TEMPLE — Temple’s season opener and first game as a Class 6A member got off to a dreadful start night.
The Wildcats failed to field the opening kickoff and Round Rock Cedar Ridge recovered the football at Temple’s 30-yard line, then Jalen Brown threw a touchdown pass to Deuce Vaughn on the Raiders’ first play.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, it most certainly was not a sign of things to come.
Temple answered right back on its first offensive snap with Jared Wiley’s 55-yard touchdown strike to Quentin Johnston, which most certainly was a harbinger of future success.
Wiley and Johnston torched Cedar Ridge’s defense by connecting for aerial touchdowns of 55, 55, 29 and 71 yards, Wiley sprinted for a 42-yard score, Anthony Jackson jetted for a 78-yard TD and Temple’s defense dominated the second half as the Wildcats cruised a 45-25 victory over the Raiders at Wildcat Stadium.
“(Cedar Ridge) is a very good team, but we got a little momentum and made a couple of plays and we were able to ride the momentum. I’m proud of that,” said Temple third-year coach Scott Stewart, whose up-from-5A Wildcats defeated Cedar Ridge for the first time after losing 28-14 at home in 2016 and falling 21-14 on the road last year.
“That is not a very good way to start a game, but that’s a textbook way to react to not starting a game (well). I’m very proud of how our defense responded.”
Johnston, a speedy, 6-foot-4 junior, scored four touchdowns in Temple’s scrimmage against College Station and matched that production in highlight-reel fashion against Cedar Ridge, a 6A Division I state semifinalist last year. He made five catches for 223 yards as the Texas-committed Wiley went 8-of-16 for 242 yards and the four TD hookups with Johnston.
“He’ll be unreal in the next two years,” Wiley said of Johnston.
“It’s obviously a huge win for us,” Johnston said. “It’s amazing. From the time the seniors left last year until now, we’ve just been building, building, building. Every week it’s been work.”
Jackson ran for 130 yards on only four carries as Temple racked up 282 ground yards on 30 attempts, giving the Wildcats 524 total yards on just 46 snaps.
“This feels good,” Wiley said. “We’re making good strides.”
Wiley and Johnston said that after Cedar Ridge struck first on the botched kickoff and ensuing TD pass from Brown (174 yards passing) to Vaughn (168 yards rushing), offensive assistant coach Craig Martin told them that Temple was about to come right back with a touchdown.
Martin was right. Cedar Ridge somehow failed to cover Johnston on the left side, and he easily caught Wiley’s pass and dashed in for the first of his two 55-yard TDs. Temple sophomore Aaron Wagaman made all six extra-point kicks and a 30-yard field goal.
The 6-6, 230-pound Wiley displayed his mobility when he made a Raiders defender miss on a well-blocked 42-yard scoring scamper for a 14-6 Temple lead midway through the first quarter.
Cedar Ridge regained the lead at 18-17 midway through the second period thanks to Brown’s 4- and 15-yard touchdown passes to Colby Schoenrock and Ethan Moron, respectively.
But Johnston had an answer. A minute before halftime, he caught Wiley’s short pass to the left and blazed past four Raiders for another 55-yard TD and a 24-18 halftime advantage.
Temple poured it on in the third, as Wiley fired a strike to Johnston for a 29-yard touchdown after Cedar Ridge failed to field the second-half kickoff. Jackson dashed off left tackle en route to a 78-yard scoring jaunt. The clincher was another short Wiley pass that Johnston converted into a 71-yard TD burst along the left sideline.