SALADO — In front of an over-flowing, police-estimated crowd of 4,000 fans, the host Salado Eagles scored early and often in a 42-17 stomping of Austin St. Dominic Savio on Friday night.
With the game less than four minutes old, Eagles right guard Nathaniel Sunshine made a pulverizing block, paving the way for a 42-yard Jake Harvey touchdown run, giving Salado a 7-0 lead.
“You can’t remember every block you make in a game but that block meant a lot to me,” Sunshine said. “After I got my guy, I absolutely knew Jake would score, he’s an excellent runner.”
After Savio (3-2) tied the score at 7-7 with 3:23 left in the first quarter, Harvey retaliated with a 44-yard touchdown run.
Ahead 14-7, Salado running back Jake Elliott scored on a 76-yard run — and the rout was on.
Ahead 21-7 after one quarter, Eagles running back Trey Sheppard rambled over three different Savio defenders en route to a 48-yard scoring run with 5:01 left in the half.
Trailing 28-7, Savio did make an impressive late-quarter drive and faced a first-and- goal at Salado’s 7-yard line.
Then Salado lineman Zach Adams sacked quarterback Clay Orrison for an 8-yard loss. On the very next snap, Eagle linebacker Wyatt Bagley sacked Orrison for another 8-yard loss.
On third-and- goal from the 23, Savio tried a run and Tate Hill and Bagley snuffed that rush for no gain.
And so Savio was forced to settle for a field goal and trailed 28-10.
Then Salado speedster Cutter Hudgens took the ensuing kickoff, faked right, ran left and was gone. Hudgens was never touched on a 75-yard kickoff return, upping the Eagles lead to 35-10, which they took into halftime.
Salado had 314 first-half rushing yards on 22 carries, an eye-popping 14.7 per carry.
For the contest, the Eagles ran for 442 yards on 38 carries, an average of 11.6 per rush.
“We’ll take that average per rush any time,” said Eagles first-year head coach Alan Haire, who has clearly instilled a brand-new, upbeat, we-can-win attitude at Salado. “Our line worked very hard to get us those yards. They get after it. Our line was excellent and I’m very proud of them.”
Besides Sunshine — an absolute bulldozer all game — also making key blocks were tackles Phil Ruiz, Robert Soto, guard Bobby Cunningham and center Willy Whigham, among others.
The final score of the contest came from Sheppard on a 1-yard burst — off big blocks from Cunningham, Whigham and Sunshine — with 2:18 to play in the third quarter.
Salado is now riding a three-game winning streak.
“I want our kids to feel good about that accomplishment,” Haire said. “They’ve earned these three wins. Now it’s important they understand that we’re back to a 0-0 record because district starts next week.
“But, no question, it is nice to go into our district play with some momentum.”