The weather was hot, and so was the St. James High School football team's offense.
The Tigers opened the 2013 season by totaling 316 yards of offense and went on to whip the Cuba Wildcats 49-22 in non-conference action Friday at the St. James High football field.
It was all St. James, which scored on seven of its 11 offensive possessions.
"It's always good to get that first win," said Tiger head coach Greg Harlan. "Coming into the game we knew we were fairly young and our kids were able to overcome a few mistakes. Cuba was fighting to the end but our kids were able to capitalize on some things."
St. James struck first, as Tiger senior running back Jesse Hays broke away on a 47-yard TD run. Junior Derek Hale then added the first of his seven extra-point kicks.
However, the Wildcats came right back to take the lead, as junior quarterback Nick Lemons broke off his own long run, sprinting 61 yards for the touchdown. Lemons then hit junior running back Jeff Wagner with a two-point conversion pass to take a 8-7 lead with 5:57 left in the first period.
Three unanswered touchdowns put St. James in control for good. Junior running back Garrett Ubben scored on a three-yard TD run at the with 3:57 left in the first period and the Tigers led the rest of the way.
Hays ended the following St. James drive with a nine-yard TD run. And sophomore quarterback Brett Karnes finished the first-half scoring with an 11-yard Tiger TD run. It was 28-8 at halftime.
Cuba closed the gap early in the third period, as Lemons scored on a three-yard run. The conversion failed.
Ubben scored another TD on a one-yard run at the 6:22 mark of the third period.
Lemons countered with his third touchdown of the game, on another three-yard run. And on a shuttle pass Lemons hit sophomore Dayton Killeen for the two-point conversion.
Ubben scored his third TD on a two-yard run early in the fourth period and St. James ended its scoring when Karnes hit senior wideout Jamal Sconiers with a 16-yard scoring pass.
"I felt like we did some things right," Harlan said. "There is room for improvement; we've got to do things more consistently. And that just comes from experience.
"Jesse Hays played very well. He ran the ball hard and has a good understanding of the game. Players look to him as a calming influence.
Defensively (junior linebacker Cameron) Orlando was around the football a lot and was making plays that were making a difference."
Hays rushed for 123 yards on 22 carries for the Tigers, who rushed for 207 yards as a team. Karnes hit on 6-of-15 passes for 111 yards and an interception. Sconiers caught three passes for 68 yards.
Page 2 of 2 - Linebackers Orlando and Ubben each made seven solo tackles and four assists.
The Tigers play another non-conference game this Friday at Houston, starting at 7 p.m.
The score by periods:
St. James 14 14 7 14-49
Cuba 8 0 14 0-22
The scoring plays:
St. James: Hays 47-yard run, Hale kick (11:11).
Cuba: Lemons 61-yard run, Lemons passes to Wagner for conversion (5:57).
St. James: Ubben 3-yard run, Hale kick (3:57).
St. James: Hays 9-yard run, Hale kick (8:20).
St. James: Karnes 11-yard run, Hale kick (2:49).
Cuba: Lemons 3-yard run, conversion fails (8:43).
St. James: Ubben 1-yard run, Hale kick (6:22).
Cuba: Lemons 3-yard run, Lemons passes to Killeen for conversion (2:28).
St. James: Ubben 2-yard run, Hale kick (10:39).
St. James: Sconiers 16-yard pass from Karnes, Hale kick (5:55).
St. James Leaders
Rushing: Hays 22 for 123, Ubben 5 for 11, Karnes 11 for 58, Sconiers 1 for 15, Davis 1 for 0.
Passing: Karnes 6-15-111-1, Sconiers 0-1-0-0, Melton 1-2-minus-2-0.
Pass Receiving: Sconiers 3 for 68, Birkner 2 for 29, Money 1 for 14, Phillips 1 for minus-2.
Tackles: Orlando 7 (solos)-4 (assists), Ubben 7-4, Bradshaw 6-0, Hays 5-2, Money 4-0, Hale 3-0, Huffman 4-1, McCarthy 3-2.