Sherman stuns Rockwall-Heath with huge rally

DENTON, Texas -- Sherman needed one big-time rally to upset Waxahachie last week.

Against Rockwall-Heath on Saturday, the Bearcats needed two.

Having already coughed up the lead it had taken after rallying from down 19, Sherman staged a second comeback when JT Luper scored on a 31-yard reception with 35 seconds left in the game to give the Bearcats a 28-25 win over Rockwall-Heath at a cold and blustery Apogee Stadium.

Sherman (10-3) advances to play Tyler John Tyler (10-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at SMU in the 4A Division I Region II finals.

Rockwall-Heath (11-2) gave up a 19-0 lead during a six-minute span from the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, but the Hawks responded with a brilliant 80-yard drive capped by quarterback Cody Court's 2-yard touchdown run that gave his team a 25-20 lead with 1:25 left in the game.

"We knew we were going to go down the field and score because we've done it so many times before," said Heath head coach Mickey Moss. "But they made some good plays down there at the end."

Sherman's offense struggled throughout but stepped up when it matter most. The Bearcats didn't even need a minute to reclaim the lead as quarterback Gus Daniel completed passes of 15, 13 and 31 yards to get Sherman in the end zone with 35 seconds to spare.

"We just had to block up front because Heath is really good," said Sherman head coach Gary Kinne. "Our receivers, Luper had an unbelievable catch. He did it all himself."

The wind played a part in not only giving the Hawks the lead, but also helping them cough it up. With Heath leading 6-0, two bad Sherman punts into the wind gave Heath a short field that it converted into Court touchdown passes to Alan Wilcoxson (8 yards) and Amaris Fields (14 yards).

But things unraveled quickly. Following Fields' touchdown, Sherman's Ryan Reid returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown to close the third quarter, cutting Heath's lead to 19-6.

"It sparked us," Kinne said. "I couldn't be more proud of him. He shut down half the field at cornerback for most of the game."

When the teams switched sides, the wind that had aided Heath in the third quarter became its worst enemy. Heath set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Luper after its punt into the wind went for minus-15 yards, putting Sherman at the Heath 4-yard line.

Not wanting to punt into the wind again after a three-and-out on their next drive, the Hawks went for it on fourth-and-3 and came up short, again giving Sherman a short field that Daniel quickly converted into a 9-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Harvey.

Six minutes after they trailed by three scores, the Bearcats took a 20-19 lead.

"The wind was definitely a factor on both sides," Moss said.

Neither team got much going in the first half. Sherman threw three interceptions in the half while Heath had two of its three turnovers on downs before halftime, in addition to a fumble.

Heath finally opened the scoring with 55 seconds left in the second quarter when defensive end Jordan Points, lined up at fullback, got into the end zone on a wheel route.

With the wind in its face in the third quarter, Sherman just tried to buy time until it was going for the other end zone.

"They had a lot to do with it -- they have a good football team," Kinne said of Sherman's struggles in the first half. "They picked him [Daniel] off early and we learned what we can and can't do. We just waited to get the wind so we could throw the ball downfield."