SUNNYVALE FOOTBALL

Sunnyvale will look to bounce back from a season-opening loss to Waco Connally when it takes on Melissa this week.

Sunnyvale got off to an ideal start in its 2020 season opener on Friday.

Unfortunately for the Raiders, they had few answers for the Connally rushing duo of Kavian Gaither and Tre Wisner and that allowed the Cadets to run away for a 46-25 victory at Mac Peoples Stadium.

Sunnyvale (0-1) saw its 19-game regular season winning streak snapped in its first non-playoffs loss since 2017.

The Raider defense accounted for the first points of the season when Landry Laird intercepted a pass and took it back 50 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown just 97 seconds into the game.

Max McAda then converted the two-point conversion to give Sunnyvale a 8-0 lead.

In a sign of things to come, Connally quickly marched 75 yards, all on the ground, with Wisner finding the end zone on a 22-yard touchdown run. Gaither took care of the two-point conversion to tie it at 8-8.

The teams traded punts, but the Cadets’ attempt was a short one, putting Sunnyvale in great field position. They needed only two carries from Obi Arinze that went for 22 and seven yards to regain the advantage at 15-8.

Connally again had a swift response, with Gaither finding the end zone on a 19-yard run to knot it at 15-15 and it remained that way into the second quarter.

Sunnyvale, who used three different quarterbacks in the game, was unable to sustain a drive on its next possession and the Cadets took advantage of their opportunity to take the lead when Gaither’s 42-yard touchdown run made it 22-15.

Following a Raider punt, it was Wisner’s turn, as his 54-yard scoring run pushed the advantage to 29-15 heading into halftime.

Sunnyvale tried to hang around in the third quarter.

After Connally kicked a field goal, the Raiders matched it with a 33-yarder by Jake Pecina. After a Cadet miscue set Sunnyvale up in good position, it took advantage with a 1-yard scoring plunge by McAda to close to within 32-25.

The Raider defense made a big stop on fourth down to give them a chance to draw even, but the offense stalled and just one play later, Wisner broke free for a 49-yard touchdown run to again make it a two-score game.

Shortly after, Connally got the ball back and Wisner put it away with a 55-yard scoring run to provide the final 46-25 margin.

Sunnyvale will look to bounce back, but it will not be easy when they meet another perennial playoff team in Melissa at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Cardinal Stadium.

The Cardinals, who were 9-4 a season ago, got off to a good start to their season with a 32-20 win over rival Celina.

In that game, Melissa showed a penchant for big plays, with all five touchdowns being from 20 yards or longer.

The Cardinals returned 12 starters, but had some questions on offense. Quarterback Sam Fennigan had a nice debut, throwing a pair of touchdown passes.

Antonio Robinson was one of the team’s leading receivers last season and he picked up where he left off by starting the scoring with a touchdown grab.

Melissa also got touchdown receptions from Carlos Branch and Jack Richardson and the ground game, which graduated a bulk of its production, got long scoring runs from Ashton Mitchell-Johnson and Jaylen Williams.

The Sunnyvale defense will have its hands full and will look to bounce back from last week’s game.

Though they gave up their share of points, the Raiders did get some big performances. Max McAda recorded 19 tackles and Jake Taylor made 16 stops, while Laird also provided part of the offense with the pick-6.

For continued coverage on the local sports scene, follow Devin Hasson on Twitter: @DevinHasson

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