Salado will face Liberty in Area game Sat. Nov. 25
By Larnce Barker Salado Sports
Coach Alan Haire and his Salado Eagles squad went to Mustang Stadium and accomplished their weekly goal to go 1-0 as they beat the Columbus Cardinals 42-14 Nov. 17 to advance to the Area round of the 4A Division 2 Playoffs.
The Columbus Cardinals took the opening kickoff and had a five play opening series when the Eagles stingy defense forced the Cardinals to punt. Cardinal punter Troy Pflughaupt shanked the punt for just 14 yards, setting the Eagles up in good field position at the Salado 34 yard line. The Eagles took the football and drove 66 yards on nine plays. Trey Sheppard scored on a 17 yard run with 6:29 left in the first quarter. Jake Walrath’s kick for the Eagles gave Salado the early 7-0 lead.
Columbus, with a heavy dose of trap plays up the middle of the Eagle defense had much success on their second drive of the game. On the 13th play of the drive, QB Hayden Leopold took the shotgun snap and under defensive pressure from Jacob Wilk, threw the pass into the end zone where Caleb Self intercepted the football and halted the Cardinal drive.
Salado took advantage of the Self interception and went 80 yards on three plays, including Sheppard’s run of 51 yards to pay dirt. Walrath’s PAT with 10:46 left in the second quarter made the score 14-0.
The Cardinals struck quickly when Tyree Simcik took a handoff 61 yards for a Columbus touchdown. Cade Collier’s kick with 10:28 left in the second quartercut the Salado lead to 14-7.
The Cardinals defense tightened up on the Eagles next offensive drive forcing Salado’s Walrath would to punt the football 31 yards to the Cardinals 27 yard line. The Eagles next defensive four play series saw great plays from Rustin Hale, Caden Smien, Andrew Sniggs and Quade Brown to force a Pflughaupt punt of 37 yards to the Eagles 35 yard line.
The Cardinals would get a steady dose of the Salado running backs corps of Sheppard, DePoy and Aaron Torczynski over the next eight plays driving 65 yards and scoring on a 4 yard run by Torczynski. Walrath made the PAT with 2:42 left in the half to give the Eagles a 21-7 lead.
Columbus was determined to score before the half-time buzzer. On the seventh play of the drive, the Cardinals faked the punt and Damion Sewell ran 45 yards to the Eagles 5 yard line for a first down. On the next play, QB Leopold handed off to Simcik going to the left, but Wilk tripped up Simcik, who fumbled the ball recovered by Smien to stifle the drive.
The Cardinals tried an onside kick to start the second half but the Eagles hands team were ready. Wade Woods fielded the kick for Salado. An offside penalty against Columbus gave Salado great position, but the Eagles turned the ball over on a fumble. The Eagles defense forced Columbus to Pflughaupt punt to the Eagles 23 yard line.
Salado struck again on the fourth play of the drive when Hayden Haire connected with Torczynski for a 58 yard TD pass. Walrath kicked the PAT for a 28-7 lead with 8:03 left in the third quarter.
The stingy Eagles defense would cause havoc on the next Cardinal drive to force a Pflughaupt to punt the football back to Salado. The Eagles drove 74 yards and Sheppard scored on a 7 yard run. Walrath kicked the extra point to give Salado a 35-7 lead with 2:53 left in the third.
Self got his second interception of the night late, but Salado could not convert the turnover into points and Walrath punted to midfield. Columbus engineered a six play scoring drive, capped by Leopold hitting Tyler Mills on a 17 yard TD pass. Collier kicked the PAT to cut the lead to 35-14 with 9:48 left in the game.
The Eagles took 12 plays to drive 85 yards and chew up six minutes of the clock. Torczynski scored a TD run from 13 yards out. Walrath’s kick with 4:13 left in the fourth quarter increased the lead to the final score of 42-14.
The Cardinals would have one last offensive series with the Eagles defense. The first Cardinal offensive play was a Leopold pass attempt which was batted down by Tommie Barker and the second play was almost intercepted by Quade Brown. The third Cardinal offensive play of the series was successful Leopold bubble screen to Sewell for 36 yards and a first down for Columbus at the Eagles 36 yard line. Leopold would set up to pass but have to scramble for 8 yards to set up a second and two at the Eagles 28 yard line. The Eagles Defense would rise up on the next play when Willy Whigham would cause the Cardinals Simcik to fumble the bass for the second time in the game. Safety Wrook Brown recovered the fumble to end the Columbus drive.
Hayden Haire handed the ball off to reserve backs Hunter Turk and Reid Vincent until he would get into the Victory formation for one final snap.
Salado advances to the Area round, where they will play the Liberty Panthers at Bryan Viking Stadium in Bryan 7 p.m. Nov. 25. The Panthers are the runner-up in District 12-4A Div. II. They beat Shepherd 31-28 in the Bi-District Round. Bryan Viking Stadium is 3450 Campus Dr. Bryan Texas 77802.
All four District 9-4A Div. 2 teams won their Bi-District games. Runners-up Mexia Black Cats beat Gonzales (third place in District 10) 30-7. Third place Lorena beat Caldwell (second in District 10) 42-25 and Fourth place Fairfield beat Giddings )District 10 Champions) 41-2.