EARLY — The Early Longhorns were unable to contain the Clyde passing attack and dropped their Friday night District 3-3A Division I contest to the Bulldogs at Longhorn Stadium, 72-14.
Clyde (6-0, 2-0) senior quarterback Tanner Riley and senior wide receiver Brandon Berry broke the game open in the first quarter, connecting for the Bulldogs’ first three scores including one 85-yard grab that finished the Clyde drive in just one play.
Clyde hit the half-century scoring mark with just over five minutes left to play in the first half.
For its part, Early (0-6, 0-2) dominated time of possession in the contest and was able to run the ball effectively at points. Quarterback Trace Evans struggled to find a consistent touch in the passing game, however, and suffered from several drops by Longhorn receivers. Evans finished the day 16-for-26 for 172 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Clyde scored a touchdown on nearly every possession in the contest, save for one that took the game into halftime and one at the end of the fourth quarter, a turnover on downs in Early territory. The Bulldogs never punted during the game.
The Bulldogs set the tone and opened the game with a 23-yard completion to senior receiver Kaden Clark, then capped the drive four plays later with a 16-yard touchdown to Berry, the first of his scores on the night.
Early responded with its own drive down the field, and even converted a 4th-and-7 play from the Clyde 19 yard line. The Longhorns were given new life a second time when Clyde was called for roughing the passer on another 4th-down play, but Early stalled when Hayden Turner rushed for a 1-yard loss and three incompletions followed for a turnover on downs.
Early’s first touchdown occurred early in the second quarter when Evans hit senior receiver Drew Sessler in stride down the seam for a 28-yard score. A missed extra point made the score 36-6 Clyde.
Early attempted an onside kick after that possession, but the ball took a bad hop and rolled out of bounds near midfield. Clyde, which had relied almost entirely on the passing game until that point, began running consistently during the next possession and continued to do so for the duration of the game.
Early’s second touchdown happened in the third quarter, another Sessler reception. This one came from 10 yards out and cut the deficit to 65-14 after a two-point conversion.
Clyde displayed consistent athleticism and an efficient offense during the contest. One particularly memorable play came in the second quarter, when Berry leaped and reached behind his covering cornerback to snag the ball for a 29-yard grab down to the 1.
Clyde finished the night with 592 yards of total offense, including 262 on the ground and 330 through the air. Riley, who played until halfway through the third quarter, accounted for 314 of those passing yards.
The Longhorns amassed 129 yards on the ground, split nearly evenly between Evans and Turner. Early finished the night with 301 yards of total offense.
After the game, Early head coach Blake Sandford said he was proud of his squad’s effort against one of the top-ranked teams in the state.
“Once the offense started rolling, we had quite a few yards,” Sandford said. “We moved the ball up and down the field, so I’m proud of the way the offense operated.”
Sandford said it was important to take things one play at a time when the score got out of hand.
“It would have been easy just to fold up the tent, but we stayed in it and kept trying to fight and kept trying to get first downs and kept trying to put the ball in the end zone,” he said. “You keep trying to get 1 percent better … Don’t worry about the past, don’t worry about the next play. Just this play right now.”
Sandford also praised his offensive line and said the running game was something the Longhorns could build around moving forward.
The Longhorns return to action next week when they travel north to play the Jim Ned Indians (1-6, 0-2) — who lost 21-12 at Brady Friday night.