IOWA COLONY - While things seemed to get a little too interesting for the Shadow Creek Sharks late Friday night, Brad Butler’s squad wasted little time regrouping from Strake Jesuit’s furious fourth quarter charge and ultimately came up with a 35-20 triumph at AISD Freedom Field.
The victory was the fourth straight for the Sharks (4-2 overall), who also improved to 3-0 to stay in a first place tie with Pearland in the 23-6A Football standings.
Shadow Creek, who led the whole way, held a seemingly comfortable 28-6 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the contest. However, the Crusaders rallied for back-to-back touchdowns with quarterback Bryce Fucik going in from 5 yards out and then hitting Chico Holt with a 53-yard scoring toss to suddenly to make it a 28-20 affair with 6:53 left.
The Sharks finally put Strake Jesuit away when junior signal caller Duke Butler lofted a perfect 43-yard TD strike to Felix Buchanan on the ensuing series.
“We started quick and then went into a little lull there,” Sharks’ head coach Brad Butler said following the game. “Every time I thought we would get a little breathing room, they (Strake Jesuit) would keep battling back. We got a lot of things to work on, but I’m proud of our kids.
“Our mission here tonight was to be 3-0 when the night was over and I feel fortunate that we are. We just got to continue to improve.”
The Sharks opened the contest like they were going to blow the Crusaders off the Freedom Field turf. After forcing a three-and-out on the game’s opening series, Shadow Creek promptly marched 56 yards in six plays for the game’s first points.
Duke Butler scooted 10 yards on a keeper, while Buchanan provided a 19-yard burst deep inside Strake territory to help pave the way for Butler hitting Caleb Washington with a 21-yard scoring strike with 8:06 left in the first.
Butler completed 13 of 23 passes for 196 yards and four TD’s
Matt Allison booted the extra point through the uprights for a 7-0 Shadow Creek lead.
Linebacker Robert Luddington delivered a clutch third down sack on Fucik to force another Crusaders’ punt, while the Sharks took only four plays to pad their lead to two scores after a short Strake punt traveled just 19 yards to their own 28.
Butler capped the drive by nailing Jo`Qwan West with a 9-yard TD fling in the end zone to make it 14-0 with 4:52 still left in the first.
The Crusaders had their chances to cut the margin during the first half, but were stopped twice on downs by the SC defense inside the Sharks’ 30-yard line.
Despite Shadow Creek also missing a scoring opportunity with Allison barely misfiring on a 37-yard field goal attempt, the Sharks opened the third quarter by driving 70 yards in eight plays.
Butler hooked up with Lawrence Armstrong (16 yards) and West (14 yards) for key first down gains, while a roughing-the passer penalty by the Crusaders also played a big part in Buchanan going the final 3 yards to increase Shadow Creek’s lead to 21-0 with 9:38 left.
Strake Jesuit finally got on the board on Fucik’s first 5-yard keeper into the end zone on the ensuing series, but the Sharks appeared to have the contest wrapped up early in the fourth, as West made a 15-yard leaping grab in the end zone for a 28-6 Shadow Creek advantage.
However, a 35-yard double reverse flea flicker pass from Leland Smith to Holden Maples set the stage for the Fucik’s second TD run and his long TD toss to Holt to pull the Crusaders within a TD and a two-point conversion of evening the issue.
Butler dashed 24 yards on a keeper to spark the Sharks on the first play following the next kickoff, though, and then found a wide open Buchanan from 43 yards out three plays later with 4:34 remaining to finally put the game out of reach.
“That was a big play that we needed to respond,” Brad Butler said. “The momentum swung a couple of times in the game. That was a big play to help reassert ourselves.”
The Sharks next play Alvin at AISD Memorial Stadium, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m