WAXAHACHIE — A guarantee of the unknown is one of the lone predictable outcomes when two rivals separated by fewer than 17 miles meet for the 96th time on the gridiron.
For proof, look no further than senior quarterback Bryse Salik. The Waxahachie signal caller doubled his season totals in yards and touchdowns during a 42-28 win over Ennis on Friday night.
Salik entered the game having completed .745 percent of his passes (35-47) for 357 yards and four touchdowns. On Friday, he finished 21-of-31 for 358 yards and four touchdowns. Salik also completed passes to six different receivers, led by Jerreth Sterns with six grabs for 101 yards, Tevin Wofford (4-93) and Demani Richardson (2-80). Sterns added 55 rushing yards for two total touchdowns while Richardson made the most of his two grabs for a pair of Indian scores.
Salik’s performance, combined with a second-half bowing of the neck from the Indian defense, helped to tie the all-time record in the Battle of 287 between Ennis and Waxahachie at 47-47-2. The win was also the 600th in program history for the Tribe.
According to TexasHighSchoolFootballHistory.com, the Indians are now the 43rd program in the state to reach the 600-win plateau. Countless hours of research by Waxahachie ISD Athletic Operations Director Terry Minton shows the Indians to have an all-time record of 600-469-36.
The 14-point win Friday, Sept. 15 at Stuart B. Lumpkins Stadium in Waxahachie was also the 80th meeting between the two teams over the last 79-consecutive years dating back to 1939. Waxahachie and Ennis played twice against each other in the fall of 2004 — once in the regular season and again in the area round of the 4A playoffs at the Gopher-Warrior Bowl in Grand Prairie.
The Indians improved to 2-1 on the season with the win, while the Lions fell to 0-3.
Mark Warde, of The Ennis News, reports the last time Ennis began a season 0-3 was during the second year of hall-of-fame head coach Sam Harrell’s tenure — some 22 years ago.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After the opening kickoff, Salik was wrapped up on the Indian three-yard line when he heaved up an interception on his first pass attempt to put the Lions inside the Waxahachie 30-yard line. The Indian defense then stripped James Harris on his first carry from scrimmage and Caleb High returned the football to the Indian 36-yard line.
The end result of the three-play head spinner was just another average 18-yard gain for the Indians. However, Waxahachie was forced to punt after picking up a first down on a 19-yard pitch-and-catch from Salik to Tevin Wofford.
Not long after, Kyrie Holloway walked into the end zone nearly untouched for a 10-yard touchdown to cap a five-play, 69-yard drive for the Lions. Trevor Oakley split the uprights for the 7-0 Lion lead with 7:50 to play in the first quarter.
Oakley then overran the ensuing onside kick attempt to give the Indian offense the football inside Lion territory.
Salik and company took advantage of the short field — a recurring theme throughout the evening. The senior signal caller found Jeffrey Alexander on an out route for a first down to the Lion 2-yard line and then followed with a short touchdown on a quarterback keeper behind his right guard.
Ennis needed just four plays to respond.
Tycen Thompson beat the second-level of the Indian defense to the right pylon for a 7-yard touchdown and 14-7 Ennis lead with 2:39 to play in the first quarter.
A little over two minutes later, Salik went to the air to find Demani Richardson. The junior wide receiver and highly-touted defensive back worked back to catch the pass just inside the goal line for a 33-yard touchdown with 19 ticks on the first-quarter clock.
The Raymond Kennedy extra point tied the game at 14.
Ennis fumbled the second play of the second quarter after a bad handoff exchange to set the Waxahachie offense up at its own 44-yard line
Sterns made the most of the opportunity when he caught a quick Salik pass in the right flats and outran the Ennis defensive backs for a 49-yard Indian touchdown with 10:18 on the first-half clock. The lead was the first of the evening for the Indians.
The real highlight of the second quarter, though, was a 2-yard reception by Dillon Jurick on 3rd-and-Alma for the Lions.
Jurick is the starting right guard on the Ennis offensive line. But, because Waxahachie waved the flag, the big fella recorded what is presumably his first catch as a member of the varsity football team.
After each team traded punts, Kademon Graff rolled right, set up and found Holloway on the backside of the play for a 30-yard gain to the Indian 5-yard line with a little over three minutes to play in the half. James Harris, who finished the half with nine carries for 102 yards, bruised his way to paydirt from three yards out to tie the game at 21.
The Salik and the Indian offense again found a little big-play magic on the ensuing Waxahachie possession. The quarterback bought a little time in the pocket to hit Wofford in stride down the Waxahachie sideline for a 50-yard gain to the Ennis 14-yard line.
Two plays later, Salik danced around three would-be tacklers for a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jeffrey Alexander with 1:26 to play in the half.
Salik finished the first half 12-of-19 through the air for 241 yards and three touchdowns. The interception on his first attempt was the lone turnover for the Indians in the half and on the night.
At the half, Harris led all ball carriers with his 102 yards on nine carries, while Waxahachie ran for just 24 yards on 13 carries despite outgaining the Lions 265 yards to 240.
The Waxahachie defense stiffened on the first drive of the second half to force a turnover on downs in Lion territory.
The Indian offense capitalized, yet again, on the short field when Sterns broke through the second level with the help of the push from an offensive lineman for a 15-yard touchdown. Sterns’ second score (1st rushing) came with 8:10 on the third-quarter clock.
As they had proved before, Ennis was more than capable of a quick response. Thompson capped the drive that took fewer than three minutes with a one-yard touchdown run to pull within seven, 35-28.
After all of the offensive fireworks in the first half, neither team could find the lighter in the second half.
A couple of punts and turnover on downs later and Salik again found Richardson for a short completion that resulted in a long score. Richardson outran the Lion secondary for a 47-yard touchdown. He finished the evening with two catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns in the 42-28 Waxahachie win.
Waxahachie begins District 10-5A play next week, Friday, Sept. 22 at home against Mansfield Summit. Ennis returns home to play Dallas Kimball. Both kickoffs are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.