BRECKENRIDGE – Seeking their first playoff berth since 2008, first-year head coach Daniel Price’s Early Longhorns chalked up a significant victory in the District 3-3A Division I playoff chase Friday night, 21-0 over the Breckenridge Buckaroos.
Needing to win two of their last four games against Breckenridge, Clyde, San Angelo TLCA and Wall, the Longhorns (4-3, 1-1) pitched their second shutout in the last three outing to start on the right foot.
“We knew these next four games were important,” Price said. “We’ve talked a whole about getting into the playoffs and getting an extra game and it started tonight. We told them we had to win two of them and this was the first. We’d like to make a run at the last three games and see what happens.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Early grabbed a 7-0 lead before the half and tacked on two additional touchdowns in the third period.
“We had a fourth and goal stand early in the game, then we hit a couple of big plays including a big touchdown pass in the first half,” Price said in an interview on KOXE’s scoreboard show following the game Friday night. “Then we controlled the clock in the second half running the football and had a couple of long touchdown runs. It was a lot of fun and I’m proud of the boys and proud of the coaches.”
Breckenridge (0-6, 0-2) mustered just 118 yards of total offense – 104 on the ground and 14 through the air – against the Early defense, which also created three turnovers.
“The defense was outstanding,” Price said. “Marcus Morelan, Bradon Schwartz, Cole Miller and Korbin Hall, those four down linemen answered the call. We told them all week they were going to have to be physical up front. Breckenridge likes to get in the I and come downhill and those four guys did an amazing job controlling and winning the line of scrimmage pretty consistently tonight.
“John-Stewart Gordon also had two interceptions for us tonight. When they were trying to make a comeback in the second half, our secondary did a great job. Defense wins championships and we hang our hat on our solid, experienced defense and they’re doing a great job.”
Offensively, the Longhorns produced 307 yards – 228 rushing and 79 passing – and overcame a pair of turnovers.
“We struggled a little bit in the first half offensively, we got inside the 5 and didn’t get a score, but the defense held strong,” Price said. “We have the same boys on the O-line and we just proceeded to run the football really well in the second half and we were able to put it away.”
Alex Jacobs led the way with 118 yards on 25 carries, while Tre Beam churned out 82 yards and two second-half touchdowns on nine rushes. Jaxyn Price chipped in 16 yards on four carries and Franky Villarreal finished with a 12-yard run.
Through the air, Price connected on 2 of 19 passes for 57 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. John-Stewart Gordon completed a 22-yard pass on his lone attempt.
Jacobs hauled in a 45-yard reception to start the scoring for Early in the second period, while Caydon Laird added a 22-yard catch and Jeremy Brown hauled in a 12-yard reception.
Next week, Early hosts Clyde (3-4, 2-0), which did not play Friday as San Angelo TLCA was forced to forfeit the game due to positive COVID-19 results within the football program.
“It doesn’t get any easier and that’s the fun part about being in this district,” Price said. “We’re excited about the next challenge. Clyde is going to be physical, a little more spread than what we saw in Breckenridge. They had a coronavirus shutdown this week so they’re going to have a week to heal up a little bit more than the rest of the us, but I like our chances. I like where we’re at and the way we’re playing football right now.”