SALADO — McLane Carter passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns and Ryan Simmons rushed for 129 yards and three scores as the Salado Eagles gave first-year head coach Brent Graham his first career victory with a 34-12 win over Florence on homecoming night at Eagle Stadium.
“It feels great,” Graham said after the game. “Our kids deserve this. They deserve to win. Tonight was a good night for us. The biggest thing is a lot of hard work has paid off tonight for these young kids. It was good to win a game tonight in front of a homecoming crowd. It was a good atmosphere.”
The Eagles (1-5, 1-2) jumped on the Buffaloes (1-5, 0-3) early. After Florence muffed a Salado punt midway through the opening quarter, the Eagles recovered it at the Buffaloes’ 38. It took Salado just three plays — all runs by Simmons, including an 8-yard scamper for the score — to get into the end zone and take a 7-0 lead.
The Eagles struck again on their next possession. On a drive that once again started on the Buffalo side of the field, Salado drove 44 yards on 7 plays, capped by a 38-yard scoring pass from Carter to Case Spears that gave the Eagles a 14-0 lead. Spears was the junior quarterback’s favorite
target on the night as the senior receiver would end up with six receptions for 114 yards. Salado maintained its 14-point advantage through the first half, as neither team would score in the second quarter.
The Eagles got on the board again about five minutes into the third quarter. This time Salado drove 62 yards on just four plays. The drive was highlighted by a 51-yard pass from Carter to senior receiver Caden Eary that got the Eagles all the way down to the Florence 5-yard line. Simmons punched it in from there for a 20-0 Salado lead.
The Buffaloes finally got on the scoreboard on their next possession. On a drive that ate up nearly eight minutes, Florence went 73 yards on 14 plays. The Buffaloes used a steady dose of three different runners — quarterback Joseph Ramirez and running backs Lendell Freeman and Fernando Ortiz — on the drive and Ramirez capped it with a 1-yard sneak for the score just a minute into the fourth quarter to cut Salado’s lead to 20-6.
The Eagles quickly responded, though, on their next possession. Salado
went 64 yards on 7 plays in 2:20, capped by a 30-yard touchdown pass from Carter to Jacob Little, to extend its lead back to three scores.
Florence didn't go away, though. On its next possession, the Buffaloes went 67 yards on seven plays. The drive was highlighted by a 31-yard halfback pass from Wyatt Odom to Michael Hoisington and was capped by a 25-yard scoring run by Odom.
The Buffaloes recovered the ensuing onside kick and drove down to the
Salado 20 before failing to convert on a fourth-and-1. The Eagles took
over and proceeded to put the game away, driving 75 yards on eight plays, as Simmons scored from 15 yards out for his third touchdown of the night.
“We did some good things and there’s obviously a lot things we have to
work on,” Graham said. “Florence played hard and kept our offense off the field. For us, we’ve got to eliminate mistakes, eliminate penalties. We’re going to work this week to get better at those things and continue what we do best and get better at everything that we do.”
The Eagles host Troy next week in another District 13-2A, Div. I matchup.
“We just press on,” Graham said. “You don’t get a whole lot of time to
enjoy it. Troy’s a great football team. That’s what we’re looking forward
to. We’re just going one game at a time.”