By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
SALADO - When the Badgers needed big plays on offense, quarterback Brandon Scott converted and running back Marcus Kehoe scored.
But Lampasas needed to stop Salado's prolific offense, too. For that, the Badgers unleashed junior defensive end Ray Galbraith.
Scott ran for 201 yards, Kehoe scored three touchdowns and Galbraith led the Badgers' defense to key stop after key stop by sticking it to Salado quarterback Mike Richardson in the second half, ensuring the Badgers would meet defending District 25-3A champion Liberty Hill next week in Lampasas undefeated with its 42-28 win over Salado on Friday.
"Ray's just an athlete. He's very fast with his feet and his hands are quick and he's strong and he's just smart. And you saw his enthusiasm when he made the sacks and that's something that breathes through the rest of us," Lampasas coach Joey McQueen said of Galbraith. "I'm very proud of everybody and I think he kind of set the tone on defense and Brandon set it on offense."
Galbraith and the Badgers defense pressured Richardson into three straight incompletions early in the fourth quarter, setting Kehoe's third touchdown run of night to give Lampasas (6-1, 3-0) its first lead of the night, 28-21 with 8:14 left.
After a quick-strike 63-yard touchdown pass from Richardson to Austin Silva tied the game, Secody Howard fell on a fumble in the endzone for a Lampasas touchdown. Silva finished with five catches for 122 yards and a touchdown.
Galbraith sacked Richardson for a five-yard loss on a third-and-5 play with 2:37 left; Richardson's fourth-down deep throw to Joe Owens fell incomplete and Scott secured the Badgers' fourth straight win with a 15-yard run with 1:11 left.
"We did a great job adjusting at halftime and we've just really good players," Scott said of the Badgers' defense. "Ray Galbraith was back in that backfield, giving that quarterback heck the whole time."
Salado (4-4, 1-2) had the district's best offense coming in and Richardson showcased the Eagles' passing attack by completing 17 of 29 passes for 257 yards but was under duress most of the second half, unable to pick apart the Badgers' defense as easily as he did in the first half.
"They put pressure on Mike and they did a tremendous job coming out in the second half," Salado coach Glenn Talbott said. "It was back-and-forth all the way until about midway through that fourth quarter. We were still fighting and battling. They made some adjustments and we had hard time stopping them on defense."
Richardson's 17-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Simmons broke a 14-14 halftime tie on the first drive of the second half, but Kehoe answered, scoring his second touchdown of the game on a 19-yarder with 5:46 left in the third.
The Badgers' pressure then got to Richardson. The Eagles were forced to punt on back-to-back possessions between the third and fourth quarters because of Lampasas' drive-killing sacks and pressures that set up Kehoe's go-ahead touchdown run.
"Knowing that if the quarterback had time, they were throwing it deep all over us, so we had to get heat on him," Galbraith said of the Badgers' second-half adjustments. "It was very crucial. It was great for us to get those stops because our offense was going to score no matter what."
Lampasas failed to cross the 50-yard line in the first quarter, but flipped the switch in the second quarter. Howard ran for six on a fourth-and-1 play and Kehoe capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run aided by a five-yard offsides penalty against Salado on a fourth-and-5 play.
The Eagles wasted little time answering, though. Richardson completed a pair of passes to Owens for 49 yards and Peyton Best cushioned Salado's lead to 14-6 on a 15-yard reverse with 3:45 left in the first half. Best was hurt on the play and didn't return in the second half for precautionary reasons.
Scott tied the game less than a minute and a half later, scoring on an 8-yard run and then reversed field to run in a 2-point conversion, tying the game at 14 at halftime.
Simmons, the Eagles' No. 2 quarterback, completed his only pass attempt for a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jim Wentrcek that gave Salado a 7-0 lead with 5:39 left in the first quarter.
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562.