Salado Eagles jumped out to an early lead, thanks to two three-and-out stops by the defense, and then never looked back, beating the Troy Trojans 47-26 in the season opener at UMHB’s Crusader Stadium tonight.
The Eagles scored first after forcing Troy to a three-and-out series, on a 25 yard run by Caden Strickland with 7:58 left in the first. The run capped a 55-yard run. The PAT failed.
Salado defense stepped up for another three-and-out series. Reid Vincent ran between his blockers on the right side and then cut back at the Troy 40 to score a 75-yard touchdown with 5:11 left in the first. The PAT failed, giving Salado a 12-0 lead.
Troy answered on the first play from scrimmage when workhorse running back Zach Hrbacek took the ball 65 yards for a TD. He also converted the two-point try, making it 12-8 with 5:06 in the first.
Troy’s defense then stepped up and forced a Salado punt from the Eagle 15. Troy took advantage of a short field and scored seven plays later on a 11 yard run by Hrbacek. The run capped a 47 yard drive. A successful kick gave Troy its only lead of the game, 15-12 with 11:06 left in the first half.
Salado answered quickly on a 59-yard run by Vincent, which followed his 16 yard run for a 75-yard scoring drive. Wrook Brown kicked the PAT for a 19-15 Salado lead with 10:28 in the first half.
The Eagles forced Troy to a three-and-out and a punt from their own 17 yard line. A personal foul against Troy on the return gave Salado the ball at the Trojan 27. Salado struggled to advance the ball and Hutton Haire was sacked for an 11 yard loss on third down. On fourth and 18, Haire perfectly hit Brown in stride on a flag route for a 35 yard TD. The PAT kick was good giving Salado a 26-15 lead.
Troy threatened to narrow the gap in the waning minutes of the half, but the Eagles defense stepped up in the red zone to force the Trojans to turn the ball over on downs.
The Eagles took more than six minutes to score on the opening drive of the second half. Hutton Haire followed his line into the endzone for a two yard sneak on a third down and goal to cap the 67 yard scoring drive. The drive took 13 plays, all on the ground. Brown kicked the PAT for a 33-15 lead.
Troy answered with a 74 yard touchdown run by Hrbacek with 5:12 left in the third. After a penalty, the PAT failed. Troy trailed 33-21.
Brown returned the kick past midfield. The Eagles drove 41 yards in five plays, scoring on a 6-yard Brown run with 2:42 left in the third. Brown missed the PAT, and the Eagles led 39-21.
Troy drove 70 yards in just over a minute, scoring on a 26 yard run by Hrbacek. Hrbacek almost scored on the first play following the kick, but Brown stopped him after a 44-yard run. Another penalty against Troy on the PAT caused it to fail, leaving the Trojans trailing 39-27 with 1:11 left in the third.
Two minutes later, Salado scored on a 28 yard run by Noah Mescher. The run capped a 72-yard, six-play drive that was all on the ground. Brown booted the PAT for a 46-27 lead with 10:44 left to play.
Salado’s defense stiffened for the remaining two possessions for the Eagles to take the decisive ground-game win 46-27.
Hrbacek carried the Trojans on his back, scoring all four TDs and a two-point PAT. He had 322 yards on 27 carries.
Troy had 350 yards total offense, 21 passing yards and 329 rushing.
Salado had 412 yards on the ground and 39 yards passing. Noah Mescher led the Eagles with 173 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Reid Vincent had 161 yards and one touchdown. Caden Strickland had 73 yards and a touchdown.
Hutton Haire had a touchdown rushing and one passing.