ANNA — Whitesboro quarterback Cade Acker rushed for a game-high 124 yards and tossed two touchdown passes to lead the Bearcats to a season-opening 20-7 win over Anna on Friday at Coyote Stadium. Whitesboro struck for a touchdown on its first drive of the season and again just before halftime for a 13-7 edge at the break. From there, the Bearcats’ defense kept Anna scoreless while Acker and company added a final TD in the fourth quarter.


Penalties, dropped passes and interceptions also kept the Coyotes’ offense hemmed in much of the night. Junior quarterback Jaden Adams, in his first start for Anna, was picked off four times with two coming on tipped balls. Adams completed 13 of 26 attempts for 147 yards.


Acker connected on 7 of 19 throws for 132 yards. The Bearcats put up 305 yards of total offense while Anna, slowed by 11 penalties for 100 yards, got to 209.


Coyotes wideout Noah Palshaw led all receivers with nine catches for 109 yards. Trystan Gaines led Whitesboro receivers with three catches for 76 yards, including a 40-yarder on the Bearcats’ first drive.


Coyote defenders Josh Packard and Abner Dubar came up big with Packard recovering two fumbles and Dubar nabbing an interception. Packard also posted a team-high five solo tackles. Jacob Odom logged three solo tackles for Anna with two quarterback pressures and Micaiah Ross had two pass break-ups and two solo stops.


This was the sixth-straight year these teams have met in the season-opener, with Class 3A Whitesboro now holding a 4-2 edge over the 4A Coyotes.


“Whitesboro definitely is a good team,” Anna head coach Jason Heath said. “Their kids are very disciplined and they get after it. … I thought we played good defensively. We got several turnovers, got stops when we needed it. Offensively, we just shot ourselves in the foot several times. … I thought our kids played hard, never gave up and we gave ourselves a chance several times to stay in the game. It comes down to making plays when we have to and we didn’t do it.”


“It wasn’t pretty by any means,” first-year Bearcats head coach Cody Fagan said. “But our kids came out and fought and that’s what we want. We wanted to be tested early and we’re going to have our hands full with all four of our pre-district games. … We went through a couple of dry spells there in the late first quarter and in the second, and had to face a little adversity. It’s fun to see how they responded to that.”


After Anna’s first possession ended with an interception, Sutton Furhmann’s 2-yard dive up the middle gave the Bearcats a 6-0 lead with 9:25 left in the first quarter. A 2-point-conversion pass attempt was ruled incomplete.


The Coyotes went up, 7-6, in the second frame on Arthur Nwokorie’s tough 3-yard run off right tackle after Abner Dubar had picked off a tipped pass near midfield and returned it to the Whitesboro 13-yard-line.


Anna’s 1-point advantage held until 7 seconds remained in the first half. That’s when the Acker found Major Ledbetter in the right flat for a 7-yard touchdown, capping an eight-play, 65-yard drive. The Coyotes had been flagged for pass interference two plays earlier, moving the ball inside Anna’s 10.


After a scoreless third quarter, the Bearcats went up 20-7 on the first play of the fourth when Acker delivered a 21-yard strike over the middle to a well-defended Jacob Smith. That drive was set up by Smith’s ground-level interception of a ball that had been tipped by three Whitesboro defenders.


Anna had three more scoring chances but would not punch it in. The first opportunity ended when Adams’ pass bounced off a receiver’s hands and was nabbed by Whitesboro’s Gaines at the Bearcat 26.


The Coyotes forced a punt with 7:59 remaining and after an ensuing low snap from center, Packard pounced on the ball at the Whitesboro 11. But after a holding call on the Coyotes and a false start penalty, Adams was sacked for a 7-yard loss. Then on fourth-and-24 from the Bearcats’ 32, Palshaw was stopped short of first-down yardage after a catch down the right side.


Anna got one more chance when Packard recovered a Whitesboro fumble at the Bearcats’ 22 with 3:30 left to play. But on fourth-and-goal from 2, Adams’ pass into the end zone was dropped. One play earlier, the Coyotes appeared to have a touchdown when one referee ruled a catch by Joey Montano, but the call was overruled after some discussion.


Next up, Anna travels to face Class 5A Fort Worth Eastern Hills on Friday.


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Whitesboro 20, Anna 7


Whitesboro 6 7 0 7 - 20


Anna 0 7 0 0 - 7


FIRST QUARTER


W – Sutton Fuhrmann 2 run (pass failed), 9:25


SECOND QUARTER


A – Arthur Nwokorie 3 run (Justin Amon kick), 7:09


W- Major Ledbetter 7 pass from Cade Acker (Jorge Montes kick), 0:07


FOURTH QUARTER


W – Jacob Smith 21 pass from Cade Acker (Jorge Montes kick), 11:52


Stats Whitesboro Anna


First downs 12 12


Rushes-yards 37-166 27-62


Passing yards 139 147


C-A-I 8-20-1 13-26-4


Punts-average 4-27 4-32.5


Penalties-yards 6-39 11-100


Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-0


Individual statistics


Rushing - Whitesboro: Cade Acker 19-124, Devon Price 5-18, Jacob Smith 5-17, Sutton Fuhrmann 7-16, Jacob Hermes 1-(-9). Anna: Arthur Nwokorie 15-39, Abner Dubar 7-29, Dorien Allen 1-0, Jaden Adams 4-(-6).


Passing - Whitesboro: Cade Acker 7-19-1-132, Jacob Hermes 1-1-0-7. Anna: Jaden Adams 13-26-4-147.


Receiving - Whitesboro: Tryston Gaines 3-76, Major Ledbetter 2-20, Jacob Smith 1-21, Andrew Fletcher 1-15, Kasen Todd 1-7. Anna: Noah Palshaw 9-104, Dorien Allen 2-29, Cayden Parrott 1-10, Zachareus Gentry 1-4.