Jackets defeat Wildcats

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There is nothing like East Texas football competition. The first quarter of Mineola’s 26-14 victory over the Big Sandy Wildcats last Thursday demonstrated this in spades. In the Yellowjackets’ toughest challenge yet, Mineola and Big Sandy battled it out in the trenches, with epic one-on-one lineman clashes. The quarter produced three punts for each side, as neither team would give an inch.

The impasse was breached when Mineola produced one of their prototypical scoring drives early in the second quarter. After a four yard loss and a procedure penalty, Mineola went to their bread and butter to get untracked. From their own 29 yard line, Quarterback Shaw Franklin went for 16 yards around right end. Running Back Trevion Sneed then rambled for 20 yards off tackle, and followed that with a 12 yard effort also off tackle. Franklin then took it around left end for 9 yards, before racing to the end zone on a 24 yard scamper.

It was typical 2018 Jackets’ football: Franklin around the edge and Sneed exploding through the B gap. The Yellowjackets had to jumpstart their offense and they resorted to the Franklin – Sneed combination to get it done.

The Wildcats did not roll over. They took the kickoff and scored after a 9 play 57 yard drive. Big Sandy converted two third downs on the drive and mixed the play calling nicely. The score came on the completion of a short out route. The Wildcat receiver then cut back across the field and split the Yellowjackets’ secondary for the score. An inventive two point conversion on a jump pass from a running back gave Big Sandy an 8-7 lead with 3:42 left in the half.

There was more Mineola medicine on the ensuing drive. Sneed off right tackle for 18 yards, Sneed off left tackle for 6 yards, Sneed off left tackle for 4 yards, Franklin around right end for 23, Franklin on a keeper for 5 yards, and Sneed off left tackle for 6 yards and a score. The extra point made it 14 – 8, and the Yellowjackets had the lead for the evening.

Big Sandy almost scored in the remaining 55 seconds of the half, when speedy Senior Wildcat Keenen Crawford took a jet sweep 37 yards down to the Jackets’ 14 yard line. Trouble with the snaps, a Big Sandy issue throughout the night, and a missed opportunity on a slant pattern, ended the scoring threat. Big Sandy turned the ball over on downs.

The competitive first half did not become the overwhelming Yellowjacket dominance demonstrated against Wills Point or Farmersville. After exchanging punts, Mineola opened the second half scoring when a Wildcat punt snap misfired deep in Wildcat territory and resulted in a safety.

Mineola Junior Dalton Rodgers recorded his second big kick return in so many weeks when he took the ensuing kick and returned it to the Big Sandy 23 yard line. Three plays later Franklin hit Junior Wylie Franks with an 18 yard scoring strike. The extra point made the score 23-8 late in the third period.

Big Sandy answered with two big plays in their next possession. A 30 yard catch and run by Wildcat Captain Josiah Johnson, and a 29 yard scoring run by fellow Captain Khameron Pippins closed the contest to 23 -14 in the final minute of the third quarter.

Mineola ground out an 8 play 46 yard drive resulting in a Gustavo Sanchez field goal to end the night’s scoring. Despite having a first and goal at the Wildcats 8 yard line, a fumble and two stops of no gain kept Mineola out of the end zone.

It was on this drive that the seminal moment of the game occurred. Desperately needing to put this game away, Mineola was facing a second and 18 from the Wildcats’ 35 yard line. Sneed took the ball off left tackle, shedded the two initial tacklers, and carried several more defenders downfield refusing to be tackled. It was a demonstration of sheer power and will. Although he did not find the end zone on this drive, Sneed’s effort represented the will to win, which Mineola sought the whole night. The home crowd enjoyed the 68 yard effort which Sneed produced in the game’s final series, but it was that 17 yard grinding run which defined the evening.

Big Sandy attempted a late rally but fell short when the drive self-destructed at mid-field. Mineola took the punt, and after Sneed’s long run, ran out the clock.

The match-up against Big Sandy provided Mineola a challenge of several speedy skill players and sizeable defensive players with which to contend. They met the challenge, and will learn a great deal from this win. Of note, the mental focus had significantly improved in a week’s time. The Yellowjackets were flagged six times with no personal fouls. Often overlooked, Gustavo Sanchez is now 11 of 13 on extra point attempts and added a successful first field goal attempt of the year.

The hard-nosed nature of this game was just what the Yellowjackets needed before opening district play at West Rusk next week. They will need that experience when they kick-off against the Raiders.

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