By SCOTT TYLER
CORSICANA — Cayuga’s Tramon Shead could barely walk off the field on his own powers Friday night at the end of the Class A-Division II state quarterfinals.
That was an indication of what kind of game it was.
In a hard fought battle, the Wildcats outlasted Mart 42-28 to advance for the second straight year to the state semifinals.
“This is just a big win for our school and our program,” Cayuga head coach Tommy Allison said. “Mart is a very good football team and we knew we were going to have to fight to the end.”
Cayuga (12-1) has a semifinal rematch against Ganado, who defeated Falls City 24-21 in overtime Saturday night. The game will most likely be next Saturday, but by 2 a.m. Sunday a time and place had not been set.
Cayuga (12-1) led 28-7 at halftime, but Mart (9-5) was not going to go away easy in the quarterfinals. Mart scored 14 unanswered points in the third quarter to cut the lead to 28-21 and make it come down to a battle in the fourth quarter.
“We knew they were going to make a run at us,” Allison said. “We had some key people hurt and off the field but we found a way to hold them off,”
One of those players who was out of the game for a while was Shead, who suffered a shoulder injury in the first half and at one point had his shoulder pads off.
But in the fourth quarter, Shead came back in the game on the offensive line and defensive line.
“Tramon coming back gave us a boost,” Allison said. “The players saw him back on the field and fought that much harder.”
After Mart cut the lead to seven points at the end of the third quarter, the Panthers attempted an onside kick. It was recovered by Cayuga, giving the Wildcats great field possession on the 50-yard line.
Five plays later, quarterback Malcome Kennedy faked the handoff to Traylon Shead and took it himself through the defense for a 32-yard touchdown. But Cayuga miss handled the extra-point snap and had to settle for a 34-21 lead.
Kennedy finished with 229 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He also had a receiving touchdown from Billy Duncan in the first quarter.
After scoring on two straight possessions, marching the ball down the field through the air, Mart was stopped on its next possession when Chris Turner intercepted a pass. Turner had two fourth-quarter interceptions which came after he got burned for a long touchdown in the first quarter.
“After giving up that first touchdowns, I knew I had to step up and make a play,” Turner said.
Cayuga had a chance to put a nail in the coffin, moving the ball down to the 6-yard line, but Mart forced and recovered a fumble.
After moving the ball out to the 29-yard line on a fourth down run, Mart quarterback Holden Strunck found Leonard Williams down the middle of the field wide open and the catch and run went for a 71-yard touchdown as the Panthers cut the lead to 34-28.
But like most of the season, the Cayuga offense responded when needed. The Wildcats took four minutes off the clock, picking up three first downs and getting a fortunate bounce when Traylon Shead had a fumble come right back to him.
The Wildcats had third and seven when Cayuga went to its jumbo package. Traylon Shead took the direct snap and went to the weak side, exposing the Mart defense. The Cayuga running back got to the corner and down the sideline for a 24-yard touchdown to give Cayuga a 42-28 lead.
“We have tendency to run to the strong side in that formation,” Allison said. “We were hoping to catch them off guard.”
Traylon Shead finished the night with 24 carries for 135 yards and two touchdowns to increase his state-leading career touchdowns mark to 139.
The Cayuga backfield duo combined for 361 of Cayuga’s 467 yards.
“We have always felt like teams can’t stop both of us,” Kennedy said.
Mart made one last push, getting a good kickoff return to Cayuga’s 38-yard line with two minutes to play. But Turner turned the Panthers away with another interception when a pass bounced off a Mart receiver’s hands and into Turner’s hands.
Mart had one more chance with 44 seconds left from the Cayuga 20-yard line. But after getting to the 6-yard line, Cayuga stopped the Panthers on four straight plays, finishing off with a Melvin Shead sack to put an end to the game.
Notes: Duncan’s 20-yard touchdown pas to Kennedy in the first quarter came on fourth and 10. Duncan missed most of the second half due to an injury. ...Shak Jenkins had an interception and a key 47-yard reception in the second quarter that set up Cayuga’s third touchdown. Only seven penalties for 64 yards were called on both teams.
CAYUGA (12-1) 7 21 0 14 42
MART (9-5) 7 0 14 7 28
CAYUGA — Malcome Kennedy 20 pass from Billy Duncan (Melvin Shead kick)
MART — Zach Matthus 65 pass from Holden Strunk (Matthew Shaeffer kick)
CAYUGA — Malcome Kennedy 5 run (kick fail)
CAYUGA — Traylon Shead 2 run (T. Shead run)
MART — Strunk 3 run (Shaeffer kick)
MART — Matthus 24 pass from Strunk (Shaeffer kick)
CAYUGA — Kennedy 32 run (kick fail)
MART — Leonard Williams 71 pass from Strunk (Shaeffer kick)
CAYUGA — Shead 24 run (T. Shead run)
First Downs 21 17
Rushes-Yards 50-361 25-82
Passing Yards 102 299
Total Yards 463 381
Comp-Att-Int 4-9-0 16-30-3
Punts-Avg 3-37.7 3-42.7
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 4-1
Penalties-Yards 4-29 3-35
Rushing — Cayuga: Kennedy, 26-229; Shead 24-135. Mart: Strunck, 16-49; Williams, 2-22; Jakeem Hoffman, 7-11
Passing — Cayuga: Kennedy, 3-7-0-86; Duncan, 1-2-0-20. Mart: Strunck, 16-30-3-299.
Receiving — Cayuga: Shak Jenkins, 2-51; Duncan, 1-35; Kennedy, 1-20. Mart: WIlliams, 6-131; Matthys, 3-102; Jonathan Tawney, 3-37; Hoffman, 3-18; Brandon Williams, 1-14.