Wildcats Football Opens Season With Solid 21-6 Win Over Jacksonville

Friday, Aug. 26 saw Sulphur Springs pick up a dominant 21-6 win over Jacksonville at home to begin their season.

The Wildcats played with confidence in their season-opening win.

The defense got off the field early several times, forced a crucial three-and-out to set up a potential last-minute scoring drive to end the first half, and the offense stayed consistent enough to not only score points, but in turn also giving their defense plenty of time to rest.

In the first game under new head coach Brandon Faircloth and his staff, the Wildcats picked up two touchdowns early in the game. QB Brady Driver used his legs to get the offense going, rushing 33 yards on the first drive.

The junior had himself a solid night, going 12/20 through the air and combining for over 200 yards in the win. Driver missed part of the game due to an apparent injury, but was well enough to return late in the game, passing a beautiful touchdown to put the game away.

Sulphur Springs Wildcats logo

Both opening drives for the Wildcat offense were capped off with a Malachi Roland rushing touchdown. The junior RB rushed for 108 yards in the victory.

Even though both PAT’s on the two opening drives for Sulphur Springs were blocked by the Indians, the Wildcats still led 12-0.

The start for the offense is a far cry from last year’s unit, who struggled to stay consistent and string pays together for scoring drives.

Jacksonville had a shot at getting back in to their season opener, scoring on a beautiful 43-yard pass from QB Ryan McCown to trail 12-6, but the ensuing PAT was blocked and returned for two to propel momentum right back to the Wildcats, leading 14-6.

Another touchdown, courtesy of freshman WR Jaxon Haire on a great pass from Driver, iced the game away as Sulphur Springs won their season opener 21-6.

While the offense scored three touchdowns on the night, consistently making big plays and stringing them together to keep their defense off the field, the real MVP of the season-opening win for the Wildcats was the defense.

Wildcat Football

Sulphur Springs forced several punts, also picking off Jackonsville QB McCown twice; once each in the first half (Riley Hammons) and second (Brayden Morris).

Special teams errors were also a big factor in the win Friday. Sulphur Springs missed two PAT’s, both blocked, but Jacksonville also almost lost a fumble on a punt return, had one of their PAT’s blocked and returned for two, and missed a field goal. While the Wildcats left two points on the field, Jacksonville left four to five points on the field due to special team gaffes.

The win is the first for Wildcats football in almost two years, dating back to the end of the 2020 season. Sulphur Springs went 0-10 last season before Head Football Coach/Athletic Director Coach Faircloth was brought in as Greg Owen’s replacement.

And in the new coach’s first game, in a new era of Wildcat football, it all culminated with a Sulphur Springs win, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 record to begin their season.

It’s also the first time Sulphur Springs has started the season 1-0 since 2018, winning their season opener over Frisco Wakeland.

Next up, Coach Faircloth and Wildcats football prep for a rivalry game with Mount Pleasant.

The Tigers come to town on Friday, Sept. 2 to Gerald Prim Stadium at 7:30 P.M.

Friday’s match-up with the Tigers is the first time the two schools have played each other since the 2017 season, when Sulphur Springs won 31-14 at Mount Pleasant when the schools were district rivals.

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Author: Ross LaBenske

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