Saltillo Tigers grind out first win of season

SALTILLO – Saltillo put the previous week’s heartbreak behind it and earned its first victory under new coach Pat Byrd on Friday night.
The Tigers (1-1) held off Caledonia 10-0 thanks to a two-pronged running attack and some stout defense. The victory came a week after falling to Mooreville, 17-14, on a last-second field goal.
“You just want to see them respond,” Byrd said. “Football is so much about dealing with adversity, and you get beat on a 2-second field at the end of a football game, that’s adversity. We had a good week of practice.”
There was plenty of adversity in Friday’s win, which had more mistakes than Byrd was comfortable with. A Sam Houston field goal gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead going into halftime, but Caledonia (0-2) had a couple of opportunities in the red zone only to be turned away.
Tori Gifford had an interception inside his own 10-yard line to preserve Saltillo’s 3-0 edge in the third quarter. Then, with 7 minutes, 27 seconds left in the fourth, senior tailback O’Brien Stewart ripped off an 80-yard touchdown run.
“Second half, we kind of hammered them a little bit running the football,” said Byrd. “It was a power play off tackle, blocked it pretty well, he got outside, made a good run.”
Stewart finished with 137 yards on 13 carries, while teammate Quad Freeman carried 12 times for 123 yards.
As a team, Saltillo gained 336 yards on the ground.
“It feels good for the kids,” Byrd said of the win. “We made a lot of mistakes, but the kids played with great effort, and we’ll take it. No style points, but we’ll take it.”
Saltillo plays host to Baldwyn next week. Caledonia, 0-10 last season, has lost 21 games in a row.

NEMS Daily Journal

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