Senior quarterback Michael Black rushed for four TDs and threw for another as unbeaten Haltom clinched a playoff berth by rolling over Richland, 52-13, on Friday night at the Birdville ISD Fine Arts/Athletics Complex.
Black finished with 181 yards rushing on 25 attempts, more than seven yards a carry. He rushed for two touchdowns in the first quarter and two in the fourth, throwing his TD pass in the second quarter. Black completed 8-of-16 passing and scored on runs of 15, 2, 35 and 1.
Haltom upped its record to 8-0, 4-0 in District 3-6A. Richland fell to 3-5 and 1-3.
While the rivalry between the two games is a long one – Friday was the 57th meeting between the schools – the first quarter wasn’t competitive at all. On the first play of the second quarter, Black threw a 10-yard TD pass to Jace Washington and a 32-0 Haltom lead.
Richland had lined up and snapped the ball 12 times. Two plays were called back because of penalties. A snap on a punt traveled 30 yards behind the line of scrimmage and turned into a safety. Four rush attempts gained a total of five yards. Four passing plays produced three incompletions and an interception. Richland also lost a fumble on a kickoff return. The best thing the Rebels produced was a 35-yard punt. Their net yardage was minus 30 yards.
Haltom, meanwhile, had produced nine big plays and scored four ways: an interception, a fumble recovery, a 68-yard kickoff return, a safety, a field goal, one passing TD and three rushing scores.
Game was over when: The first play of the game set the tone, as Haltom senior Decorian Mitchell caught the opening kickoff on his own eight and proceeded to return it 68 yards. The game was effectively over on the 16th play, just 4:40 into the game. On fourth down from their own 25, the Rebels snapped the ball passed QB/punter Gavin Colopy, who chased it into the end zone and kicked it out of bounds to keep Haltom from falling on it for a TD. The safety gave the Buffalos a 11-0 lead.
Play of the game: Black’s 35-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was electrifying, with the QB showing a gear the Rebels hadn’t seen. The game’s most exciting play, however, was Richland’s only a TD: a 42-yard pass from QB Tristan Garcia to WR Shamar Johnson.
Offensive player of the game: Black was the game’s biggest star, but Richland’s Johnson was impressive in catching four passes for 121 yards and a touchdown, averaging 30 yards a catch.
Defensive player of the game: Haltom junior linebacker Gavon Lange intercepted a pass on Richland’s second offensive play. His teammate, senior defensive back Keyon Shannon, intercepted two passes in the second half.
Unsung hero of the game: Richland’s Brandon Johnson didn’t produce any points, but he was the game’s workhorse. He led the Rebels in rushing, gaining 92 yards on 17 carries. Johnson also caught two passes for 20 yards.
What’s next? District 3-6A play continues next week for the Birdville rivals with two games left for both teams. On Friday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m., Haltom will host Hurst L.D. Bell at Birdville Stadium while Richland will travel to Weatherford. Haltom will finish regular season play with a trip to San Angelo Central at 7 p.m. on Nov. 9, while Richland will play Euless Trinity the same night at 7:30 p.m. at the Birdville Fine Arts/Athletics Complex.