McGREGOR — The Salado Eagles finished their one-win season Friday night with a 32-17 loss to playoff-bound McGregor.
They were again doomed by their mistakes and inability to capitalize on their opponent’s. Still, the Eagles trudged on, maybe proving to the Bulldogs and others that they were better than their record.
“I honestly don’t care what other people think,” said Salado senior running back Ryan Simmons. “We’re a family. We know how we played. The record doesn’t show it, but we’re proud of what we did.”
Garrett Salas ran for three scores in the first half and Troy Allison threw two touchdown passes in the second half as McGregor finally shook off a nothing-to-lose Salado team in the regular season finale for both teams at Bulldog Stadium.
The Bulldogs (9-1, 6-1 13-2A Div. I) move on to the playoffs, while the Eagles will look to move on from a 1-9 season plagued by mistakes.
“All year, it’s just been a couple plays that’s made the difference in the games,” Simmons said. “Our goal tonight was just to limit the turnovers and get turnovers on defense, and we did that. That’s what’s been killing us all year, but finally we were able to get our goals, besides a few turnovers on offense. That was the main thing. That’s been the main thing all year.
“It’s not that we’ve been a terrible team, it’s just turnovers and big plays that we’ve got beaten on.”
Salado (1-5 13-2A Div. I) turned the ball over five times, but trailed by just eight, 25-17, after kicker Chase Crenwelge booted a 42-yard field goal that bounced off and over off the crossbar with 9:18 left in the fourth.
Salas fumbled at midfield on the Bulldogs’ next possession, but Simmons was dropped for a 6-yard loss on a fourth-and-5 pass from quarterback McLane Carter. Salas, Allison and the Bulldogs then marched 55 yards in 10 plays before Allison’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Branden Dietzman sealed the Bulldogs win with 1:35 left.
“We’re not as strong as a lot of our opponents and it shows up, especially (against) the big-time run teams. ... They’re a spread team and we play better against spread teams,” said Salado first-year head coach Brent Graham. “They did what it took, the reason they’re 9-1 is they know how to capitalize on mistakes and they don’t make very many mistakes. We did tonight. We put the ball in jeopardy, again. I feel for our seniors because they deserve to go out a winner and I just feel like I let them down tonight.”
Salas finished with 87 yards on 16 carries and scored touchdowns on runs of 1, 5 and 7 yards on three consecutive carries in the first half. Allison completed 14 of 31 passes for 191 yards and two interceptions, both coming on consecutive throws in the first quarter.
Simmons finished with 108 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. He also had five receptions for 72 yards. Carter was 22-of-37 passing for 250 yards and two interceptions. The Eagles also lost three fumbles.
Simmons capitalized on Allison’s second interception with a 7-yard touchdown run that capped a 10-played, 95-yard drive that gave the Eagles an early 7-0 lead late in the first quarter. Carter completed a 37-yard pass to Kase Spears on a third-and-23 play to set up the score.
Carter completed 12 straight passes at one point in the first half and finished with 140 yards passing in the first half. Spears finished with eight catches for 100 yards for Salado.
Salas answered for McGregor with a 1-yard run that tied the game at 7 with just under two minutes left in the first.
Clayton Cole’s fumble early in the second set up Salas’ 5-yard touchdown run that gave McGregor a 13-7 lead four minutes into the second quarter.
Simmons followed that with another 1-yard run to help Salado re-take the lead, 14-13, with 1:26 left. But that was plenty of time for the Bulldogs. Allison completed a 37-yard pass to Chance Seale and, two plays later, the Bulldogs took the lead for good on Salas’ 7-yard run with 26 seconds left in the first half.
Allison threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Brett Boles on the first play of the fourth quarter to give McGregor a 25-14 lead following a Simmons’ fumble.
McGregor tops Salado 32-17 in regular season finale