EARLY — The Early Longhorns rebounded from a season-opening defeat to claim their first victory of the 2019 campaign, 42-14 over the Coleman Bluecats Friday night at Longhorn Stadium.
“The real key for us was the kids responded to the challenge that we put to them and bounced back,” said Early fifth-year head coach Blake Sandford.
Early (1-1) wasted little time seizing control of the contest as the Longhorns built a 22-0 lead over Coleman (0-2) by the end of the first period.
“We wanted something good to happen to us fast to get the confidence level up,” Sandford said. “The main thing for us was getting started fast. Once something good happens and we believe 'yeah, we can do this,' it just helps everybody's execution.”
The Longhorns, limited to just 42 rushing yards against Bangs in Week 1, churned out 250 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, averaging 7.1 yards per rush on 35 carries. Overall, Early generated 391 yards of total offense after mustering a mere 131 in the opener.
“We want to establish the running game this year to compliment some of the passing stuff that we do,” Sandford said. “(Offensive coordinator) Coach (Todd) Hatton and the offensive staff have done a good job getting all those guys lined up and ready to go in the running game. We've got some backs that are able to cut on a dime and find holes and the offensive line is coming off the ball and creating gaps and creases for them to be able to run through.”
Alex Jacobs rushed for a team-best 114 yards and a touchdown while Tre Beam contributed 63 yards and two scores and quarterback Brent Grooms reached the end twice as well, tallying 60 yards in the process.
Through the air, Grooms connected on 11 of 17 passes for 141 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Timmy Smithson, an all-state receiver a year ago, hauled in six receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown. Rylie Hill caught three passes totaling 13 yards while Carlos Moreno grabbed a 10-yard reception and Beam pulled down a 9-yard catch.
Defensively, Early limited Coleman to 184 yards of total offense, including 91 in the first half as the Longhorns established a 28-7 halftime cushion. The Longhorns led 35-14 after three quarters and added another score in the fourth.
“(Defensive coordinator) Coach (Daniel) Price has done an absolutely great job with the defense, from challenging our kids with pursuit angles and 11 hats on the ball to tackling,” Sandford said. “Things we needed to address we did that with the kids this week and were a lot better with our tackling. We also did a good job with film study, figuring out what Coleman does and trying to combat it and be ready for it, like their screen game.”
Gage Sikes rushed for 87 of Coleman's 165 yards on the ground, while quarterback Corbin Rosales chipped in 50 yards and scored once, and Jalen Holloway added 13 yards and a trip to the end zone.
Rosales completed just 6 of 12 passes for 19 yards with an interception. Halloway caught three passes for 6 yards, Blake Greaves added two grabs for 6 yards and Dylan Mickler hauled in a 7-yard reception.
Early hits the road for the first time next week as it ventures to Tolar (1-1), which dropped De Leon by a 23-17 count Friday, while Coleman welcomes Goldthwaite (1-1), which is fresh off a 36-27 road triumph over Junction.
“Tolar is going to be a good team,” Sandford said. “It was a good, close game last year and I expect another tough game. We're going to have to get after it. We'll have to play hard, play our best and see what happens.”