The final score of 34-14 didn’t truly capture the drama of the Salado Eagles’ final game of the season in their loss to the Bellville Brahmas. The Brahmas will face the top team in state this week playing West Orange Stark.
Had a couple of fourth downs turned out differently, the score would have been much closer.
At the top of the second quarter, trailing 7-0, the Eagles lined up to punt from their own 26 yard line on a fourth and four. Trevor Stump apparently had trouble with a snap and took off hoping to get a first down. He was stopped by the Brahmas at the Salado 25 yard line.
Four plays later, the Brahmas had a 14-0 lead on a one yard dive by Mac Briscoe. The Eagles defense gave up a couple of yards and looked as if it might make the Brahmas settled for a long field goal, when Tylin Bryant took a sweep for 21 yards and a first and goal to set up the touchdown.
Bellville took this swing in momentum and extended its lead to 21-0 at the half.
Before the halftime buzzer, though, Salado threatened to score and cut the Bellville lead in half.
The Eagles defense held Bellville deep in its own territory and Cutter Hudgens returned a Brahma punt from the Bellville 45 yard line to the 32 yard line.
Trey Sheppard dove through the middle of the Brahma defense on a fourth and two at the 24 to put the ball at the 20 yard line.
A false start pushed Salado back to the 25 yard line. Runs by Sheppard, Jake Harvey and Aaron Torczynski brought the ball to the 16 yard line. Hayden Haire dropped back on fourth and six and hit Torczynski, who was dropped a yard shy of the first down, taking away the scoring opportunity with 2:54 left in the half.
Bellville marched the 89 yards in two minutes, due mostly to a 48 yard pass from Connor McIntyre to Tristen Williamson to get the ball to the Salado 28 yard line. Following a Salado timeout, Bellville scored on the next play on a Tylin Bryant sweep with a minute left in the half.
The extra point gave Bellville a 21-0 lead at the half.
Salado took the second half kick off, driving from their own 29 to the Brahmas’ six yard line. On a fourth and five, Salado elected to go for a field goal. A low snap and hold resulted in Jake Walrath’s kick hitting the crossbar, and turning the ball over to Bellville.
The Brahmas took advantage of the break, driving the length of the field in eight plays, scoring on a 14 yard run by Briscoe. The PAT gave Bellville a 28-0 lead with 3:23 left in the third.
Salado answered by putting up the Eagles’ first score. The Eagles took the ball 69 yards in less than 90 seconds. Trey Sheppard had runs of three and 31 yards, followed by a 26 yard by Torczynski. Jake Harvey scored from the nine yard line and Walrath converted the kick for a 28-7 score.
Harvey scored again on a 41 yard run with 6:19 left in the game. The kick by Walrath brought the score to 28-14.
The Eagles attempted an on-sides kick, giving the Brahmas a short field. The defense forced Bellville to a three-and-out series. Salado took over at their own 21 yard line after a 16 yard return by Hudgens. On a fourth and four, Harvey took the ball 41 yards, picking his way through the Bellville defense and giving Salado a first and 10 at the Brahma’s 32 yard line with 1:53 left.
Salado could not convert the opportunity to narrow Bellville’s lead, turning the ball over on downs.
The Eagles defense held standout running back Mac Briscoe to just 80 yards on 28 carries. This was his lowest output in the entire season. Prior to this, Briscoe averaged nine yards per carry and had nine games over 100 yards rushing, seven of them with more than 200 yards.
Bellville had a total of 260 yards rushing, but added 120 passing for 380 yards total offense.
Salado had 334 yards on the ground and five yards in the air for 339 yards total offense. The Eagles had just one fumble, which they recovered, near the end of the game.
Harvey led the Eagles with 126 yards on 13 carries. Sheppard followed with 109 yards on 17 carries. Torczynski added 72 yards on the ground on 11 carries.