GRAPEVINE — For those who crave suspense, Friday’s Class 4A Region II bi-district playoff scrap between Melissa and Wilmer-Hutchins was perhaps not your thing. But for “Red-Red” Cardinal fans, this chilly, clear evening at Mustang-Panther Stadium was sublime.
With 28 unanswered points in the first quarter, the Cards left little doubt how this would end up - then rolled on to a 56-6 victory over the No. 3 seed from District 8-4A(I).
Melissa (8-3), the No. 2 seed from District 7-4A(I), racked up over 500 yards of offense, as quarterback Brendon Lewis rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 141 yards and two more scores. Tyler Burton led Cards receivers with five catches for 46 yards and a touchdown while Antonio Robinson collected three for 53. Kicker Luke Hansen booted home 8-of-8 extra-point tries.
Melissa running back Braeden Smith tallied 62 yards on the ground on six carries, with TD runs of 21 and 39 yards, and Xylohn Posey churned out 63 yards on six tries, including an 18-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter.
“The line made great blocks and made the holes for me,” Smith said. “I just ran the ball.”
“We’re doing great right now,” Posey said. “We getting all our little tweaks together and just trying to finish strong – trying to make it great.”
What must the Cards do to keep rolling? “Stay focused and have great practices throughout the week - don’t let up,” Smith said. Added Posey, “Play good defense, give our all and execute on every play.”
Wilmer-Hutchins (6-5) was led by quarterback Kyle Douglas, Jr. who completed 21-of-47 passes for 241 yards. Melissa defenders picked off three of those aerials - two by Chase Mapps, one by Chance Mapps. The Eagles were held to 52 yards on the ground.
Defensive lineman Ethan McCollum had a big night for Melissa with three sacks, two solo tackles and two assists.
“That first quarter is a great testament to the kids’ work ethic,” Melissa head coach Matt Nally said. “And our coaching staff is, in my opinion, one of the best coaching staffs in the state of Texas.
“We knew going into the game they were going to be explosive on offense, so we had to get some pressure on the quarterback early. … We’re decimated by injuries in the back end, [defensively], so we had to play some kids that normally don’t play defense.” In that regard, Nally praised the play of Antjuan Turner and Chase Mapps.
“Offensively, the one thing about us is we’re so versatile,” Nally said. “If they’re a great pass-defense team, we can run the football. If they’re a great run-defense team, we can throw the football. And we have a stable of running backs. All of our running backs can get after it and get ‘er done.”
Asked about knowing when to pull starters in a game like this, Nally said, “We want to finish the third quarter, but it depends on how the game goes. Tonight we were just going to finish the third quarter. It’s the playoffs. We’ve got to keep our kids fresh and in game shape.”
The Cards now have a short week to prepare for China Spring (4-7), upset winners over Kennedale (7-4). That contest is slated for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Lumpkins Stadium in Waxahachie.
Melissa needed just four plays to put the first points on the board. Posey opened the game with 21-yard burst up the middle and Lewis soon slipped round the right side for a touchdown from 22 yards out. The Eagles were unable to answer, punting after three plays, and Melissa took over on its own 41. Two short gains by Ja’Bray Young and a short pass to Robinson had the Cards looking at 4th-and-4. Lewis’ run came up a yard short and Wilmer-Hutchins took over at midfield.
Whatever momentum the Eagles gained was quickly lost when Douglas’ first-down pass down the left side was picked off by Chase Mapps and returned to the Cards’ 47. Three plays later, Smith took off on his first TD run - the 21-yarder - and with first quarter not half gone, the Cards led, 14-0.
After another three-and-out - and a short punt - Melissa was perched at the Eagles’ 36. Soon facing 4th-and-6, the Cards went for it again and this time Lewis delivered a 31-yard TD strike over the middle to Colton Wittwer.
