CORSICANA — Connally’s Class 4A Division II playoff opponent, hoping for a quiet Sunday in trying to derail the Cadets star running back Jay’Veon Sunday, got quite a rude awaking in a 42-21 bi-district rout of Canton on Thursday.
While the uber-talented University of Washington pledge contributed three touchdowns, he rushed for less than 100 yards and spent much of the second half resting on the sidelines with a towel over his head.
So, instead it was junior quarterback Kavian Gaither who did most of the damage, throwing for two long touchdowns and rushing for another in the impressive playoff win.
The Cadets, ranked second in the state in Class 4A, improve to 11-0 and will face the winner of Friday’s game between Caddo Mills and Spring Hill in the area round. Canton finishes its year at 2-9.
Gaither came into the game with more than 2,000 yards in total offense for the year and certainly improved on that total at plush Corsicana Tiger Stadium. He accounted for runs of 52, 35 and 17 yards, then tossed touchdown passes of 61 and 32 yards to wide-open receivers, often after faking handoffs to Sunday to bait the defense.
The junior QB capped the scoring for Connally, celebrating its first unbeaten regular season in 29 years, with a 17-yard scoring burst up the middle to make the score 42-7 in the third quarter, and soon retired to the sideline.
Sunday finished the game with 82 yards rushing on 13 carries, along with touchdown runs of 6, 8 and 9 yards.
The Cadets dominated the first half, but allowed Canton to move the ball enough to motivate Connally coach Shane Anderson into several spirted talks with his team on the sideline.
The Cadets didn’t waste much time as they took the opening kickoff and moved the ball easily down the field for a 55-yard scoring drive, expertly mixing running and passing. Sunday scored the first touchdown of the game from six yards out and Ralph Morales kicked the first of his four first half extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Sunday scored the second TD for the Cadets, from eight yards out, but the scoring driving was set up by a 52-yard run by Gaither, who sprinted down the right sideline to the 10-yard-line.
Gaither took to the air for the next scoring drive as he faked a handoff up the middle to Sunday, then found a wide-open Bronsha Miles streaking down the left side of the field for the 61-yard pass, catch and run.
Canton scored its only touchdown of the first half on a 51-yard Chris Hobbs Pass to Dawson Pruitt to cut the lead to 21-7. The Eagles recovered an onside kick after the touchdown, but after marching down to the Cadets 21-yard line they were turned away on fourth down. It was one of three touchdown passes for Hobbs in the losing effort.
Connally’s final score of the first half came on the second Gaither touchdown pass when he found Kary Turner for a 32-yard score. That gave the Cadets a 28-7 lead and while Canton drove the ball down to the Connally 13, the Eagles were unable to score before halftime.
Outside the two first-quarter scores, Sunday — who came into the game with 1,773 yards in the season, was mostly held in check. Gaither took care of the explosive plays, as he had runs of 52 and 35 yards along with the two long touchdown passes in the first 24 minutes.