Everything seemed to be going against Haltom when the Buffalos met Euless Trinity on Friday night in an undefeated District 3-6A matchup at Pennington Field.
Trinity had just entered as No. 9 in the latest Associated Press Class 6A state rankings; it was homecoming and the school was celebrating its 50th anniversary.
But this isn’t your grandparents’ Haltom Buffalos.
Haltom put all those to bed, beating the Trojans, 48-34. It was the most points Trinity had given up since Dec. 9, 2013.
“Coming in we knew Trinity was good and we told the kids if we executed the game plan that we’d have a chance,” coach Jason Tucker said. “If we’re in the game with them long enough and made some plays down the stretch –we could beat these guys. The kids believed that – it didn’t take any special convincing from me.”
The Buffalos (6-0, 2-0) put an emphasis on scoring first, which they did when they took the opening drive 81 yards in 12 plays. All-state quarterback Michael Black capped it off with a 1-yard keeper with 7:36 left in the first quarter.
“We always tell the offense if we lose the toss and the other team defers then they don’t mind if we have the ball first,” Tucker said. “We wanted to go out and get some points – they chose to give it to us first – let’s make sure they know that was a mistake so we like to challenge our offense that way, and they answered the bell.”
Trinity (5-1, 2-1) tried to respond, but was forced to punt after Haltom’s Johnny Smith-Rider picked up the sack. The Trojans couldn’t get the punt off and Dominique Biggins recovered the ball at the Trinity 42.
Haltom capitalized as Black scored on a 6-yard keeper to put the Buffs up 14-0 with 1:42 left in the opening frame.
“We stayed locked in the whole pregame,” Black said. “We were really focused and came out and fought hard. We got the job done.”
But Trinity wasn’t going to throw the white flag.
After the Trojans forced Haltom to its first punt, they ran four plays in 80 seconds – getting a 2-yard touchdown run from their leading rusher Brandon Theus.
Decorian Mitchell quickly silenced the Pennington home crowd when he took the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for the touchdown to put Haltom up 21-7 with 4:54 before the half.
“That was a big deal after Trinity got the momentum,” Tucker said. “We know when he gets the ball in his hands, good things can happen.”
“It pumped us up and got us right back in the mood that we were going to keep it moving,” added Black, who finished with 207 total yards and four TDs.
Trinity responded again with a 10-play, 75-yard drive as Laki Ellis hit BYU commit Keanu Hill with a 12-yard touchdown pass with 1:19 left in the second quarter.
The Trojans got the ball to start the third and took it one play to the house on Theus’ 69-yard run, but they couldn’t get the extra point off – now trailing by one point.
But Haltom had its largest lead 35-20 when Quentin Tshilombo scored on a 7-yard run and Black hooked up with Mitchell on a 21-yard TD pass.
Theus, who rushed for a game-high 293 yards, scored on one play again – from 72 – but Haltom got another TD run from Black and two field goals from Andres Alaniz, including a 47 yarder.
Haltom sacked Trinity five times, two from Caleb White and Smith-Rider, and recovered a fumble in the end zone that resulted in a touchback. Joe Castro also picked off a pass.
Kenneth Cormier rushed for 132 yards for Haltom, which hosts Abilene on Oct. 19.
Trinity travels to Weatherford in Week 8. Ellis threw for 179 yards and two TDs – one from 17 to Colby Parton late in the fourth. Hill had eight catches for 98 yards.