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WILDCAT STADIUM, Paris — The Melissa Cardinals spoiled Homecoming for Paris, turning two turnovers into touchdowns in a 20-second span of the second quarter Friday night en route to a 43-13 victory and went on to defeat the Wildcats 43-13.
Paris has been outscored 133-29 over the past three weeks. The Wildcats were intercepted twice and lost four.
Melissa improved to 4-1, and Paris fell to 1-4.
Paris took the opening kickoff and went 61 yards in nine plays, including three first downs, for a 7-0 lead on Kenny Mason’s 3-yard run with 7:48 left in the first quarter.
The Wildcats then allowed Melissa only 15 yards on seven plays, but disaster struck on Melissa’s fourth-and-9 punt from its 41. The punt sailed to the Paris 20, where Cordarrius Hill fumbled after trying to field the kick on a bounce at the Wildcat 20.
Melissa needed only two plays to make Paris pay. Marcus Ellis, a 5-8, 151-pound running back, slipped through for 13 yards and a first down at the 7, and quarterback Taylor McGehee scored on the next play for a 7-7 tie with 4:26 left in the first quarter.
On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, Melissa’s J.C. Cottrell stepped in front of Allen’s sideline pass to the right flat on first-and-10 from the Wildcat 30 and strolled untouched into the end zone. Just like that, Melissa had turned a 7-0 deficit into a 14-7 lead.
Paris lost 10 yards in three plays on its next possession and punted the ball away. Melissa built its lead to 21-7 by going 58 yards in eight plays, getting a touchdown on Cade Cruce’s 5-yard run with 10 seconds left in the first quarter for a 21-7 lead.
The Cardinals’ lead was 30-7 at the half on McGehee’s 6-yard pass to Cottrell with 15 seconds left in the second quarter, followed by a successful onside kick and Cruce’s 32-yard field goal with no time remaining.
Melissa began using its reserves in the third quarter. Second-team quarterback Tyler West threw a pass to 6-4, 202-pound receiver Xavier Mason who broke into the clear and went 67 yards for a touchdown that made it 37-7.
Paris’ second touchdown came on Allen’s 37-yard pass to K.D. Scott, who was five yards behind a Melissa defender at the 10 for an easy score.
Trailing 37-13, Paris disdained the punt on fourth-and-6 at its own 33 with 2:30 left in the third quarter, and Allen was stopped for no gain. Melissa needed just three plays to cover the 33 yards. Ellis gained 12 yards on the first play, 17 more on the second play, and the final four yards on the third play.
Twice, Paris came away empty after getting into the red zone. Midway through the first second quarter, quarterback Quez Allen was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the 4, and early in the fourth quarter Melissa’s Lance Brackett intercepted Allen’s throw into the end zone on first-and-10 at the 16.
Melissa coaches apparently were watching when Paris fumbled on three straight onside kicks a week earlier against Sulphur Springs. The Cardinals tried the same strategy, with similar results. Paris lost the ball on two onside kicks.
Paris had 140 yards on the ground and 136 yards in the air, while Melissa had 193 yards on the ground and 196 yards passing.
McGehee was the Cardinals’ leading rusher with 88 yards. Ellis added 51. McGehee completed 12-of-23 passes for 110 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions, and backup quarterback Tyler West completed 3-of-6 for 86 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.
Allen carried the ball 17 times for 88 yards and completed 9-of-18 passes for 136 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Naire Gaines was the second-leading rusher with 29 yards, coming on four consecutive carries on the Wildcats’ final series of the game. Dren Rollerson had 22 yards on seven carries, Mason 8 yards on four carries, and Hill 6 yards on one carry.
Melissa had 21 first downs, Paris 11.
Megan Kindle was crowned Homecoming Queen in a pre-game ceremony.
PARIS 7-0- 6- 0–13
Paris — Kenny Mason 3 run (Blake Beshirs kick), 7-0 (7:48 1Q)
Melissa — Taylor McGehee 7 run (Cade Cruce kick), 7-7 (4:26 1Q)
Melissa — J.C. Cottrell 30 interception return (Cruce kick), 14-7 (4:06 1Q)
Melissa — Cruce 5 run (Cruce kick), 21-7 (0:10 1Q)
Melissa – Cottrell 6 pass from Taylor McGehee (kick failed), 27-7 (0:15 2Q)
Melissa — FG Cruce 32, 30-7 (0:00 2Q)
Melissa – Xavier Mason 67 pass from Tyler West (Cruce kick) 37-7 (7:31 3Q)
Paris — K.D. Scott 37 pass from Quez Allen (pass failed), 37-13 (7:04 3Q)
Melissa — Marcus Ellis 4 run (kick failed), 43-13 (1:52 3Q)
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra