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Botched snaps, penalties sink Sharks in season opener

SABINE PASS — With no power in the entire community due to damage from Hurricane Delta, the Sabine Pass Sharks were not able to provide a spark, losing 14-6 to the Burkeville Mustangs at Shark Stadium on Monday.

A 30-yard pass from Jaiquies Lewis to Luke Crorey late in the fourth quarter set up the Mustangs (1-2, 1-0 in District 12-2A Division II) for a go-ahead touchdown run from 4 yards out. The pass was the third such attempt by Burkeville and the only successful one.

The electricity was out in the stadium, leaving many spectators in the dark on how much time was left in each quarter on an otherwise sunny afternoon.

The Sabine Pass scoreboard was not functional during Monday’s season opener against Burkeville. (I.C. Murrell/The News) 10-12-20

The Sharks (0-1, 0-1 in 12-2A-II) took the lead in the third quarter after Burkeville fumbled near midfield. After a 30-yard run by senior Ahmad Lorthridge, fellow senior Jeann Zuniga took a sweep 21 yards for the score.

The Sharks defense held strong for most of the game. On a busted defenisve play, Zuniga tracked down the Mustangs runner and prevented a score inside the Sharks’ 10-yard line. The rest of the defense would not let his efforts go to waste, putting together a goal-line stand.

That was the first of three goal-line stands for the Sharks on Monday.

Zuniga also recorded the game’s only interception on a ball that was lobbed down the middle of the field.

Mental mistakes were ultimately the difference, with the Sharks botching 12 snaps and recording eight procedural penalties.

“We knew we were going to make some mistakes,” Sharks head coach Jason Thibodeaux said. “We shot ourselves in the foot on some big plays by not lining up correctly and having false starts. That is what you work out in your preseason before you get to district. We hoped it wouldn’t happen, but we knew it was going to happen.”

The game was the first of the season for the Sharks, who did not have enough players on the roster until the end of last month.


The game changed when …

In a barn burner, the late 30-yard pass by the Mustangs to put the ball inside the Sharks 5-yard line all but sealed the game. The Sharks did not have a fourth goal-line stand in them. Sabine Pass got the ball back with enough time to only run two plays.


The game ball goes to…

The Sharks’ do-it-all man Zuniga, who recorded a 20-yard touchdown on a sweep, an interception, a touchdown-saving tackle and a 50-yard punt with defenders breathing down his neck after a botched snap.


Other stats …

The Sharks’ three defensive stands stood out, but they did not overcome 12 botched snaps.


Next up …

The Sharks travel to Pirate Stadium to take on Deweyville (3-2, 1-0), which is coming off a 30-22 win over Hull-Daisetta.


About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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