ANNA — With fall weather finally descended upon North Texas on Friday - 57 degrees at kickoff with a brisk north wind and clear skies - Melissa’s Cardinals tamed Anna once again, this time 40-7 before packed bleachers on both sides of the gridiron. It was the Cards’ ninth win in this now 10-meeting series with their purple-clad rivals to the north.
Melissa quarterback Brendon Lewis had another big night, tossing four touchdown passes enroute to 234 yards through the air. He also rushed 10 times for a game-high 80 yards and another score. On the receiving end of Lewis’ TD strikes were Ezra Monroe, Chase Mapps, Antjuan Turner and Antonio Robinson. Turner and Monroe each posted a team-high three catches for 78 and 62 yards, respectively.
The Cards (4-2, 2-0) pulled away in the second quarter with 20 unanswered points to lead, 26-0, at halftime. The decisive victory sets up a showdown with Celina (5-2, 3-0) at Melissa on Friday. The Bobcats drubbed a good Paris team, 34-0, on Friday.
“They’re obviously a very high-powered offense,” Anna head coach Jason Heath said of the Cards. “They do a great job, offensively. I thought early on, we did some good things, but with a team like that they’re going to find a weakness somewhere and they’re going to attack it. With the weapons they have and what they’re able to do offensively, it makes it tough. … But those are the team’s we’ve got to play. Those are the teams we’ve got to face week-in and week-out if we want to extend our season.”
Said Melissa head coach Matt Nally, “We had talked about complacency just because of coming off that big win against Paris [Sept. 27] then going into the bye week. I was really pleased with the kids - I would say mid-first quarter through the half, and in the third quarter we came out with a lot of energy. That’s what I was hoping to start the game with. Sometimes when you’re dealing with 16- and 17-year-old kids, you don’t always get what you want. But they played extremely hard and they got after it. Coach Heath does an unbelievable job with his kids. There were ready to play against us tonight and it was just an exciting time to be a Melissa Cardinal and get a win.
“Obviously, Brendon’s got a canon. We can do so many things with him in regard to our passing game, in isolating receivers.”
The Cards’ Xylon Posey roamed for 72 yards on 10 carries and Ja’Bray Young added 52 more, also on 10 tries, while splitting time at linebacker. “We’ve got a stable of backs,” Nally said. “And right now we’re so beat up at the outside linebacker position that Ja’Bray has to play there for us. We’re hoping to get a couple of those kids back next week or the week after that so he can start carrying the ball a little bit more. But Xylon, I guarantee his average is 8-, 9-plus [yards per carry.] We are just so blessed in that situation. Then Braedan [Smith] is such a tough runner as well.”
Defensively, linebacker Parker Jack’s nine solo tackles and nine assists led the Cards while defensive back Damon Youngblood logged six solo stops and nabbed an interception. D-lineman Ethan McCollum recorded three solo tackles with five assists.
Arthur Nwokorie led Anna rushers with 59 yards on 14 carries and Davonte Davis chipped in 10 attempts for 53 yards. Jaden Adams went the whole way at quarterback for the Coyotes, completing 12-of-25 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Anna’s lone score came on Adams’ 30-yard TD throw to Dorien Allen in the fourth quarter.
Linebacker Josh Packard was the Coyotes’ leading tackler, with six solo stops, three assists and a sack, while linebacker John Mark Box tallied five solos and four assists. In the secondary, Allen had four solos with an assist.
Melissa was without starting placekicker Luke Hansen due to injury as well as linebacker Braylon Brown, last year’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year. The Coyotes were missing All-District safety Abner Dubar and linebacker Caden Joyce.
Anna started strong with Nwokorie bursting 34 yards off left tackle on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Adams soon followed with a 17-yard scamper to the Cards’ 27 then, on fourth-and-10, he found Noah Palshaw over the middle for a first down at the Melissa 14. Two Micaiah Ross runs got the ball to Cards’ 1 but from there Melissa’s defense stuffed three-straight Ross tries and the Coyotes came away empty. Leading the defensive charge on third and fourth down, respectively, were Young and Caleb Kroese.
“We didn’t punch it in,” Heath said. “We’ve got to be able to do that.”
“If you’re a defensive guy,” Nally said, “that is what you want. You want that goal-line stand. For our kids to execute … and make those pivotal tackles in that situation was obviously a good motivator for us.”
The Cards then marched 99 yards in 14 plays for the game’s first points. Big gainers on the drive included Posey’s 14-yard run, a 17-yard burst by Young and a 22-yard Lewis-to-Monroe completion that went to the Anna 1. Young surged in for a touchdown on the next play.
Anna’s next possession ended when Adams’ deep throw down the left side was picked off by Youngblood at the Cards’ 14.
