SALADO — Chase Crenwelge hoped he would never take a snap at quarterback this season.
A kicker by trade, Crenwelge is Salado’s emergency quarterback, and Friday night the sirens were going as he was called into action after a litany of injuries decimated the Eagles’ depth chart.
“It’s like a bug this year I guess,” said Crenwelge, who played the entire second half.
Already without junior starter Ryan Simmons, Salado lost backup quarterback Davis Little midway through the second quarter and the Eagles’ offense could never recover as Marlin swept in for a 17-7 win on homecoming at Eagles Stadium.
“It’s a revolving door right now, we can’t keep a consistent lineup because of injuries,” said Salado head coach Glenn Talbott. “Week to week it’s a new quarterback. We just can’t get healthy.”
Simmons, who played three snaps out of sheer desperation when Little was knocked out of the game, is hopeful to return next week after suffering a high ankle sprain last week against Cameron Yoe.
“He can’t run full speed, that’s why he couldn’t avoid anything,” Talbott said. “There’s no sense in putting him out there and losing him for the season.”
Little started but was ineffective (2-of-9 for 10 yards and an interception) before he went to the bench after a hard hit on a third-down incompletion with 5½ minutes left in the second quarter.
“When you’re starting quarterback is out, the psyche of the team changes, everything changes,” Talbott said. “And then when your second quarterback gets hurt. If Chase got hurt, I don’t know what we were going to do.”
With the revolving door at quarterback, Salado (0-5, 0-2 13-2A DI) managed just 83 total yards of offense, including just 60 rushing yards on 27 carries.
The Eagles only made it past the Marlin 30-yard line once, and managed to cross midfield twice, albeit briefly both times.
Salado’s best drive was its second of the second half when Crenwelge, working the read-option effectively, drove from his own 27 to the Bulldogs’ 25-yard line following a 19-yard keeper.
“He’s got his strength and his strength is to run, but you can’t live on that,” Talbott said of the option game.
Of course, that was all the Eagles would get as a recovered botched snap and a 1-yard loss resulted in third-and-21.
It only got worse after Crenwelge fumbled while winding up for a pass when the ball slipped out of his hands, a la a statue-of-liberty play, for a 19-yard loss.
“When we broke down, that was on me,” Crenwelge said. “When that (fumbled) pass happened, it did bring us to a screeching halt.”
Marlin, which ran for nearly 400 yards last week against Florence, ran effectively (46 carries for 196 yards) but found the end zone in the pass game when quarterback Paul Humphrey found tailback DeMarcus Womack twice on bubble-screens that he took 53 and 43 yards for touchdowns on back-to-back drives that lasted a combined 59 seconds.
“They were loading the box all night ... and we took advantage of what they were giving us,” said Marlin coach Tim Hensley, a former defensive coordinator at Copperas Cove (2005-09).
The Eagles’ lone score came on special teams when Marlin kicker Ivan Pena mishandled the kickoff following a roughing-the-kicker penalty on the extra point try after the second Humphrey-to-Womack touchdown from the Salado 45.
Picking up the short kick at his own 36, Salado’s Trey Mohler outran the Bulldogs down their own sideline and into the end zone for a 64-yard touchdown return.
“It wasn’t on purpose, he miss-kicked it, and I thought they’d end up getting it would be my luck, but Trey made a great play on it and just split them and went down the sideline,” Talbott said of Mohler’s return. “It was a good play for us, about the only one we had.”