COLEMAN — The Early Longhorns on Friday night accomplished a feat not even achieved by the playoff teams of 2005-07 that produced a 32-11 combined record with two state semifinals berth and another appearance in the state quarterfinals — a 2-0 start.
An explosive second half on both sides of the ball led the Early Longhorns to a 41-18 victory over the Coleman Bluecats, marking the first time since 2001 that the Longhorns have won the first two games of the season.
The first half ended with Early (2-0) clinging to a 21-18 lead in rain that began and continued throughout the duration on the evening. The Longhorns' lead came courtesy of a 79-yard pass from senior quarterback Ryan Trompler, who completed 3 of 8 passes for 158 yards, to junior Timmy Smithson in the first quarter, followed by another Trompler-Smithson connection in the second quarter, including one for 80 yards. Smithson finished the game with 159 receiving yards, after hauling in seven catches for 166 yards and two scores in last week's 60-20 triumph at Bangs.
Coleman (0-2), which attempting to rebound from last week's season-opening 69-0 loss to Jim Ned, received the second half kickoff, but the drive stalled, with the Bluecats turning the ball over on downs. The Longhorns almost reached the red zone in just a few plays, but a fumble gave Coleman the ball. The Early defense allowed the Bluecats to only gain a few yards off that turnover and eventually forced Coleman to punt. On the first play following the punt, Trompler, who rushed for 135 yards, took over by faking a handoff and running 89 yards for the score. Senior kicker Brandon Lombrano kicked the PAT, giving Early a 28-18 lead.
Coleman’s next time-consuming offensive possession ended the same as the first, with Early’s defense not budging. The Longhorns once more took over on downs and again Trompler used his legs, sprinting 27 yards for another score. After the PAT, the Longhorns increased their lead, 35-18. During the third quarter, Early ran only three plays, scoring on two, and held possession for less than two minutes.
The fourth quarter saw Coleman trying to play a game of catch-up, but the Longhorn defense played stronger the longer the game went on. To avoid any turnovers, which were likely in the constant rain that fell, Early relied on its running game. On Early’s last scoring drive of the game, it was all junior Cale Wade, who ran hard, dragging defenders 3 and 4 yards at a time. Wade, who rushed for 107 yards on 11 carries, capped off the drive with a 4-yard score, sending the Longhorns home with a 41-18 victory.
Early racked up 317 yards rushing, giving the Longhorns 475 yards of total offense.
Early will be looking for its first 3-0 start since defeating Water Valley, Mason and Cisco to open the 1998 campaign as they face the Tolar Rattlers (0-2) Friday night in the home opener at Longhorn Stadium. Tolar has started the season with losses to Crawford (40-14) in Week 1 and De Leon (36-23) in Week 2.