SALTILLO – Defense had carried the Saltillo Tigers to well-enjoyed 3-0 mark for the young 2009 season.
Against the Booneville Blue Devils Friday, the Tigers got fed a bit of their own poison.
Boasting a stiff defense of its own, Booneville retained its own perfect record with an 18-0 defeat of Saltillo.
“Our defense played well,” said 50-year veteran Booneville coach Jim Drewry, whose club improved to 4-0. “This was probably their best game of the year.”
With two solid defenses controlling the contest, field position was critical. And the Blue Devils dug their heels into the sloppy field and gained that important edge.
Also of note, the majority of Booneville’s running plays were of the direct snap variety – less handling of the football eliminated the potential for fumbles.
“We felt we could do that on Saltillo to win the ball game,” Drewry said. “But we’ve got to throw the football to do anything on offense.
“We were over-shooting some throws early, then we finally settled down and hit some.”
A Saltillo fumble and the Booneville passing game finally led to the first score of the contest in the second quarter.
The Devils pounced on a Tigers’ fumble on the Saltillo 20-yard line. Three plays later, Jeiron Jones connected with Drew Cristo on a simple but effective 26-yard pass, good for the touchdown.
A shanked punt set up the next score, with the Devils gaining control of the ball at the Tigers’ 26-yard line. On fourth down, Jones hit Tre Welch for a 30-yard score, and Booneville entered halftime with a 12-0 lead.
“We just couldn’t block them up front,” Saltillo coach Greg May said. “We dug a hole, and it was too deep to get out.
“Field position was critical from the start, important because both defenses were playing good.”
Both teams also failed on scoring opportunities in the first half. Booneville missed a 31-yard field goal attempt in the first period; and Saltillo saw a 60-yard run by Najee Lamarr down to the Booneville 1-yard line go without points late in the half.
Saltillo’s other scoring chance came to open the third quarter. A 15-play drive to the Booneville 19-yard line ended on downs.
Booneville tacked on its other score following a Saltillo failed fake punt. Jones ran in from 17 yards out on the Devils’ first play of the fourth quarter for the TD.
Both teams have an open date Friday night.
David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal