Like most games between Calallen and Flour Bluff, there was a little bit of everything. In the first four minutes of the game, there were already three touchdowns scored. There was a pick-six, a safety by each team, and a handful of plays greater than 50 yards.
But unlike last year, it didn't take a dramatic fumble return in overtime for the 'Cats to put away the Hornets. All it took was a strong running game to take a 47-12 victory. The win clinches a playoff spot for the 'Cats heading into their bye week, needing only one more win to claim a share of the district title.
“We executed well on both sides of the ball,” Coach Phil Danaher said. “Offensively, we just ran a bunch of different looks.”
So many different looks, that Danaher even felt the need to venture outside of the playbook.
“That last touchdown we scored was a play we made up on the sideline,” he said. “I like to challenge the kids with stuff like that to see how they respond. I didn't think we'd score, though.”
Whether scripted or not, there was little the Hornets could do to slow down the 'Cats running game. Calallen ripped the Flour Bluff defense for 426 yards on the ground. Marcus Price had a fantastic night, with 213 yards and three touchdowns.
“It doesn't matter if it's a five yard run or an 80 yard run, I just want to score every play,” Price said.
Price was definitely the difference maker. But it was quarterback Preston Dorsey who got things moving with an 80 yard touchdown of his own, to answer Flour Bluff's opening touchdown, tying the game, 7-7. Dorsey would end the night with 150 yards on the ground.
The Hornets early score was the first touchdown the 'Cats' defense had allowed since their opening game against Port Lavaca. However, the defense would answer when safety Paul Castillo returned an interception for a touchdown. The return gave Calallen their first lead of the night, 14-7. They would never trail again.
Following the high tempo of the game's first three touchdowns, the Flour Bluff offense would take a steady drive to tack on a 32-yard field goal by Carlos Hernandez, making the score 14-10 late in the first quarter.
But the Calallen defense would adjust to the Hornet's early momentum and control the rest of the game, limiting the Hornets to 284 yards of offense on the night. The 'Cats were able to disrupt the Hornet's passing game with a strong pass rush led by Tate Bamert and Michael Wiser. Bammert had two sacks on the night, one which resulted in a safety.
“It's hard to simulate (Flour Bluff's) speed,” Danaher said. “Our kids did a good job adapting and taking better pursuit angles as the night went along.”
It was Price's speed that allowed the 'Cats to pull away, with a 64-yard touchdown run giving the 'Cats a 28-10 lead in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, Price and Dorsey kept the ball moving, but Price caught cramp sitting out a few plays of the drive.
“(The trainers) gave me some Alka Selzers on the sideline to help soothe the cramps away,” Price said. “It gave me a little boost to get back out their.”
His first play back on the field, he'd score on a 35-yard run, to give Calallen a 38-12 lead. He'd score again in the fourth, this time from 34-yards.
With a trip to the playoffs booked, Calallen will be idle this Friday, before the host the Alice Coyotes the following week. Having two weeks to prepare, they'll look to iron out a few wrinkles this week.
“We have to work on getting to the redzone and scoring,” Price said. “It happened a few times tonight when we couldn't finish drives. We need to fix that. If we do that against Alice, I'm sure they're going to score on that.”
“I told our kids it's an open week, but that doesn't mean we're off,” Danaher said. “We can't afford to take a step back now.”