STORY BY LARRY BOWEN
SAN MARCOS —- A&M Consolidated went into the football playoffs hoping things would change in the new season, but the Tigers encountered the same, old problems against a foe perfectly suited to take advantage.
Fourth-ranked Temple rode a barrage of big plays to a 58-14 victory over the Tigers in a Class 5A Division I bi-district game at Bobcat Stadium on Friday night, surging into the second round and ending a difficult season for Consol.
The Tigers, who began the season ranked fourth and projected as a state title contender, finished the season at 5-6.
District 17-5A champion Temple improved to 9-1 with its first playoff victory since 2003. The Wildcats will play Houston Stratford at Bryan’s Merrill Green Stadium next Friday night.
Temple senior running back Jeff Carr drove the high-powered Wildcat offense with 282 yards on just 15 carries, and his backup Marques Hatcher ran for 141 yards and three touchdowns against a Consol defense that struggled all season without standout linebacker Riley Garner, a Texas A&M commit who suffered a nonfootball injury in August.
The Wildcats rolled up 608 yards of total offense without getting much remarkable from senior quarterback Chad President, except for a 58-yard run in the early going.
“Once they got on a roll, we couldn’t slow them down,” Consol coach David Raffield said. “We knew you had to keep them in check. You had to get them down. We just missed way too many tackles. It wasn’t a good night for the Tigers.”
Even the usually reliable Consol offense sputtered against an attacking group of Temple defenders led by linebacker Ty McCorkle, who returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown. The Tigers lost yards on a whopping 16 plays.
“They really had a lot of those, more than we’re accustomed to giving up,” said Raffield, who went into the game confident in Consol’s ability to score against Temple. “I think we started pressing a little bit too quickly.”
Consol committed five turnovers and effectively had another on a bad snap over the punter’s head. The Tigers might not have won had they been turnover-free, but one proved especially costly.
Despite a horrendous start, Consol trailed by only 14-7 midway through the second quarter. The Tigers put themselves into position to pull even after marching from their 34-yard line to a first-and-goal at the 9, but then lost yards on consecutive running plays to face third down from the 14. Junior quarterback Mason Hickson passed under pressure and was intercepted by McCorkle.
Temple scored just over a minute later and took off from there.
“There were several different momentum shifts early,” Raffield said. “I kept hoping one of them would turn our way and we’d go make something happen, but it didn’t.”
The Wildcats tore through Consol’s defense with stunning ease to start the game. Temple took the opening possession 74 yards in six plays, capped by a 38-yard touchdown pass from President to Davion Curtis.
Temple’s second drive was even faster, and more ominous, taking just two plays and 19 seconds to zip 91 yards. President broke loose for 58 yards on a zone-read keeper and on the next play handed to Carr, who dashed 33 yards to score.
A blowout seemed inevitable after Temple gained 165 yards on its first eight plays, but the Tigers were able settle in thanks to their offense. Consol drove 61 yards in 11 plays on its second possession. Hickson sparked the march with an 18-yard pass to Derrick Dick on third-and-13, and he scored on a 1-yard sneak.
Temple hurt itself with fumbles on its next two possessions, with the Tigers getting recoveries by Will Raffield and Aaron Leventis.
The Wildcats turned McCorkle’s first interception into a six-play, 91-yard touchdown drive, then got a 31-yard field goal on the last play of the half to lead 24-7.
Consol produced a flicker of hope with a 73-yard drive to start the third quarter. Junior Tyri Merchant broke three tackles on a 25-yard touchdown run as he finished with 91 yards on 21 carries.
Carr reasserted Temple’s dominance just three plays later. Coming almost to a complete stop on a run up the middle that seemed sure to produce about 2 yards, Carr jab-stepped between a couple of defenders and popped free in the secondary on the way to a 66-yard touchdown.
Story courtesy of The B/CS Eagle