By JASON EPP
Leader & Times
TURPIN, Okla.-The Thomas Terriers marched into town carrying the No.1 ranking in the coaches poll, and shutout a Turpin team struggling to find an identity with the loss of several key players to injury. And while the Terrier offense may have not been in full swing, the defense was stellar.
" We knew it would be a tough night to move the ball," said Cardinal head coach Mario Mendoza.
With Turpin's main offensive weapon, Matt Mendoza, out for the season with a knee injury, the Cardinal offense could only muster four yards of offense in the first half. Their only first down of the half came on a pass interference call on a third-and-19. Luckily, the 15-yard penalty also comes with an automatic first down.
Turpin was able to force a punt on the Terriers first possession, and recovered a fumble on their third to keep the game within reach early on. But without any offensive movement, Thomas continued to start drives on Turpin's side of the field. Playing from the downhill position all night, Thomas ran only two plays on their side of the field in the first half, both caused by back-to-back penalties.
The Terriers used the short field to score two touchdowns in the first quarter to take a 14-0 lead. The third TD came when a Terrier linebacker timed his blitz perfectly, and hit Cardinal QB Bradley Kinser almost as soon as he took the snap. Payton Marsh picked it up and strolled in for the 23-yard touchdown. Thomas added another before the half to lead 27-0.
Turpin was held to just 118 yards of total offense on 44 plays, and six first downs. Thomas totaled 278 yards on 43 plays, and twelve first downs, which was well below their season average.
"There were some good things and some bad things," said Mendoza. "We have to have some guys step up; no ifs, ands, or buts about it. We also need to look at the film and see what mistakes we need to correct."
Offensively for the Cardinals, Bradley Kinser rushed for 62 yards on 14 carries, and Willy Enriquez got 32 yards on 17 carries. Defensively, Jake Jiminez was the top tackler with 8 and Kinser finished with 7. Taylor Olomon recorded a fumble recovery and a tackle for loss.
Turpin is now 1-4 overall, and 0-3 in district play, and will host Texhoma next Friday.