LORENA — Offenses ran roughshod over defenses, thwarting routs with rallies.
“A shoot-out, Texas high school football, it’s fun to watch, but our kids deserved to win tonight,” said first-year Salado coach Brent Graham.
Lorena quarterback Harris Coleman ran for 266 yards and three scores, Duggan Burch scored the decisive touchdown with 2:15 left and the Leopards spoiled an awe-inspiring night by Salado quarterback McClane Carter, beating the Eagles 75-67 at Leopard Field on Friday night.
Carter threw for 613 yards and eight touchdowns, leading Salado to a 21-0 lead early and rallying them from a 51-35 deficit late. But the Eagles and their junior quarterback ran out of time and opportunity when Lorena recovered Salado’s onside kick attempt in the final 1:21.
“It was an offensive battle, I know that,” Carter said. “We had ups and downs, had a couple of three-and-outs, but I just kept on fighting, kept my composure. ... We put up a lot of points, but we didn’t come up with a victory, so we’re going to keep working and see what we can do next week — China Spring’s at home.”
Lorena (2-0) scored 30 straight points between the second and third quarters to rally from its early deficit and take its largest lead of the game. Salado took advantage of two turnovers by the Leopards to take a 52-51 lead late in the third.
Coleman ran three times for 43 yards to set up Chase Campbell’s 5-yard go-ahead touchdown run that broke a 59-59 time with 9:34 left in the fourth, and Burch scored on a 13-yarder seven minutes later, following a Salado three-and-out, that turned out to be the difference-maker.
“I didn’t get them in the right spots to make plays, but there were a lot of plays made out there,” Graham said. “Our kids are going to fight to the finish and that’s what’s beautiful about it. You give up 75 points and your kids are still fighting tooth and nail to get off the field as fast as they can for our offense. It was uplifting to watch our kids play.”
Burch finished with 204 yards and three touchdowns and Andrew Marrero ran for three scores in the first half and finished with 114 yards.
The Leopards totalled 609 rushing yards, 677 overall, in the win. Salado finished with 696 yards total, mostly through the air.
Kase Spears had 15 catches for 281 yards and three touchdowns and Davis Little had five catches for 147 yards and four touchdowns. Ryan Simmons ran for 94 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
“It’s really fun,” Spears said of playing in the offensive shootout, “you’re battling back and forth, you’re in the game, you’re excited. Unfortunately, it didn’t end the way we wanted it to.”
“If we can put 67 points up in district, I think we’ll be OK.”
Carter capped the Eagles’ first drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Spears, and threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Chase Crenwelge to give Salado a 14-0 lead before the Lorena offense ever took the field. McLane Mathews recovered Salado’s pooch kick at the Lorena 31 following its score to set up Crewelge’s touchdown. The Leopards’ offense was forced to punt on its opening series and three plays later, Salado led 21-0 on Carter’s 69-yard touchdown pass to Davis Little with 4:46 left in the first.
Coleman scored on a 12-yard run for the Leopards with 3:12 left in the first following a Salado personal foul penalty. Marrero scored on a 17-yard run following a Carter fumble to cut the Eagles’ lead to 21-15.
Carter came right back with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Spears to give the Eagles a 22-15 lead going into the second. Carter completed 14 of 18 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns in the first quarter.
Marrero scored on runs of 39 and 27 yards in the second quarter, and Coleman added a 3-yard touchdown run and kicked the go-ahead point-after attempt at the end of the second quarter to give the Leopards their 36-35 lead at the intermission.
Burch capped Lorena’s opening drive of the second half with a 32-yard run that stretched the Leopards’ lead to 44-35. Coleman scored from five yards away after Lorena recovered its onside kick attempt to take a 51-35 lead.
Carter completed a 30-yard scoring strike to Spears to cut the Lorena lead to 51-42 and Davis Little intercepted Coleman on the Leopards’ next drive to set up Carter’s 55-yard touchdown pass to Spears.
Salado’s Clayton Cole recovered a Marrero fumble three plays later Chase Crenwelge capitalized for the Eagles by hitting a go-ahead 21-yard field goal that gave Salado a 52-51 lead with less 2 minutes left in the third.
Coleman had a 40-yard run, and Burch carried four times for 30 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown run that gave Lorena a 59-52 lead going into the fourth.
Carter completed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Little that tied the game at 59, but six plays later, Campbell scored the go-ahead run from five yards away to give the Leopards a 67-59 lead. Following a Salado punt, Burch added the 13-yard insurance score.
Carter completed his final touchdown pass Little for 14 yards, but Lorena recovered the Eagles’ onside kick attempt, ran three plays and then celebrated, leaving the Eagles still searching for win No. 1 for their new head coach.
“We’re 0-2 right now,” Graham said. “and, walking away, this is the best 0-2 feeling I’ve ever had.”