Defense shuts down prolific Panther offense
Eagles offense pounds out 393 yards
“They did that tonight,” Coach Alan Haire said with a big smile after the Salado Eagles dominated the Hyde Park Baptist Panthers 28-9 tonight at Eagle Field.
“They were explosive coming off of the line,” he said.
Explosive is right. The Eagles had 393 yards of offense, all of it on the ground.
“Willy Wigham did a great job tonight at center,” Haire said. It was Wigham’s first game to start at the position. “Noah Barker had a terrific game, too on the line.”
Jake Harvey, who had three rushing touchdowns and 83 yards rushing, pointed out the blocking of the offensive line and fullback Trey Sheppard. “It really felt good after all the work we have been putting in to have it finally pay off.”
Yet when speedster Kyle Granger took the opening kickoff back for an 82-yard touchdown, a collective gasp could be heard in the Salado stands as the Panthers put six on the board before everyone got seated.
But that play was about the only bright spot for the visiting Panthers, who averaged 46 points per game in their opening two weeks.
Andrew Sniggs sacked Panther quarterback D.J Bolger three times and the Eagles defense got to Bolger just about every time he dropped back to pass. Quade Brown intercepted a Bolger pass on third and one to give the Eagles the ball at the Hyde Park 20 yard line.
Facing a third and 14, Hayden Haire gave the ball to Harvey as he sped around the end for a 24 yard touchdown at 2:54 in the first. His brother Tate Harvey ran in the conversion to give the Eagles their first lead of the season, 8-6.
A Sniggs sack in the second ended a Panther series.
With the ball at their own 38 yard line, Salado took nine plays and three minutes off the clock to score their second touchdown. Harvey scored on another run around the end, this time from 20 yards out with 9:28 left in the half. The drive was marked by big runs by Aaron Torczynski of nine yards and Jake Elliott of 24 yards on a fourth and two. The point after failed.
Jacob Daniels fielded Jake Walrath’s kick off at the Hyde Park 35 and ran it to the Salado 22 to set up the Panthers’ second and final score of the game. Brandt Peterson kicked a 29 yard field goal to bring the score to 14-9 Salado.
The rest of the game was all Salado as the Panthers could neither run nor pass against defensive coordinator John Kirk’s quick linebackers.
Salado added a touchdown in the final minute of the first half. Wyatt Bagley and Ashten Sniggs sacked Bolger for a 12 yard loss on a third and 10 to force the Panthers to punt at their own 30 yards line.
Hudgens waved for the fair catch to give Salado the ball at their own 31 yard line. On first down, Torczynski blasted through the line to get the ball to midfield. He then pushed the ball to the Panther 40 yard line for a second and one to go. Harvey took the ball around the end for a 40 yard touchdown. Walrath booted the extra point to give Salado a 21-9 lead at the half.
Hudgens intercepted a pass by Bolger with 7:18 in the third to set up another sustained scoring drive by the Eagles, the final one of the night.
After an eight yard run by Elliott, back-to-back false start penalties moved the ball to the Salado 34 yard line. Cade Depoy bulled up the middle for runs of nine and 13 yards to give Salado a first down in Panther territory. He then plowed over the gassed Hyde Park defense for a 22 yard run.
Trey Sheppard took a hand-off from Haire into the end zone for a 21 yard touchdown with 3:51 left in the third. Walrath added the extra point for the 28-9 lead.
Mercifully, the officials managed the clock for the fourth quarter to give Salado its first win of the season at about 9:45 p.m.
Salado Eagles versus Austin Hyde Park Panthers