BELTON — Even after seeing his team fall behind just 12 seconds into the game, Troy coach Ronnie Porter wasn’t about to be shaken.
Neither was his team.
Instead, the Trojans ran off 49 straight points and hardly allowed the Salado Eagles to see the light of UMHB’s Crusader Stadium as they stormed to a 49-7 rout Friday night to deliver Porter a resounding victory in his head coaching debut.
“People kept asking me if I was nervous,” said Porter, who replaced Jay Seibert. “I was a little, but I just knew we were prepared for this game.”
Indeed they were as the Trojans rolled up 377 yards of offense — 302 on the ground — while stifling the Eagles to 151 yards and only eight first downs in a battle of run-oriented slot-T teams. The teams combined to throw just eight passes, but Troy quarterback Blake Mitchell made his count for a pair of touchdowns.
“These were growing pains,” said Salado coach Brent Graham, whose team made the switch from the spread to the slot-T this season. “There are a lot of things we can learn from this game. You have to hand it to Troy. They capitalized on opportunities. We made too many mistakes that you just can’t make.”
Salado’s Keaton Mims took the opening kickoff back 90 yards through the Troy coverage for a touchdown to get the Eagles a fast 7-0 lead.
Rather than that being the catapult for the Eagles, it turned out to be their only significant highlight. However, it took the Trojans most of the first quarter to match the lead.
Troy took advantage of a short field following a short punt as Bailey Guynes shook off two tacklers and went 24 yards for the Trojans first touchdown to make it 7-7 at the 3:43 mark.
The Trojans separated themselves from the Eagles in the second quarter with 20 points to take a 27-7 halftime lead.
Coby Herring, who led all rushers with 126 yards on just six carries, rumbled 60 yards to the Salado 7 on the first play of the quarter to set up Garett Qualey’s 4-yard touchdown scamper for a 13-7 lead. Marc Hooks recovered an Eagle fumble on the ensuing kickoff. On the next play, Mitchell found Blake Mundt behind the Salado secondary for a 38-yard strike and a 21-7 advantage.
Troy got on the board again just before half with Mitchell hitting Austin Talasek on a fade route to cap a 51-yard drive in four plays.
The Trojans kept the pedal to the metal by going 63 yards in four plays on the opening drive of the second half with Herring taking it in on a 51-yard romp. Qualey ran in the two-point conversion for a 35-7 margin.
Troy added a 5-yard tally by Qualey on an option pitch and a 55-yard scamper by backup quarterback Elijah Saldana to close out the scoring.
“I thought our guys were prepared for this game, but we’ve got to get them ready to play and that falls on me,” Graham said. “Not everything was bad and we’ll learn from this. Our guys have just got to get confidence in themselves.”
Porter, on the other hand, could feel full satisfaction with a solid defensive performance spurred by linebackers Zach Epperson and Matt Beck.
“I’m extremely proud of the way the kids played this opening game,” he said.