Following a 48-22 loss to begin the season, Florence coach Paul Smith had little to say.
He knew his team had just been whipped. Nor had it given the performance he had expected.
Two weeks later, the Buffaloes are looking like a playoff team — exactly what Smith thought he had when the season began.
Florence (2-1) has beaten Thrall (20-0) and Thorndale (20-13) in back-to-back weeks and the biggest turnaround has been the defensive effort.
The defense held Thorndale scoreless in the fourth quarter, as the offense finally found its stride, scoring the game’s last 13 points. JoJo Ramirez scored on a 15-yard pass from Kaleb Hardy, who completed 20 of 39 of his passes for 200 yards. And then Matthew Mellette scored from 15 yards out on his only rush of the game to give Florence the lead.
“The big thing is personnel. We added a couple of kids back and moved some people around,” Smith said.
“When you add speed to defense it helps a lot. Our kids were physical, very physical, and they played to the last second and stood up and made a difference.
“They have bought in and they believe, and we have a chance and that is all you can ask for.”
Florence added Jimmy Struble and Clay Navarette to its defensive backfield, allowing Alex Ramirez,who led the Buffaloes with 16 tackles and two sacks, to move up to linebacker and Jovanee Daniel-Martenson, who had 10 tackles, to the defensive line. Florence forced three turnovers, while not turning the ball over offensively, with both Mason Lansford and Shane Schober recovering fumbles and Struble getting a key interception.
“They are playing like they are capable now,” Smith said. “We still have some kinks to iron out offensively and we have not hit our groove yet.”
Hornets hold their ground
For the second time in three games, Gatesville did not allow its opponent to reach double-digit points.
After opening the season with a 41-9 win at Waco Reicher, the Hornets repeated the feat Friday in a 24-8 home victory against Waco Connally, and they came within 128 seconds of producing a shutout.
Thanks in part to thwarting five fourth-down conversion attempts, including two in the red zone, Gatesville prevented the Cadets from scoring for a majority of the contest until giving up a 67-yard touchdown run with 2:08 remaining.
Excluding Connally quarterback Kristian Brown’s scoring scamper, the Cadets finished with just 131 rushing yards to continue Gatesville’s streak of strong showings against the run.
The Hornets have held opponents under 200 rushing yards in all three games this season, highlighted by the season opener, when they allowed Reicher to gain just 33 rushing yards on 29 carries.
Eagles D showing slight improvement
For the second straight week, the Salado defense allowed an opponent to score more than 40 points.
And, after China Spring rolled the Eagles 42-7 on Friday, the Eagles are being outscored a combined 85-13 in back-to-back blowouts.
Through three games, opponents have racked up 1,370 yards of total offense, for an average of more than 456 yards per game.
But despite another rough outing, Salado’s defense showed improvement, allowing 324 total yards after surrendering more than 500 yards of total offense in each of the first two weeks.
If the Eagles are going to turn things around when they return from their bye week, it’s going to be because of continued improvement on defense.
By the Numbers
- 353 — Yards Lorena quarterback Harris Coleman was responsible for against Lampasas. Coleman ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 251 yards and a score to help beat the Badgers 30-12.
- 11 — Catches by Struble in his debut performance for Florence in its 20-13 win over Thorndale.
- 43 — Distance of Sebastian Corrales’ fourth quarter field goal for Gatesville in a 24-8 win over the Cadets. The senior kicker has only missed one kick all season — a 47-yard attempt earlier in the game against Connally.
- 346 — Average rushing yards Salado is allowing opposing teams to rack up through three games, including 207 on 24 carries for China Spring last Friday for an 8.625 yards-per-carry average.
- Fredericksburg (2-1) at Lampasas (1-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday — The Badgers look to rebound from a 30-12 loss at Lorena against a Billies team that is rolling offensively, averaging 44.5 points in consecutive wins.
- Gatesville (3-0) at Taylor (1-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday — The Hornets are undefeated through three games for the first time since 2005 and have a good opportunity to extend the streak against the Ducks, who have allowed 73 points in their two losses this season.
Contact Nick Talbot at email@example.com or (254) 501-7569
Alex Byington and Clay Whittington contributed to this report.