The ensuing Melissa drive extended into the second quarter - with the same result as its first. Posey sparked this 86-yard march to pay dirt with a 24-yard ramble up the middle on second down. Three plays later, Lewis lofted a perfect 32-yard aerial to a streaking Monroe who made an over the shoulder catch in the end zone. A 2-point conversion pass failed and the Cards led, 12-0.
Anna then went three-and-out as Melissa’s momentum continued to build. Taking over at midfield, the Cards needed seven plays to score again – a 16-yard shot over the middle from Lewis to Chase Mapps. That drive included a bruising 15-yard run by Lewis on fourth-and-4 from the Coyotes’ 34. Posey’s 2-point conversion run made it, 20-0, with 7:16 left in the first half.
Anna had something going on its next possession, boosted by Davis taking his first three carries of the game a combined 24 yards to the Coyotes’ 37. A pass interference call on Melissa gave Anna first down at the Coyotes’ 45 and Adams soon rushed 14 yards for another first down. After Adams connected with Allen for 11 yards to Melissa’s 39, the drive stalled when Adams’ pass to Joey Montano came up five yards short on fourth-and-11 from the Cards’ 30.
Melissa struck for another touchdown three plays later, this time on a 64-yard Lewis-to-Turner deep ball down the right sideline.
Down, 26-0, with a minute left before halftime, the Coyotes got to Melissa’s 35 on Adams’ 18-yard toss to Allen but they could not cash in before the break.
To open the second half, the Cards picked up where they left off, marching 67 yards in four plays for a touchdown. Lewis targeted Robinson on the drive’s final two plays – the first, a 44-yard completion to a diving Robinson down the right side; the second, for six points from 11 yards out. “It was a great catch by Antonio down the sideline,” Nally said, “and a great back-shoulder fade to him to score.”
The Coyotes moved back into Melissa territory on their next possession on Adams’ 17-yard connection with Micaiah Ross. But on fourth-and-8 from the 34, Adams was sacked for a loss by Ashton Mitchell-Johnson.
Lewis then led a 65-yard drive for the Card’s final TD, a march highlighted by Tyler Burton’s 20-yard catch-and-run down the left sideline to the Anna 17. Young’s 14-yard dash moved Melissa to the Coyotes’ 7 and three plays later from the 5, Lewis waltzed around right end for the score. Posey’s second 2-point conversion run of the night made it 40-0 with 2:29 left in the third.
The Cards worked in plenty of players in the fourth quarter, including junior quarterback Parker Taylor. “Parker Taylor is going to be the guy next year,” Nally said. “He needs game-time quality reps. … We don’t put kids into the game to run the clock out. You’re not going to get any better just handing the ball off. Parker did a great job. He threw a great ball to George Lado, off a concept he saw. He threw another great ball to Trey Johnson. … He is such a skillful runner and he did a great job on a zone-read.”
Melissa 6 20 14 0 - 40
Anna 0 0 0 7 - 7
M - Ja’Bray Young 1 run (kick failed), 2:32
M - Ezra Monroe 32 pass from Brendon Lewis (pass failed), 10:30
M - Chase Mapps 16 pass from Brendon Lewis (Xylon Posey run), 7:16
M - Antjuan Turner 64 pass from Brendon Lewis (kick failed), 1:58
M - Antonio Robinson 11 pass from Brendon Lewis (run failed), 10:25
M - Brendon Lewis 5 run (Xylon Posey run), 2:29
A – Dorien Allen 30 pass from Jaden Adams (Justin Amon kick), 5:53
Stats Melissa Anna
First downs 26 16
Rushes-yards 42-276 38-166
Passing yards 264 115
C-A-I 15-26-0 12-25-1
Punts-average 1-46 3-33.3
Penalties-yards 8-79 3-25
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-0
Rushing – Melissa: Brendon Lewis 10-80, Xylon Posey 10-72, Ja’Bray Young 10-52, Braeden Smith 8-42, Parker Taylor 2-11, Antonio Robinson 1-11, Ashton Mitchell-Johnson 1-8. Anna: Arthur Nwokorie 14-59, 10-53, Jaden Adams 7-37, Micaiah Ross 7-17.
Passing - Melissa: Brendon Lewis 12-16-0-234, Parker Taylor 3-10-0-30. Anna: Jaden Adams 12-25-1-115.
Receiving – Melissa: Antjuan Turner 3-78, Ezra Monroe 3-62, Antonio Robinson 2-55, Chase Mapps 2-15, Tyler Burton 1-20, Trey Johnson 1-16, George Lado 1-9, Colton Wittwer 1-5, Xylon Posey 1-4. Anna: Dorien Allen 4-55, Noah Palshaw 3-14, Joey Montano 2-15, Arthur Nwokorie 2-14, Micaiah Ross 1-17.