Melissa went way out of its normal circle of opponents for a thrilling pre-district finale on Saturday afternoon in Abilene. The Cardinals faced a monstrous rushing attack but were able to make stops when needed and rack up the points on their way to a 56-28 win over Lubbock Estacado.
"I really thought our kids did a great job of staying focused," Melissa Head Coach Seth Stinton said. "We had opportunities with the long bus ride and the weather not cooperating to make excuses and lose concentration on the game, but our kids didn’t do that. We stayed focused and really put together a great game."
Tyler West has been a seldom-used backup player in the first half of the season but Estacado had no answer for him. West had three touchdown passes and 274 yards in the air and also led the team in rushing with 127 yards, filling the holes left by Taylor McGehee and Marcus Ellis.
"Tyler West had a great game; he has done a great job of taking advantage of his opportunity," Stinton said. "He prepares like the starting QB everyday in practice and it really showed with his efforts on Saturday."
The teams traded scores through the first quarter-and-a-half with Melissa scoring first on a 25-yard run from Cade Cruce. Estacado answered with a 65-yard rushing score, but the Cardinals found the end zone again when CJ Taylor punched it in from two yards out.
In the second quarter Melissa started to create some breathing room. After Estacado was able to get within a point, the Cardinals closed out the half with a 14-0 run via a Cameron Hunter touchdown reception — his second of the quarter — and a second short run from Tyler.
Melissa (5-1, 0-0) went into the locker room with a 35-20 lead in its pocket. However, Estacado had its way rushing in the first half and finished the game with more than 400 yards on the ground.
"Anytime our defense gives up big plays and big yards against teams it really worries you. But after the first half we made some really important adjustments, and our kids stopped them when it mattered," Stinton said. "We challenged them at halftime to tackle better, and Coach Travis Roberson did some things scheme-wise that caused [Estacado] some fits. This week we will focus on getting back to basics, tackling and blocking."
Melissa was able to hold Estacado to just eight points in the second half while it scored the final three touchdowns of the game — two courtesy of Cruce and a run by West as the Cardinals cruised to the win.
Melissa will enjoy a deserved bye this week as they look to get some players healthy and focus on the next four district games — the only ones that really matter.
"This is a much-needed bye," Stinton said. "We need to get healthy and get ready for the district race to begin."
Melissa 56, Lubbock Estacado 28
Melissa 14 21 14 7 — 56
Lubbock Estacado 12 8 8 0 — 28
MS — Cade Cruce 25-yard run (Cade Cruce kick)
LE — Robert Johnson 65-yard run (kick failed)
MS — CJ Tyler 2-yard run (Cade Cruce kick)
LE — Robert Johnson 31-yard run (run failed)
MS — Cameron Hunter 25-yard pass from Tyler West (Cade Cruce kick)
LE — Robert Johnson 7-yard run (Brian Roberts from Jalen Tennison)
MS — Cameron Hunter 8-yard pass from Tyler West (Cade Cruce kick)
MS — CJ Tyler 1-yard run (Cade Cruce kick)
LE — Robert Johnson 59-yard run (Brian Roberts from Jalen Tennison)
MS — Cade Cruce 1-yard run (Cade Cruce kick)
MS — Tyler West 4-yard run (Cade Cruce kick)
MS — Cade Cruce 10-yard pass from Tyler West (Daniel Acheampong kick)
First downs 18 18
Rushes-Yds 31-155 51-423
Comp-Att-Int 21-33-1 3-13-2
Pass yards 276 18
Total yards 431 441
Punts-Avg 2-32 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-yds 3-25 3-17
PASSING – Melissa: Tyler West 20-32-274-3-1, Cade Cruce 1-1- 2-0-0; Lubbock Estacado: Jalen Tennison 3-13-18-0-2.
RUSHING – Melissa: Tyler West 15-127, Cade Cruce 9-22, CJ Tyler 5-10, Karson Munson 2-(-4); Lubbock Estacado: Robert Johnson 29-293, Jalen Tennison 13-58, Tamory Terry 7-46, Kenaris Jackson 1-16, Roderick Hall 1-10.
RECEIVING – Melissa: Xavier Mason 4-88, Cameron Hunter 8-71, J.C. Cottrell 3-55, CJ Tyler 2-28, Dylan Cardwell 3-24, Cade Cruce 1-10; Lubbock Estacado: Larry Rosas 1-13, Dorean Deary 2-5.