HOLLIDAY – The two Eastland-Holliday showdowns last season featured double-digit rallies and frantic finishes.
But the Mavericks’ visit to the No. 7 Eagles Friday night lacked any drama compared to the previous meetings.
Holliday gashed Eastland for 326 rushing yards and forced six turnovers in a statement-making 52-7 victory that was all but decided by halftime.
The loss drops the Mavericks to 0-2 as they’ll face another challenging obstacle next week against defending state champion Jim Ned. Afterward, Eastland coach James Morton took the blame for the 45-point setback.
“It really comes down to me,” Morton said. “I’ve got to get those guys better – it’s not them, it’s me. We’ve got to find a way. We’re young, we’ve got to find a way to make plays in critical times and stay in games.”
Holliday won this game in the trenches as it limited Eastland to 32 yards on 31 carries. The Eagles scored on seven of their first eight possessions before turning the offense over to their backups.
Eastland’s offense threw four interceptions and fumbled twice as quarterbacks Cooper Wright and Keaton Hicks continued to split time. Both were under heavy duress as Holliday brought pressure from all angles.
Eastland’s only touchdown came late in the first quarter. Holliday scored the first 14 points behind Peyton Marchand’s 1-yard TD run and Hayden Strealy’s 40-yard interception return for a touchdown.
However, the Mavericks responded with a 12-play, 76-yard drive capped off by Hunter Lee’s 1-yard touchdown run. Jared Cruz caught a key 27-yard pass from Wright on the possession.
That would be the last time Eastland was within seven points as Austin Jones started the second quarter with a 62-yard touchdown for a 21-7 lead.
The Mavericks’ final three drives of the first half ended with two picks and a lost fumble as the Eagles built an insurmountable 38-7 advantage.
“I thought once we established ourselves and got a drive, I thought we could get back into it,” Morton said. “Credit to Holliday, they do a great job. I think their offensive line was outstanding and they kept us off-balance.”
Jones led the Eagles with 98 yards and three touchdowns, while Hunter Allen added 52 yards and a score for the home team.
Wright was Eastland’s top passer, completing 8 of 12 attempts for 85 yards. Cruz had a team-high three catches for 55 yards, while Lee led the visitors with 24 yards on 12 carries.
After Jim Ned, the Mavericks close their non-district slate with Breckenridge and Sweetwater. Keeping his team believing in itself will be crucial during the difficult stretch.
“The challenge we have is we’re not getting rewarded on the scoreboard,” Morton said. “I think that’s the whole key for us – we’re young and still jelling. We have a high ceiling we can get to, we’ve just got to get better every week.”
Holliday 52, Eastland 7
Eastland 7 0 0 0 –7
Holliday 14 24 14 0 –52
H – Peyton Marchand 1 run (Sadler Germany kick), 6:58
H – Hayden Strealy 40 interception return (Germany kick), 5:54
E – Hunter Lee 1 run (Jared Cruz kick), 2:17
H – Austin Jones 62 run (Germany kick), 11:49
H – Marchand 25 run (Germany kick), 10:39
H – Germany 25 field goal, 2:36
H – Jones 2 run (Germany kick), 0:42
H – Jones 13 run (Germany kick), 7:17
H – Hunter Allen 1 run (Germany kick), 3:23
First downs: (E) 13; (H) 23
Rushing: (E) 31-32; 49-326
Passing: (E) 11-24-4, 120 yards; (H) 6-10-0, 83 yards
Punting: (E) 4-28.2; 1-34
Fumbles: (E) 2-2; (H) 2-1
Penalties: (E) 2-20; (H) 2-25
Rushing: (E) Hunter Lee 12-24; Judson Beard 2-16, Bryan Fielding 3-6, Cooper Wright 3-(-2), Preston Rose 2-(-4), Keaton Hicks 9-(-8); (H) Austin Jones 9-98, Hunter Allen 8-52, Parker Jones 8-49, Jaxx Johnson 8-38, Peyton Marchand 3-36, Collin Hays 3-27, Ethan Faulkner 4-22, Tate Mahan 1-4, J.T. DeLuna 1-4, Ray Bradley 1-3, Ethan Twilligear 1-(-1), Grant Cox 2-(-6).
Passing: (E) Wright 8-12-1, 85 yards; Hicks 3-12-3, 35 yards; (H) Marchand 6-10-0, 83 yards
Receiving: (E) Jared Cruz 3-55, Austin Rodgers 2-19, Jay Oznick 2-15, Judson Beard 2-12, Chris Smith 1-10, Jiovani Ojeda 1-9; (H) Faulkner 2-35, Hayden Strealy 1-24, Jackson Crutcher 1-11, Tristyn Berry 1-7, Parker Smith 1-6.