Committing three turnovers in the first quarter usually leads to a loss. But the Calallen Wildcats not only overcame it, they dominated the Tuloso-Midway Warriors 41-3 Friday night.
The first four plays for Calallen were uncharacteristic for a team that is ranked No.3 in the state.
On the first play of the opening drive, Wildcat quarterback Jeramie Marek threw an interception to Tuloso-Midway's Kevin Sorrows.
That led the Warriors to score a field goal, giving them an early 3-0 lead.
"Kris [Guerrero] and Alan [Ford] were picking me up after I threw that interception," Marek said. "The whole team let me know that there was a lot more game to play after that first quarter."
On Calallen's next possession, receiver and tailback Matthew Garza ran for at least 20 yards before fumbling the ball, which was recovered by Tuloso-Midway.
With the score still 3-0, the Wildcats were on their fourth drive of the game when tailback Bryden McClure mishandled the pitch and the Warriors recovered their second fumble.
At the end of the first quarter, Tuloso-Midway still had a 3-0 lead.
"I can't explain what happened out there in the first quarter," said Calallen head coach Phil Danaher. "We've got to start executing four quarters and start playing four quarters. We just haven't done that and that concerns me."
The Wildcats recovered in a big way in the second quarter as backup quarterback Dustin Vaughan took over for Calallen.
A slow but consistent drive in the second quarter led Calallen to the Warrior 37-yard line.
On fourth-and-two, the Wildcats faked a punt as Marek pitched the ball to Collin Simpson for a 7-yard rush, giving Calallen the first down.
At the Tuloso-Midway 4-yard line, running back and newly crowned homecoming king Oliver Price broke into the end zone for a touchdown as the Wildcats took the lead, 7-3.
The Warrior offense had troubles on its next possession. On third-and-five, quarterback Matt Willoughby was sacked by Calallen's Alan Ford for a 14-yard loss, putting Tuloso-Midway in a punting situation on fourth-and 19.
After a bad snap, the ball got away from punter Isidro Ruiz. Wildcat linebacker Kris Guerrero recovered the ball as the Wildcats began their next drive at the Warrior 26-yard line.
Without wasting any time, Vaughan threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kenneth Rosas, giving Calallen a 15-3 lead after converting the two-point attempt.
With time running out in the first half, Tuloso-Midway went for a desperate 47-yard field goal before halftime, but the ball was well short of the goal post.
The second half was all Calallen.
After the Warriors failed to convert a first down on their opening drive, Calallen took control.
Later on the drive, the Wildcats were at Tuloso-Midway's 22-yard line when Marek found a wide-open Rosas for a touchdown pass that increased Calallen's lead to 21-3.
After Vaughan threw an interception on the Wildcats' next drive, the Warriors' Willoughby threw an interception to Marek, giving Calallen the ball back.
On fourth-and nine at the Tuloso-Midway 16-yard line, the Wildcats pulled a nice trick play as Marek threw a forward pitch to Vaughan who found a clear path to the end zone.
"I was excited to make it to the end zone," Vaughan said. "The blockers made sure I was untouched."
Calallen was well ahead, 28-3, at the end of the third quarter.
The Wildcats went on to score two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a second touchdown pass from Marek who finished the night with 119 yards passing, with three touchdowns and an interception.
Vaughan also finished with over 100 yards passing and a touchdown pass.
Calallen closes out its regular season against the H.M. King Brahmas Friday night at 7:30 at Javelina Stadium in Kingsville, shooting for a 10-0 season for the second year in a row. Calallen's last back-to-back 10-0 seasons were in 1996 and 1997.