If anyone wondered whether the Melissa Cardinals’ season opening loss to Celina was an indication that the team had lost a step, the last four games should provide evidence to the contrary.
Melissa (4-1, 0-0) traveled to Paris (1-4, 0-0) on Friday night and totally dominated the Wildcats, scoring 37 unanswered points to get the 43-13 win, their fourth in a row.
"I thought our kids played really hard," Melissa Head Coach Seth Stinton said. "We challenged them this week to put together a complete game and they responded well. Our defense played extremely hard and did some things to frustrate them."
The Cats looked like they were going to be competitive early when they scored on their opening drive less then four minutes into the game. However, the Cats were their own worst enemy as they could not keep a handle on the ball.
After Melissa’s special teams squad recovered a muffed punt inside the red zone, its offense was able to punch it in two plays later as junior quarterback Taylor McGehee found the end zone from seven yards out to tie the game at 7-7.
Two plays later, JC Cottrell intercepted a pass and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown to give Melissa the lead. Before the end of the first quarter, Cade Cruce put Melissa up by two scores when he scampered in from five yards out.
The Cardinals scored 23 more points before Paris was able to respond.
As he has most of the season, McGehee led Melissa in rushing and passing. He was 12-for-23 for 108 yards and a touchdown through the air and added 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground. So far this season, McGehee has thrown for nearly 800 yards and seven touchdowns and has more than 400 yards on the ground with an additional seven scores. Marcus Ellis also has seven rushing touchdowns and almost 400 yards.
"Our offensive line did a great job of protecting our QB and creating seams for our running backs," Stinton said. "Special teams really stood out this week; we created three turnovers."
Cottrell scored again, this time on the offensive side of the ball when he caught a 6-yard pass late in the second quarter. Melissa’s second quarterback option, Tyler West, was able to show off his arm when he connected with Xavier Mason in the third quarter for a 66-yard touchdown.
Paris answered that third quarter score with their second and final trip to the end zone. However, Melissa’s Elis scored late in the third to put the final nail in the coffin.
The Cardinals will take their 4-1 record on the road for a special Saturday game at Abilene’s Shotwell Stadium, taking on Lubbock Estacado in their final pre-district game of the season.
"This week Estacado is very talented and very explosive on the offensive side of the ball," Stinton said. "We really must do a great job of playing with great enthusiasm again this week and put together a great game plan to slow them down."