The Orange Leader
MONT BELVIEU —
Led by sophomore quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole, the West Orange-Stark Mustangs put on an offensive clinic from the opening kickoff to the final horn as they had no problems dispatching the Huffman Falcons 41-9 in Class 3A Region III Division I bidistrict playoff action at Barbers Hill Stadium Thursday night.
All Sterling-Cole accomplished was throwing for a school-record 385 yards and six touchdowns, including to four to receiver Will Johnson. He was extremely accurate all night, completing 19-of-24 passes.
Johnson hauled in eight receptions for 159 yards while fellow receiver Deionte Thompson had six grabs for 116 yards.
WO-S (9-1) finished with 501 total yards.
“We’ve practiced really hard all week going into this game, we were prepared well,” said Sterling-Cole. “We had a good gameplan coming in and we thought we could open things up with the passing game. I’m lucky to have the talent at receiver to throw to, all of those guys are good. You just can’t key on one of them.”
Mustang coach Cornel Thompson was happy with the offensive numbers.
“We really moved the ball and came up with big plays in the passing game,” said Thompson. “Huffman loaded up the box and we were able to attack vertically down the field. Dillon was excellent in his first playoff game. Receivers made some nice plays and what was amazing was how accurate Dillon was on some of those throws.”
The Mustang defense limited Huffman (6-4) to just 180 total yards.
Falcon sophomore quarterback Cody Gaitan completed 16-of-25 passes for 144 yards and was picked off twice. Darion Gray had five catches for 57 yards.
“We held a pretty good little offense down pretty well,” said Thompson. “Their little quarterback is pretty darn good and he’s just a sophomore. That No. 5 (Darion Gray) is a playmaker. We got some pressure on them early, getting a few sacks and creating a couple turnovers.”
The Mustangs sacked Gaitan six times.
WO-S will now move on to face either Columbia or Houston Yates in the area round next week.
Sterling-Cole completed 14-of-16 passes for 202 yards and four touchdowns in the first half alone, three of them going to Johnson as the Mustangs led 27-3 at the intermission.
The Mustangs piled up 303 total yards in the first half.
Johnson hauled in six catches for 99 yards and the three scores while Thompson had four catches for 75 yards and a score in the first 24 minutes.
The Mustangs got on the scoreboard in the first quarter with a eight-play, 45-yard drive capped off by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Sterling-Cole to Thompson over the middle, making it 6-0 with 4:51 in the first.
WO-S upped the margin to 13-0 in the second quarter with an impressive 11-play, 80-yard march that chewed nine minutes off the clock.
Tailback Chris James, who had 52 yards on eight carries in the first half, had a big 37-yard dart down the right sideline and Johnson snared his first TD of the night when he hauled in a five-yard pass in the end zone near the pylon. Kicker Jack Dallas nailed the point-after to make it 13-0 with 7:17 left in the half.
James came up big on the defensive side of the ball when he picked off a Gaitan pass at the Mustang 40 and returned it to the Falcon 30 with 5:39 in the half.
WO-S made the Falcons pay in a hurry when Sterling-Cole hit Johnson in stride over the top and across the middle for a 30-yard touchdown strike to up the margin to 20-0 with 5:31 left.
The Falcons moved the leather from their own 18 all the way down to the Mustang 16 after Gaitan completed three passes to Gray that went for 49 yards on the drive. However, the Mustang defense buckled down and Huffman settled for a nice 33-yard field goal from kicker Cannon Cotter with 2:26 in the half, which was plenty of time for the Mustangs to go down and score again.
Sterling-Cole engineered a superb, eight-play, 85-yard scoring drive to close out the half.
The big play came on a 46-yard dart to Thompson that set up shop at the Falcon 39. Seven plays later, the Sterling-Cole-Johnson hookup came through again on a 15-yard touchdown toss over the middle of the end zone that made it 27-3 with 0:42 in the half.
WO-S limited Huffman to 98 total yards in the half.
Gaitan was 10-of-13 for 103 yards and Gray had four catches for 61 yards but WO-S held the Falcons to a minus five yards rushing as the Mustangs sacked Gaitan five times.
After Gray ran the second half kickoff back 51 yards, the Falcons couldn’t move the ball from the Mustang 34 and Cotter missed a 51-yard field goal attempt with 11 minutes left in the third.
The Mustangs got on the board again with Sterling-Cole hitting Johnson in stride on a 53-yard touchdown bomb to make it 34-3 with 1:42 in the third. On the previous play, Sterling-Cole teamed up with Chris Horn on a 47-yard touchdown that was called back due to a Mustang penalty.
WO-S finished with 13 penalties for 106 yards.
“When we get back, we’ve got to correct those things, it’s just silly,” said Thompson. “Too many dang procedure and false start calls. We’ve got to correct that and correct that in a hurry.”
Sterling-Cole and the Mustangs were not through yet because on the first play of the fourth quarter, Sterling-Cole hit back Tre Baldwin on a screen pass and the sophomore back took it 80 yards for the score to make it 41-3 with 11:40 remaining.
Huffman put together a 12-play, 51-yard drive late in the fourth with Gaitan capping it with a one-yard touchdown plunge with 0:29 left.
WO-S 6 21 7 7 —41
Huff 0 3 0 6—9
WO-S: Deionte Thompson 15 pass from Dillon Sterling-Cole. Kick failed.
WO-S: Will Johnson 5 pass from Sterling-Cole. Jack Dallas kick.
WO-S: Johnson 30 pass from Sterling-Cole. Dallas kick.
Huffman: Cannon Cotter 33 field goal.
WO-S: Johnson 16 pass from Sterling-Cole. Dallas kick.
WO-S: Johnson 3 pass from Sterling-Cole. Dallas kick.
WO-S: Tre Baldwin 80 pass from Sterling-Cole. Dallas kick.
Huffman: Cody Gaitan 1 run. PAT failed.
First downs 20 16
Rushes-yards 27-116 24-36
Passing 385 144
Comp-Att-Int 19-24-1 16-25-2
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 13-106 9-75
Rushing: WO-S, Chris James 14-59, Dillon Sterling-Cole 10-23, Chase Rutledge 2-23, Dwain Boullard 1-11; Huffman, Cesar Marroquin 6-21, Darion Gray 3-7, Richard Marches 1-6, Cody Gaitan 14-2.
Passing: WO-S, Dillon Sterling-Cole 19-24-1 385, Huffman, Cody Gaitan 16-25-0 144
Receiving: WO-S, Will Johnson 8-159, Deionte Thompson 6-116, Dwain Boullard 3-14, Tre Baldwin 1-80, Chris Horn 1-14; Huffman, Darion Gray 5-57, Cesar Marroquin 4-29, Lance Shiveley 4-28, Clay Barnes 2-18, Richard Marches 1-10.