By Connor Mullins
The Abilene High Eagles defeated the Haltom Buffaloes 35-18 on Friday night at Shotwell Stadium after three lightning delays. In a game that lasted over four hours, the win gives the Eagles a chance of sealing a top four spot in District 3-6A for playoffs.
“I thought our line blocked very well last night,” Eagles head coach Michael Fullen said. “The defense played great and it was a great team win.”
The Eagles offense, led by quarterback Matthew Ezzell, junior, and running back Phonzo Dotson, junior, boasted 390 total yards of offense compared to the Buffaloes 293.
“Our offense came out and established the run well,” Fullen said. “We knew we needed to do that. I thought it was a good game plan and they executed it well.”
Ezzell was consistent, finishing nine of 12 for 155 passing yards and one interception. Dotson led the Eagles rushing attack boasting 18 carries for 168 yards and broke free for a 51 yard rushing touchdown on the second play of the game just 16 seconds into the first quarter. The Eagles finished the night with 41 carries for 235 rushing yards on the Buffaloes defense.
“I thought we played with a lot of energy,” Fullen said. “It’s been a battle royale all year and for the rest of the year if you win you get back in the ring and that’s what we got to do, we want to get back in that ring. So the whole district is going to be a race to the finish.”
The early momentum gained by Dotson didn’t end with his touchdown. Kicker Colton Wilson, a senior who plays multiple positions, had a short kickoff that bounced off a Haltom player and the Eagles special teams toppled on top of the ball.
“My biggest strength is being able to place the ball where I want to,” Wilson said. “The short kick was just an error on my part honestly, it was supposed to be a deep ball.”
The short kick recovered by the Eagles led to an Esai Jacques 2 yard rushing touchdown, giving Fullen’s team a 14-0 lead four minutes into the first quarter. Jacques finished the game with six carries for 36 yards and two touchdowns.
“He [Jacques] did his job,” Fullen said. “He’s waited and been patient with us. He knew he was going to get an opportunity and he got an opportunity to do it twice last night.”
The Eagles put together their most impressive win of the year against a Buffaloes team that defeated the District 3-6A champion favorite 23-20 in the Euless Trinity Trojans.
“We just had good practice and consistency,” Fullen said. “We worked on consistency and putting it all together. I told the team that nobody has seen our best yet and we were able to put all three phases [of football] together last night. When we’ve done that, we’ve won football games.”
The Buffaloes are averaging 189.3 rushing yards per game, but the Eagles defense limited the Buffaloes to 95 rushing yards.
“They [the defense] just played with good discipline,” Fullen said. “Coach Williamson makes sure they’re ready every week. We’ve played well against the run all year.”
The Eagles defense made 78 tackles and sacked Buffaloes quarterback five times. The Eagles only made 37 tackles and had no sacks against the San Angelo Central Bobcats the week prior.
“It helps that our front seven puts pressure on the quarterback,” Eagles cornerback Witt Holloway, senior said. “It helps our secondary out to have a chance on the ball when in the air.”
There were three lightning delays against the Buffaloes, but that didn’t stop the Eagles focus on gaining the win.
“We stayed focused during the lightning delays,” Eagles senior Colton Wilson, who plays multiple positions including the secondary, said. “As a team captain we just had to make sure everyone understood what was happening. We just had to know what our goal was and how important it was.”
Coach Fullen gave high praise to seniors Colton Wilson and Witt Holloway for their play this year.
“They’ve been solid, they’re solid
players,” Fullen said. “They always practice well and they’re returning
starters so I’ve been pleased with them. Their leadership has been huge and I’m
not big on giving individuals praise.”
The Eagles, 3-5 overall, 2-2 in District 3-6A play, still have a chance of making the playoffs if they defeat the Weatherford Kangaroos, 5-2 overall, 1-2 in district, this Friday at Weatherford Stadium at 7:30. The Eagles are currently fourth in district behind Trinity, Richland, and Central. The Kangaroos are last in district.
“We have to keep working on execution in all three phases,” Fullen said. “Weatherford is a good football team and it’s been proven that anybody can beat anybody on any given night. It’ll be a big game for sure.”
- Eagles senior QB/RB Eric Abbe finished with five carries for 23 yards and two rushing touchdowns
- Eagles junior QB Matthew Ezzell went nine for 12 for 155 yards and an interception. He also had three carries for 21 yards
- Eagles junior RB Alphonzo Dotson had 18 carries for 168 yards and two touchdowns and averaged 9.3 yards per carry
- Eagles senior RB Esai Jacques had six carries for 36 yards and two touchdowns
- The Eagles defense had five sacks, one fumble recovery, five deflected passes, and four quarterback hurries
- The Eagles gained all of their five touchdowns on the ground
- Buffaloes senior RB/WR Kenneth Cormier Jr. had 22 carries for 62 rushing yards and a touchdown and four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown
- Buffaloes senior QB Adam Hill went 16 of 28 for 198 passing yards and two touchdowns and 11 carries for 29 yards
- The Eagles had 41 carries for 235 yards and five touchdowns
- The Buffaloes defense had one interception, two fumble recoveries, and four deflected passes
- Buffaloes junior WR Jace Washington had 10 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown
- Eagles junior WR Frederick Johnson led the Eagles in receiving with three catches for 55 yards