By SCOTT TYLER
WHITEHOUSE — For Traylon Shead, the win was much more important than the record.
The Cayuga running back set the all-time state touchdown record in the Wildcats’ 38-29 win over Lovelady Friday night in the Class A-Region III, Division II semifinals.
“The touchdown record is nice, but it is even bigger that we got the win tonight,” Shead said after his 320-yard, three touchdown performance.
His three touchdowns gave Shead 137 career touchdowns — one more than Jazquizz Rodgers’ record 136.
“What a special night for Traylon,” Cayuga head coach Tommy Allison said. “This is just icing on the cake.”
Cayuga (11-1) advances to play Mart in the Class A-Region III, Division II state quarterfinals. Mart defeated Tenaha 25-22 Friday night. The game will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Corsicana.
In Whitehouse, Shead and quarterback Malcome Kennedy spearheaded a running attack that accumulated 603 rushing yards. Kennedy rushed for 220 yards and three touchdowns and the backfield duo had all but 82 of Cayuga’s total yards.
“Our offensive line and the guys on the edged just did a great job blocking all night,” Allison said. “Then Traylon and Malcome ran with heart and desire.”
Cayuga led early but Lovelady, who was undefeated coming into Friday night, were not going to go away quietly.
An interception by Jordy Denson to start the second half put the Lions on the Cayuga 29-yard line. Four plays later and Christian Harris scored on a 6-yard run as the Lions cut the lead to 25-22.
On Cayuga’s ensuing possession, the Wildcats faced a third and eight when the ball went to an unlikely candidate. Chance Caldwell took a reverse and with the defense flowing the other way to stop Kennedy and Shead, Caldwell reached the edge and got much more than just the first down. The Cayuga wide receiver raced down the sideline getting to the Lovelady 4 for a 63-yard run.
“It is something we have practiced for three weeks and have not seen the right place to use it until tonight,” Allison said. “Our coaching staff did a great job seeing something in their defense and we got great blocking on the outside and Caldwell did a wonderful job.”
Lovelady tried to make the goalline stand, stopping Cayuga on three plays, but Shead was too much, going over the top for the 1-yard touchdown which gave him the record and the Wildcats a 31-22 lead.
Lovelady would not quit as the Lions moved the ball back down the field and a 15-yard run by Denson got the ball to the Cayuga 4. Harris did the rest and the Lions cut the lead to two points, 31-29 with 9:19 to play in the game.
Cayuga made quick work of rebuilding the lead. On the first play from scrimmage, Kennedy on a keeper, got through the middle, down the left side and outran the Lovelady defense for a 72-yard touchdown and a 38-29 lead.
“We had chances to quit when they came back but we responded with big plays,” Allison said.
The rest of the big plays belonged to the defense, which squashed any comeback hopes.
Chris Turner intercepted a Denson pass and the Cayuga offense ran more than four minutes of the clock before giving the ball back on downs. With 2:53 left to play, it was Kennedy who picked off another Denson pass to seal the win.
“We have been fortunate to get turnovers this year and our defense came up huge at the end,” Allison said. “They are a very good offensive team, so to hold them to 29 points is pretty good.”
The first quarter belonged to Cayuga as the Wildcats put together a 15-play, eight-minute drive, resulting in a Kennedy 31-yard touchdown run for a 6-0 lead.
Cayuga scored on all four of its first half possessions including a 47-yard run by Shead and a 16-yard run by Kennedy to take an 18-7 lead with 4:03 left.
With under two minutes left, Cayuga found itself on its own 7-yard line when Shead took the handoff on the counter, got two big blocks from his receivers on the outside and went down the sideline for a 93-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats a 25-7 lead.
But there was enough time on the clock for Lovelady, who was aided by a personal foul penalty against Cayuga to move the ball down the field and Denson found Taylor Therwhanger for an 11-yard touchdown to make the game 25-14 going into the half.
Cayuga (11-1) 6 19 6 7 38
Lovelady (12-1) 0 14 8 7 29
CAYUGA — Malcome Kennedy 31 run (kick fail)
CAYUGA — Traylon Shead 47 run (run fail)
LOVELADY — Tre Sherman 24 eun (Rubi Antonio kick)
CAYUGA — Kennedy 16 run (kick fail)
CAYUGA — Shead 93 run (Melvin Shead kick)
LOVELADY — Taylor Thewhanger 11 pass from Jordy Denson (Antonio kick)
LOVELADY — Christian Harris 6 run (Antonio kick)
CAYUGA — Traylon Shead 1 run (kick fail)
LOVELADY — Harris 1 run (Antonio kick)
CAYUGA — Kennedy 72 run (Melvin Shead kick)
First Downs 23 10
Rushes-Yards 55-603 24-195
Passing Yards 19 24
Total Yards 622 219
Comp-Att-Int 3-6-1 2-10-2
Punts-Avg 0 3-46
Fumbles-Lost 0 2-0
Penalties-Yards 8-83 5-55
Rushing — Cayuga: T. Shead, 31-320; Kennedy, 23-220; Chance Caldwell, 1-63. Lovelady: Denson, 13-86; Harris, 7-54; Sherman, 3-29; Case Gunnels, 4-26.
Passing — Cayuga: Kennedy, 3-6-1-19. Lovelady: Denson, 2-10-2-24.
Receiving — Cayuga: Billy Duncan, 3-19. Lovelady: Sherman, 1-13; Therwhanger, 1-11.