EARLY — Coming off a big win over Ingram Tom Moore last Friday to start the District 3-2A Division race, the Early Longhorns appeared to never break stride and maybe even pick a little steam on their way to a 35-20 victory over the Brady Bulldogs. With a home field advantage and momentum on their side, the Longhorns continued to show how their team is improving in front of a standing room only homecoming crowd.
While 35 points is no small feat for a football team, it was really the defense that again set the tone. After forcing Brady to punt on its first possession, the Longhorns took over at their own 37 and marched 63 yards in 11 plays to put the first points on the board with 5:16 to play in the first period.
Jake Fisher — who rushed for 171 yards and three touchdowns — pounded up the middle and around the corners with runs of 7, 27, 8 and 3 yards, and Cameron Denison connected with Charlie Tongate on a 15-yard pass to set up the Longhorns up with a first-and goal-at the Brady 9. Three plays yielded only 6 yards and facing fourth-and-3, Denison rolled right on a naked bootleg and drew all defenders out of the end zone, then tossed a soft pass to the waiting hands of Austin Isom for six points and a lead the Horns would never relinquish.
The Longhorn defense got the ball right back after an outstanding play by Brandon Moore, who chased down the Bulldog quarterback Mason Bierman for an 18-yard loss on Brady’s next possession.
Brady’s punt gave the Longhorns a short field at the Bulldog 49. From there, Denison went to the air, hitting Tongate and Isom, and again the Longhorns were looking at first-and-goal from the 5. This time, it took only two plays for Fisher to punch it in and Denison’s toss to Colin Walker for two points put the Horns up 14-0 with less than a minute to play in the first quarter.
In talking about the defensive play, Early head coach Brad Bowden said, “Our defense has been getting better and better. We prepared all week long for a wing-T and all of a sudden they show up and they’re doing a lot of wing-T misdirection stuff out of the gun, but it’s a different animal. Our kids did a good job of adjusting, they caught us off guard a little bit early, but our tackling just is getting better and better. I’m really proud of Coach (Darren) Bailey and the defensive staff. They’re doing a good job, and we’ve just got to get better each week.”
Brady was able to close the gap briefly as a couple of long runs set up a score with 11:01 to play in the second quarter, but again the Longhorn defense stepped up and forced the Bulldogs offense back near their own goal line, where Moore again broke through the line for a sack and two points for a safety.
At that point, the Horns led 16-6 and were the recipients of a free kick and great field position at the Brady 37. An interference call on fourth-and-13 gave the Horns new life inside the Brady 30 where Fisher broke open through the middle of the line for a 27-yard touchdown run and a 22-6 halftime lead.
The Longhorns’ O-line and defensive front continued to control the football game throughout the second half as Early tacked on 13 more points to cushion its lead. Although the Bulldogs added two scores as well, the outcome was never really in question.
“I had a feeling (Brady) was going to try to simulate the same game plan that Coleman had – bring the safeties down and try to overload the box on the run and then give tight coverage,” Bowden said. “That’s what they did. They disguised their coverages a lot. The difference was tonight we won the line of scrimmage so we could just continue running the ball, moving the chains and keeping the clock going. They’ve been wing-T all year long, but tonight the show up in a different offense. We had some times where we’d bend, but we’d never break.”
The Longhorns remained undefeated in district action along with Wall, Comfort and Bangs. Early will travel to Grape Creek, where Bowden spent three years as athletic direction before taking over the Longhorn program, to face the Eagles at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“Grape Creek is a lot like the last two teams we’ve seen,” Bowden said. “They’ve got some talent, they’ve struggled, but they’ve got some good kids and they’ve got some playmakers. They’ve got some skill kids that can play. They’ve got two 6-5 receivers and two kids in the backfield that can go, so it’s going to be a deal where we’re going to have to show up and we’re going to have to win the line of scrimmage. If we can win the line of scrimmage and we continue to tackle well, then I feel like we’ve got a good chance to win the game.”
EARLY 35, BRADY 20
Brady 0 6 6 8 - 20
Early 14 8 8 7 - 35
E: Austin Isom 2 pass from Cameron Denison (pass failed), 5:16, 1st
E: Jake Fisher 6 run (Colin Walker pass from Denison), 0:50, 1st
B: Mason Bierman 10 run (kick failed), 11:01, 2nd
E: J.C. Jones sacked for safety, 2:42, 2nd
E: Fisher 33 run (kick failed), 1:05, 2nd
B: Travis Sammons 1 run (kick failed), 3rd
E: Fisher 8 run (kick failed), 3rd
E: Brandon Brownlee 1 run (Brownlee kick), 10:06, 4th
B: Bierman 15 run (Jerry Trejo pass from Bierman), 2:24, 4th
First Downs 12 17 Total Offense 212 305 Rushes-Yards 36-139 47-219
Passing Yards 73 86
C-A-I 5-12-0 8-10-0
Fumbles Lost 1 0
Penalties 5-40 10-156
Punts 5-35.4 3-41.3
B: Sammons 11-121
E: Jake Fisher 31-171, Cameron Denison 8-31, Chase Riker 2-19, Chris Moreno 1-2
B: Bierman 5-12-0-73
E: Cameron Denison 8-10-0-86
B: Sillemon 2-13, Howell 1-44
E: Charlie Tongate 4-28, Austin Isom 3-59, Colin Walker 1-(-1).