison for a 32-yard gain, and then Jachais Jenkins ran the final 13 yards for a third Tatum score.
Clayton Simmons returned the ensuing kickoff 63 yards for Sabine, and this set up a 31-yard touchdown run by Stidham. That made it 21-10, Tatum.
Still in the first half, though, Tatum’s offense answered. Jones, who was just on fire, found Jayden Boyd for a 60-yard play, down to Sabine’s 3. Jenkins went the final distance for a 28-10 Tatum lead.
Sabine’s offense was stymied one more time, which hasn’t been the case all season, but Tatum forced the punt, and their return man, KaVontae Starling, brought it back the other way for 64 yards. Jenkins scored again, his third of the night, on a 6-yard run to give Tatum a 35-10 advantage.
They would get one more, unfortunately for Sabine and its fans, before the halftime break. On the next Tatum drive, with less than a minute left, Jones found Boyd again for another score and a backbreaking 42-10 halftime lead.
Bre’den Ford helped the Sabine defense on Tatum’s first drive of the second half, stepping in front of a pass at the goal line and stopping the Eagles’ drive.
Deep in the third quarter, Tatum finally broke into the end zone again, a 36-yard play by Allison. Stidham got one of his own on a 31-yard run, and then Sabine tried another onside kick. This one didn’t work.
Still, Sabine would get more points. On their next drive, McKinney would score on a 34-yard run, and then again on a 30-yarder. That got the Cardinals within shouting distance, 49-30.
Tatum’s Jones-Boyd connection hooked up again, though, and that one would do it, giving THS the 56-30 lead.
McKinney added a late touchdown on a 4-yard run, but it was just too much Tatum in this one.
On the night, McKinney had 121 passing yards and 148 rushing, with the three late touchdowns. Stidham had 95 yards and a touchdown on the ground, and 58 yards receiving.