Keller took a 13-10 halftime lead and stretched it into a 30-13 District 5-6A win over Haslet Eaton at Keller ISD Stadium on Thursday night.
The Indians’ Enoch Ntchobo and Nakoa Rios ran almost at will to help pace Keller, runing for 119 and 117 yards, respectively.
Sloan Henry’s passing was sufficient to keep the Eagles’ defense honest. Henry finished 9-for-16, 116 yards and a score.
Keller (5-1, 2-1) seemed to have all the momentum early, even after turning the ball over on downs at the Eaton 1 on the second series of the game.
When Henry had to leave the game when his helmet came off, Damon Smith came in and promptly took the ball around end and scored from 21 yards out for the first score.
Nakoa Rios scored again for the Indians from the 5 and Keller opted to go for 2-point conversion which failed, but they were feeling comfortable at 13-0.
Eaton (4-2, 1-2) forced a fumble on the next Keller series and quickly took advantage of the opportunity. They scored on a Massai Burks run seven plays later and drew within 13-7.
Eaton was forced to settle for a field goal with 2 seconds remaining in the half. When Dakota Lamb kicked it through, the Indians were left with just a 13-10 halftime lead. The Eagles had lined up with extra big bodies in the backfield, with the intent of going for the TD but a Keller timeout made head coach Ellis Miller reconsider the attempt.
But Keller came out in the second half and after trading 39-yard field goals, the Indians defense shut down the Eagles’ offense.
Massai Burks finished with 65 yards on just eight carries while Eaton teammate Dawson Pell added 54 yards on 17 carries. Burks scored the only Eaton touchdown on a 17-yard run.
Game was over when: After Justin White caught an 11-yard TD pass from Sloan Henry to put Keller up 23-13, Eaton fumbled the kickoff. That set up Keller at the Eagles’ 30. It took just two plays before Rios scored from 21 yards out and pushed the Indians to the final margin, 30-13.
Play of the game: Smith’s touchdown run when filling in for Henry gave a big boost to Keller.
Offensive player of the game: Either Ntchobo or Rios could hold the honors, as both running backs displayed speed and quickness. The backs took turns slicing through the Eaton defense and generating drive-sustaining first downs.
Defensive player of the game: Jarrett Hodnett, a Keller defensive lineman continued to pressure Eaton QB Kobe Freeman all night. Kayden Steen did the same, attracting attention. But the pivotal interception by Mikey Brinton is worthy of recognition, too.
Unsung hero of the game: Damon Smith, in addition to his touchdown run, also caught three passes. Receiver Justin White had four catches for 84 yards and a score, though.
Moment of the game: White’s catch in the back of the end zone was a highlight reel catch and set the tone for the win.
Stat of the Game: Keller’s offense outpaced Eaton 255 total yards to 129 in the first half.
Big picture outlook: Coming into the game, six teams in District 5-6A were locked at 1-1. The win for Keller helps push the Indians into a favorable position with a key matchup with Denton Guyer next week.
What’s next? Keller next will host Denton Guyer on Friday at 7 pm while Haslet Eaton will play host to Keller Central at Northwest ISD Stadium at 7 pm on Friday.