MELISSA – Melissa’s Cardinals celebrated Homecoming on Friday, Sept. 8, with a 55-14 trouncing of Lake Worth in non-district play at Cardinal Stadium. Sophomore quarterback Brendon Lewis led Melissa with 268 yards of total offense, including three touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns. As running back, fellow sophomore Ja’Bray Young rolled to a team-high 101 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown. Young, a state-qualifying sprinter, roamed for 33 and 29 yards, respectively, on his first two touches.

The Cards (1-1) reached the end zone on each of their first four possessions to lead, 27-7, after one quarter. All told, Melissa piled up 482 yards of offense, with 289 coming on the ground, while the Bullfrogs (0-2) were held to 208 total yards.

“It was a good win,” Cards head coach Seth Stinton said. “The most important thing to me is you’ve got guys that have been grinding every day and everybody got to play tonight. I’m excited about that. And everybody played well too.” Stinton said he was looking for “a little extra energy” from his team after last week’s 7-point loss to Argyle Liberty Christian. “We tried to speed it up a little bit on offense. … Defensively, we just tweaked a couple of things—tackled a little bit and ran a couple of different stunts.”

Linebacker Collin O’Neal recovered two fumbles for Melissa — one in the first quarter, one in the third — and safety Chase Mapps’ third-quarter goal-line interception thwarted another Lake Worth drive. “Anytime you can give the ball back to your offense, that’s important,” Stinton said. “We emphasize that. I think you get what you emphasize.”

Lewis connected on 17-of-24 pass attempts for 193 yards with one interception, finding seven different Melissa receivers during the game. Senior Tate Whittington nabbed two of Lewis’ touchdown throws — a pair of 9-yarders over the middle — and senior Marvin Jordan gathered in the other, a 5-yard catch in the right flat. “I thought he read [the defense] very well,” Stinton said of Lewis. “And he spread the ball around to everybody. That’s important for him to do.”

Junior Castleberry led Melissa receivers with four catches for 41 yards.

Lewis’ first scoring run — a 52-yard dash up the right side — came on the third play of Melissa’s first possession, a blitz march starting from the Cards’ 7-yard-line. A holding call on the extra point required sophomore kicker Grayson Hurst to boot it true a second time, which he did from further back and Melissa led, 7-0.

Lake Worth’s Andres Vega stormed back with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but the Cards were just getting warmed up. Lewis steered Melissa’s next drive 65 yards in six plays, with senior Breelyn Armstrong’s 1-yard touchdown dive providing the capper — and a lead the Cards would keep. On this drive, Lewis connected with BJ Lewis on back-to-back completions of 24 and 17 yards to the Frogs’ 38.

O’Neal’s first fumble recovery ended Lake Worth’s next possession at the Melissa 40 after the Frog had driven 40 yards in six plays. It took the Cards just six plays to score again, with Brendon Lewis finding Jordan open for the touchdown and a 21-7 advantage. Preceding the TD toss, junior Kennedy Lewis had gathered in a 25-yard completion and senior Cole McCraw’s 11-yard grab had placed the ball at the Frogs’ doorstep.

Lake Worth went three-and-out next and Melissa sophomore Chase Mapps returned the Frogs’ punt 28 yards to the Lake Worth 41. From there, the Cards needed four plays — including two 11-yard bursts from Armstrong — to score. The payoff came on Lewis’ strike to Whittington over the middle and the Cards led, 27-7.

The Frogs punted again, and this time Melissa went three-and-out. Lake Worth’s next drive was wrecked, in part, by Jordan’s 10-yard sack of Frog quarterback Tremaine Forest, setting up the Cards’ final scoring drive of the half. That march went 55 yards in nine plays, with Whittington taking another short throw over the middle for a 34-7 lead.

With less than three minutes left in the half, Lewis’ screen-pass attempt over the middle was tipped and picked off, but Melissa’s defense would hold. Seconds before the break, Lake Worth’s 25-yard field goal try was no good.

O’Neal’s second loose-ball find—this one deep in Frogs territory—ended Lake Worth’s first possession of the second half. Seven plays later, Young’s 4-yard pay-dirt run sent the lead to 41-7. The Frogs’ next drive ended on 3rd-and-1 when Cardinal defensive linemen Adam Davis and Ryan Humphries stuffed the Lake Worth quarterback for no gain.

Two snaps after the Frogs’ punt, Melissa junior Jason Baker sprinted 34 yards untouched for a touchdown and the Cards led, 48-7. After Lake Worth’s next possession dried up on 4th-and-long, Melissa’s offense moved 66 yards in six plays for its final points. On the drive, Lewis connected with Castleberry for eight and 14 yards, and BJ Lewis for 17, before scrambling up the middle 19 yards for the score and the Cards’ margin was 55-7.

Vega concluded the night’s scoring with his second touchdown for the Frogs, a 56-yard scamper off a reverse.

“We came off a tough loss last week,” Jordan said. “The coaches were on our backs all week. We just wanted to come out here and get a win under our belt and feel good.”

“Finally, we played how we’re supposed to play, how I always knew we’d play,” Brendon Lewis added. “The offensive line did great today.”

Melissa travels south to face Waxahachie Life (0-2) on Friday, Sept. 15.