GOLDTHWAITE — No. 90 was all about containing No. 25.
The Goldthwaite Eagles won the 90th “Battle of the River” on Friday night, beating the archrival San Saba Armadillos 30-7 as quarterback Michael Williams ran for a touchdown and passed for another.
The key to Goldthwaite’s 11th win in its last 14 games against San Saba was defending No. 25, San Saba quarterback John Henry. The 185-pound senior passed for 198 yards and ran for touchdown, but he was intercepted twice and sacked three times, including once near the Armadillos’ end zone that Eagles defensive tackle David Carr recovered for the game’s first touchdown.
“I was a spy on John Henry all night,” Goldthwaite linebacker Bo Lindsey said. “I followed him everywhere he went. We knew if we contained John Henry, we could contain the ‘Dillos. He’s their biggest threat. He can run. He can pass. We had to go after him. I think we did pretty well.”
Henry, a 1,000-yard rusher and passer last season, finished Friday 16-for-35 passing, but Goldthwaite limited him to 5 yards rushing on 13 carries. His 7-yard touchdown run with 8:06 left in the game only cut the Armadillos’ deficit to 24-7.
San Saba receivers Derek Sears and Casey Phillips combined for 14 pass receptions for 161 yards, but the Eagles’ defensive backs were able keep the Armadillo duo in front of them pretty much all night. And that was with two freshmen — James Harden and Jonathan Williams — starting in the Eagles’ secondary.
“Those two freshmen hadn’t hurt us at all,” Goldthwaite defensive coordinator Tim Spradley said. “We knew they (Armadillos) were going to catch some balls. What we wanted to do was, when they caught it, make sure they got hit and limit their yards after the catch.”
Goldthwaite senior Wade Clifton, seeing his first extended action this season because of an ankle injury, churned out 116 yards rushing, including a 2-yard touchdown for the Eagles’ final score. He led a rushing game that gained 302 yards and 16 of the Eagles’ 18 first downs. Even with San Saba crowding all 11 of its defenders to within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage on most plays, the Eagles were able to run effectively.
Fullback Tyler Gonzales added 72 yards rushing for Goldthwiate while Walt Clifton had 44 and Cory Baker 42.
“It felt great to be back,” said Wade Clifton, who rushed for 1,877 yards the last two seasons. “The line blocked hard, and I thought the backs ran pretty hard. It’s just good to get the win.”
Goldthwaite (2-1) led 14-0 at the half with the benefit of Carr’s fumble recovery in the end zone and a 27-yard drive that began after San Saba (1-2) was forced to punt from its 3-yard line. Cody Stevens hit Henry near the goal line, and amid a pile of players, Carr recovered the loose ball to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
After San Saba’s punt set up Goldthwaite at the Armadillos’ 27, the Eagles converted three straight third downs, including Williams’ 1-yard scoring run that made it 14-0 with 2:43 left before halftime.
Goldthwaite made it 17-0 on Baker’s 23-yard field goal in the third quarter. Then, Taylor Watson’s blocked punt set up Williams’ 25-yard touchdown pass to Clay Phillips that extended the Eagles’ lead to 24-0 with 1:43 left in the third quarter.
“Some good things happened that helped us out, but we played some pretty solid football, too,” Goldthwaite head coach Gary Proffitt said. “We had some turnovers (three), but we battled through them. We didn’t let them linger.”