SALADO — Chase Crenwelge prepared himself for the cold front that hit Central Texas on Friday night.
He brought a long-sleeve shirt to the game, but by kickoff had decided not to wear it.
“It was a bit chilly, but my blood was pumping so I said, ‘I’m warm now so forget it’,” said the junior running back.
He may have been warm, but Crenwelge scorched Little River-Academy’s Bumblebees, rushing for 187 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries as the Eagles won 28-7.
His most important carry came during the game’s second quarter.
Academy (2-6, 0-5 13-2A, Div. I) drove to the Eagles 20-yard line but missed a 37-yard field goal attempt. On the first play of Salado’s ensuing drive, Crenwelge took the handoff from quarterback Ryan Simmons and cut to his right, 80 yard later he crossed the goal line to give the Eagles (2-6, 2-3) a two-score lead.
“I got a hole I could drive a truck through and got up field,” Crenwelge said. “I had one cut and I got some great downfield blocking by Marshall Mann and I had lots of green grass in front of me.”
Simmons added: “Chase made a great run. The line made a big hole and he made people miss.”
Simmons combined for 126 yards and scored three touchdowns of his own, two of which came in the fourth quarter to end any hopes of a Bumblebees comeback. All three scores came on option plays.
“Academy followed the running back and I got great blocking from the line,” he said. “It wasn’t the prettiest game, but we were able to come through and put a few drives together and our defense got some great stops.”
The Eagles were able to overcome bad plays, missed opportunities and some mental lapses.
“I told the kids that we had to execute better. We didn’t change much,” said Salado coach Glenn Talbott. “We just had to play better — tackle better and run harder.”
Simmons explained that the Eagles' offensive coordinator gave the team, most notably the offense, the boost they needed to overcome the mistakes.
“Coach Sul Ross came in at halftime and said that we can’t have any excuses — if the person next to you is working hard you can’t make an excuse when you do something wrong,” Simmons said. “That got everyone’s attention and reminded us that we had to do our jobs for us to win.”
Salado ran for 290 yards as a team and had three second-half drives that lasted nine plays or more, which allowed them to dominate the pace of the game and leaving Academy with little else to do but try to pass.
The Bees weren’t able to accomplish that.
Sophomore quarterback Caleb Hill completed just 7 of 18 passes for 75 yards.
Academy’s top two running backs, Alex McCullough and David Shine, combined for 119 yards on 18 carries, but neither crossed the goal line. The only Bees score came in the second quarter from Jose Giral on a 1-yard touchdown.
Salado’s defense only allowed Academy to get into the red zone on three occasions and gave up the one score.
“Best game the defense had all year,” Crenwelge said. “It takes a lot of pressure off the offense when the other team doesn’t score — they had a great game. Hopefully we can get on a roll and keep doing this game after game.”