The Connally Cadets needed a victory to guarantee their trip to the playoffs as they hosted Robinson in the final game of the regular season.
So it’s no surprise that Connally put the ball in the hands of one of Central Texas’ best running backs to get there. Cadets junior Jay’Veon Sunday came through as he powered his way to 231 rushing yards in the first half, fueling Connally’s 39-14 win over the Rockets on Friday night at Mac Peoples Stadium.
Sunday needed just a half to make it a record-breaking evening as he surpassed 2,000 yards for the season. He rolls into the playoffs with 2,052 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns.
Sunday scored on runs of 6, 19 and 43 yards before halftime as he helped Connally surge to a 39-0 lead over Robinson by the break.
“(Sunday is) a special, special kid,” Cadets coach Shane Anderson said. “He’s grown up a lot this year. He’s getting a lot of exposure and a lot of opportunities. He’s one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever been around. The great thing is he’s 16 years old and we get him back here one more year.”
The Cadets (7-3, 4-2 in District 8-4A Division 2) will play Bullard in bi-district action on Thursday. The game is set for Ennis at 7 p.m.
Although Robinson couldn’t slow down Sunday on Friday night, the Rockets’ season will continue next week as well. Robinson (5-5, 3-3) did enough work in the first nine weeks to clinch a playoff berth going into the regular-season finale. The Rockets will play Rusk on Friday at Conroe’s Moorhead Stadium.
Connally, which has had a habit of starting slow at times this season, ignited in the first quarter behind Sunday.
He rushed for 45 yards on 8 carries during the Cadets’ first scoring march of the contest. Sunday converted a fourth-and-four from the Robinson 6 by taking the rock into the end zone. A two-point run boosted Connally to an 8-0 lead with 2:03 left in the first quarter.
The Cadets found the running plays Sunday liked in the second quarter and he blasted off for 164 yards in the period.
Sunday came into the regular-season finale needing 179 rushing yards to reach 2,000. His 43-yard romp up the middle for a touchdown with 5:31 left before halftime got him there and put the Cadets in command with a 24-0 lead.
“That’s a heck of a year,” Anderson said. “It’s a tribute to our offensive line. Coach (Tyler) Miller, offensive line coach, has come in and done a great job with these guys. We’ve got three sophomores on our offensive line and they’ve done a great job of getting better and better.”
The Cadets defense did their part in paving the way to a commanding lead at the break. Connally held Robinson to 95 yards of offense in the first and second quarters. The Cadets also recovered a fumble, Korie Black intercepted a pass and the Connally defense made two fourth-down stops.
Connally finished the first half with a pair of touchdown passes. Quarterback Gaylon Glynn threw a 35-yarder to Je’Juan Forward, and Kavian Gaither took a reverse handoff and then tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Glynn for the final score of the first half.
The Cadets posted 333 yards of total offense before the break.