A 15-yard hands-to-the-face penalty and a snap over the quarterback’s head stifled Wilmer-Hutchins next possession. Lewis then led a six-play, 60-yard scoring drive capped by an 8-yard screen pass to Burton for a four-touchdown lead with five seconds left in the first stanza.
The Eagles returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield where Douglas got untracked for four completions, the last going for an 11-yard touchdown to Jalin Moore. Wilmer-Hutchins got the ball right back when the Cards mishandled the kickoff, but would turn the ball over on downs.
On Melissa’s next play from scrimmage, Lewis got loose for 65 yards to the Eagles’ 3-yard-line. Young punched it two plays later and the Cards led, 35-6, with 5:46 remaining before halftime.
Wilmer-Hutchins then mounted its best march of the game - 65 yards in 13 plays - to the Cards’ 7. But on third-and-goal with 11 seconds to go in the half, Douglas’ pass into the end zone was intercepted by Chase Mapps.
To open the second half, the Eagles moved 40 yards to Melissa’s 32 where the drive stalled on fourth down. Two plays later, Lewis was picked off on a deep ball down the left side, but Wilmer-Hutchins’ subsequent possession ended at the Cards’ 34. Posey then carried three times for 18 yards before Lewis took a quarterback draw 48 yards for a touchdown and Melissa’s margin was 42-6 with 3:46 left in the third.
Chance Mapps’ pick ended the Eagles’ next drive and, seven plays later, Posey swept the right side, hurdled a defender and cruised in for his 18-yard TD. “I saw my guard was blocking to the edge so I cut back in,” Posey said. “All I could see was the end zone.”
Smith closed out the scoring with his 39-yard jaunt to pay dirt on the Cards’ first play of the fourth quarter. Breaking free up the middle, he cut left then outran Eagle defenders to the end zone.
Melissa got Ian Keever back from injury this night, in limited action at linebacker, and defensive back Chanse Holiday, back from injury last week, saw increased playing time.
Melissa 28 7 14 7 - 56
Wilmer-Hutchins 0 6 0 0 - 6
M – Brendon Lewis 22 run (Luke Hansen kick), 10:39
M – Braeden Smith 21 run (Luke Hansen kick), 6:45
M – Colton Wittwer 31 pass from Brendon Lewis (Luke Hansen kick), 4:06
M – Tyler Burton 8 pass from Brendon Lewis (Luke Hansen kick), 0:05
WH – Jalin Moore 11 pass from Kyle Douglas, Jr. (pass failed), 10:17
M- Ja’Bray Young 2 run (Luke Hansen kick), 4:47
M – Brendon Lewis 48 run (Luke Hansen kick), 3:46
M – Xylohn Posey 18 run (Luke Hansen kick), 0:17
M – Braeden Smith 38 run (Luke Hansen kick), 10:52 kick
Stats Melissa W-H
First downs 18 18
Rushes-yards 30-356 25-52
Passing yards 147 241
C-A-I 11-16-1 21-47-3
Punts-average 2-26 5-23
Penalties-yards 8-72 5-45
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0
Rushing - Melissa: Brendon Lewis 7-165, Xylohn Posey 6-63, Braeden Smith 6-62, Ja’Bray Young 8-41, Ashton Mitchell-Johnson 3-25. W-H: Nathaniel Wright 11-59, Billy Monroe III, 7-20, Tarion Landers 3-2, Kyle Douglas Jr. 7-(-27).
Passing - Melissa: Brendon Lewis 10-15-1-141, Parker Taylor 1-1-0-6. W-H: Kyle Douglas Jr. 21-47-3-241.
Receiving – Melissa: Tyler Burton 5-46, Antonio Robinson 3-53, Colton Wittwer 1-31, Antjuan Turner 1-11, Jack Richardson 1-6. W-H: Zacchaeus Henderson 6-94, Andre Henderson 4-57, Davarion Gillespie 4-41, Jalin Moore 3-38, Billy Monroe III 2-10, Rodrick Tolbert 2-1.