West Rusk Takes Care of Mineola to Open District, 42-21
NEW LONDON — It took one play for L.J. Harper to torment Mineola on defense.
He intercepted Yellowjackets quarterback Shaw Franklin.
The senior spent the rest of the night doing the same on offense. He finished with two rushing scores while also throwing a touchdown pass and intercepting a pass in a 42-21 win over Mineola Friday at Bruce Bradshaw stadium.
Harper needed seven carries to produce 84 yards, highlighted by scoring runs of 3 and 39 yards. Of his three completions, one of them was to Trevor Henson for a 24-yard score. His night could’ve been even better if not for being forced to leave midway through the fourth quarter because of an ankle injury.
Both teams entered their league opener with unblemished records, but only West Rusk (5-0) continues on that way while also beginning District 8-3A Division I with a 1-0 mark.
Mineola (3-1, 0-1) has a week to get over this first loss in preparation for a clash against another unbeaten team, Gladewater on Oct. 12. West Rusk gets the first crack at the Bears as the unbeatens square off next Friday at Jack V. Murphy Bear stadium in Gladewater.
On this Friday, it was all about the West Rusk defense and rushing attack. The Raiders did not allow Mineola to cross midfield until the 8:20 mark of the first half while forcing two turnovers to grab a 21-0 lead.
The Raiders finished with 452 yards on the ground combined, led by Tyrell Moore. The junior carried 26 times for 171 yards and two scores.
Mineola tailback Trevion Sneed and quarterback Shaw Franklin did their best to keep the Yellowjackets close. Sneed finished with 90 yards and a touchdown with Franklin completing 9 of 8 for 157 yards and a 33-yard touchdown to Cameron Bowman.
Sneed scored on a 3-yard run early in the third quarter to pull Mineola within two scores, 28-14.
West Rusk’s response was emphatic as the Raiders drove 58 yards, all on the ground, before Moore broke loose for a 30-yard touchdown.
The Yellowjackets tried to respond again, but were stopped on fourth down from the West Rusk 10, forcing a turnover on downs. Mineola never threatened again.
Harper set the tone when he intercepted Franklin on the game’s first offensive play. It set up West Rusk on the Mineola 21. The Raiders converted a fourth-and-eight on a 7-yard run by Moore. The junior tailback took his next carry around the edge for a 16-yard touchdown.
West Rusk doubled its lead early in the second quarter. Again, the Raiders overcame fourth down to do it. On fourth-and-2, Moore smashed his way up the middle for a 16-yard gain. Harper did the rest, scoring on a 3-yard keeper.
On the two-point conversion, Harper rifled a quick pass to Koure Johnson, who then forced his way through two Mineola tacklers to make it 14-0 with 10:46 left in the half.
A second Mineola turnover put West Rusk’s offense back on the field again, beginning at the Mineola 24. On first down, Harper connected with Trevor Henson for a 24-yard scoring strike. The PAT by Alexis Magallanes made it 21-0.
West Rusk continued to add to its lead, overcoming a holding penalty on first down to eventually drive 62 yards in eight plays, capped by a 39-yard touchdown keeper from Harper to increase the lead to 28-0.
Mineola responded with a 75-yard drive to get on the scoreboard. Franklin finished it off with a perfect 33-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Bowman, who outfought two West Rusk defenders to bring down the pass in the end zone to make it 28-7 at halftime.