McKINNEY — The Sherman Bearcats finally found a cure for their struggling offense: A big, near-record dose of senior Tre’ Mask in the backfield.
Mask carried 27 times for 253 yards and seven touchdowns and also caught six passes for 83 yards on Thursday night, leading the Bearcats to a 55-44 win over McKinney North at Ron Poe Stadium in the first District 13-4A game of the year.
Mask was exhausted afterward, but very pleased with his team’s performance.
“It’s paid off tremendously,” Mask said. “We focused on the little things, and tonight, we did what we know we can do.”
Mask’s scoring performance ranks No. 2 all-time among Sherman single-game rushers, behind the school mark of eight set by Otis Franklin against Fort Worth Masonic Home in 1927. Mask’s yardage also ranks fourth in school history in a single game.
Sherman head coach Gary Kinne was happy to see Mask complete a whole game after missing most of the second half of their last game two weeks ago.
“That’s what we knew was in there, and he showed it tonight,” Kinne said. “We had to have every last yard of it, too. It was an awesome job by him. He’s a special player.”
In a game with lots of scoring, several big defensive plays stood out, in particular Dakota Denney’s interception at the 10-yard line with 2:30 left that set up Mask’s seventh and final rushing TD to seal the win; and Jordan Hume’s blocked extra-point attempt with 7:25 to go that left Sherman still cradling a one-point lead.
“That momentum change right there gave us a spark,” Kinne said. “That put the pressure on them to stop us, instead of trying to get it back and go down and tie it. Jordan Hume played both ways to night and I’m so proud of him.”
Sherman’s passing game finally clicked at times, even though North’s Nick Hutchins had two interception returns for touchdowns. Senior Case Rolen drew the nod at quarterback and was 12-of-21 for 131 yards, and Mask even had a 40-yard completion to Hume.
The game was delayed with 5:24 remaining in the third quarter when sophomore Jordan Henry suffered a neck injury at the end of a short reception. Paramedics attended to him for about 10 minutes on the field and he was taken off in a stretcher. No word on his condition was available.
Sherman got off to fast start, leading by as much as 24-7 before North (1-3, 0-1) rallied behind quarterback Ben Dutze, who finished with 244 yards passing and 46 additional rushing yards.
Sherman took a 38-24 lead early in the third quarter as Mask faked a jet sweep and kept up the middle out of the Bearcat formation from the 6.
But the Bulldogs fired back quickly. Ronald Jones, who carried 17 times for 115 yards, got to the corner on a sweep and scored on a 53-yard romp. Moments later, Hutchins made his second interception of the night and took it 28 yards to tie the game at 38-38 at the 7:36 mark of the third.
Back came the Cats to score again on another Mask 6-yarder, but after an exchange of punts, Dutze led an 80-yard drive that was capped by Jones’ 2-yard run with 7:25 to go, bringing the Bulldogs to within a point.
However, the snap was high, and Hume penetrated and blocked the kick by North’s Raul DelaRosa, keeping Sherman in the lead.
Austin Roan, who earlier nailed a 47-yard field goal, added his second of the night from 25 yards out with 2:42 left; then Denney’s interception led to the final Mask marker of the game.
North tried one last drive and got as close as the Sherman 21, but Sherman’s Tarrence Franklin was in on three straight sacks of Dutze, and one final heave was easily intercepted by Hume as the final horn sounded.