Defense plays prominent role in victory
Nothing is quite as dangerous as a football team seeking its first win, especially in front of a homecoming crowd. This became apparent as the winless Eagles hosted 1-4 Buffaloes Oct. 11.
Regardless of the numerous penalties against the Eagles or the Buffalo offense cutting Salado's lead in the second half; The Eagles still maintained their focus and defeated Florence, 34-12.
The Eagles scored early, and they scored often. Junior quarterback McLane Carter (19 completions for 346 yards and 2 touchdowns) was able to keep the Florence defense off balance, but what was unexpected was the smash-mouth nature of the Eagles' running game, spearheaded by senior Ryan Simmons. Simmons who had a breakout game with 17 carries for 128 yards and 3 touchdowns (an average of 7.5 yards per carry).
Whenever the Florence defense was able to guard Carter's favorite target, senior receiver Kase Spears (7 receptions for 114 yards and 1 touchdown), Simmons would power through the middle of Florence's defense and keep offensive possessions alive. Salado head coach, Brent Graham, stated, “Ryan's a warrior. You can tell he is a student of the game, and it helps us tremendously," said Eagle head coach Brent Graham. "It almost feels like you're playing with twelve people on the field because of his leadership capability.” Simmons scored his first touchdown of the night on an 8 yard run halfway through the 1st quarter, and it he never let up on the throttle.
Despite their offensive performance, Salado kept finding a way to shoot themselves in the foot by committing costly penalties, six in the first half alone for 70 yards. This not only cost the Eagles yardage but scoring opportunities, as a 28 yard touchdown pass from Carter to Senior receiver Davis Little would be negated due to a holding call.
However, Coach Graham and the Eagles overcame these difficulties and kept the offense rolling. Pivotal plays such as the 52 yard reception by senior receiver Caden Eary halfway through the 3rd quarter and the 30 yard reception by Davis Little three minutes into the 4th quarter sparked the Salado offense in the second half.
As the Eagles' offense cut through the Florence defense, the Salado defensive line really stole the show. Anchored by Peyton Womack, James Robison, James Collins and Jace Robison, the defensive line found themselves in the Florence backfield numerous times throughout The night. Accounting for 21 tackles, these four defensive linemen were able to disrupt the Florence offense throughout the game. This defensive performance was capped off with a fumble by Florence running back Lendell Freeman halfway through the fourth quarter, which led to another Salado touchdown.
The offensive line has got to come off the ball, Florence head coach Paul Smith said. "If they do that, we will be successful and if not, then we won't. They [Salado's defensive line] won the line of scrimmage quite a bit.”
Coach Graham was pleased about their performance, “Our defense gave our offense an opportunity. They re-established the line of scrimmage and they did a great job getting tackles for a loss. And we're really proud of how those guys performed in the trenches.”
The Eagles will face the Troy Trojans on Friday October 18th at home, kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m.