EARLY— The Early Longhorns opened District 3-3A Division I play with a 49-35 loss to the Eastland Mavericks Friday night after Eastland wore down Early with its power running game.
Early (4-2, 0-1) kept Eastland 5-10, 200-pound bruiser Brandon Fielding quiet for the first half, holding him to 31 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter, but as the game wore on Fielding wore down the Longhorns defense until breaking them down in the third quarter and ripping off 168 yards and five second-half touchdowns to give Eastland (5-1, 1-0) a 49-35 lead.
“Overall, he had some good runs and, at times, we were able to stop him and, at times, we were unable to wrap him up and bring him down and that is when we fell apart and they made big plays,” Early defensive end/tight end Ty Schafer said.
The Longhorns seemed to have the momentum early on with running back Jesson Tarrant cutting up the middle of the field for a 66-yard touchdown. Fielding returned the favor with a short burst into the end zone, but set up an Early touchdown the next drive after fumbling on the Maverick 18-yard line.
Early senior quarterback Ryan Trompler, who completed 29 of 50 attempts with four TDs, eventually found Timmy Smithson on a 5-yard touchdown reception – the first of three for Smithson. Eastland locked the score at 14 on a 5-yard touchdown by quarterback Behren Morton. Tarrant put the Longhorns on the Mavericks’ 40-yard line with a lengthy kickoff return, then scored on a screen pass from the 5-yard line to cap off the drive with 47 seconds left in the half to give Early a 21-14 lead.
“I have to give credit to the line, they were creating big holes,” Tarrant said. “We were determined and it turned out big for us sometimes. We just broke down mentally and we need to fix that.”
After trailing for much of the game, the Mavericks began to pick up steam with Fielding knotting the game at 21 with a 21-yard touchdown, then he scored again from 3 yards out to give Eastland the lead for the first time. Fielding continued pulling off big run after big run, leaving Early playing catch-up.
The Longhorns struck pay-dirt on a 45-yard touchdown reception by Smithson, then Schafer took a contested pass into the end zone after shucking off a defender then taking it 45 yards to the end zone, but it was not enough to catch the Mavericks.
The Longhorns will next face the Clyde (1-4, 0-1), which fell to Wall 28-13 Friday night, but Tarrant said Early’s loss will have them inspired the rest of the season.
“I think this loss will push us to new levels and help us win the rest of our games,” Tarrant said. “We’re going to have a lot of fire in us. It’s going to burn for a while. We should have had it. We came out in the second half and lost it. It’s going to burn for a while.”