BALDWYN – A big zero.
That’s what the Saltillo defense held the Baldwyn Bearcats to Friday night on the scoreboard.
And zero is what the Tigers have in their loss column for three games after stuffing the Bearcats 9-0 in a high quality defensive struggle.
“I’ll take it whenever I can get it,” third year Saltillo coach Greg May said. “It’s always good to get a win over a big rival.
“I told the team all week, the game was going to be won up front. Defense, that’s all their was to it tonight.”
Both squads shone most of the contest on defense, but it was the Tigers offense that set up the defense for the first score of the night.
Including a nice 32-yard gain by Desmon Hayes, Saltillo (3-0) drove to the Baldwyn 1-yard line in the first quarter. But on two plays from that close, the Baldwyn defense held Saltillo out of the end zone, turning the ball over on downs.
But that put the Bearcats (2-0), the defending Class 2A State Champions, in a hole. And on the Bearcats’ first play, the Tigers pounced, stopping Kolin Grice for a loss and a safety with 2 minutes, 43 seconds left in the first quarter.
Saltillo’s defensive effort gave its offense the most momentum it had all night.
On the Tigers ensuing possession, quarterback Drew Chisholm had a nice completion of 19 yards, and a nice, shifty scramble of 12 yards. That set up Chisholm finding Pregon Staples in the right corner of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown with 9:29 left in the half for a 9-0 lead.
“That was a big possession for our offense, after the tone was set by the safety,” May said. But I told the guys at halftime Baldwyn was a wounded giant, and we had to keep the pressure on them.”
Defense dominated the rest of the contest, and the Saltillo defense certainly keep the pressure on Baldwyn.
In the third period, the Bearcats’ offense had a glimmer of hope after a 38-yard toss from Tanner Gaines to Channing Penson. But Saltillo finally stopped the Baldwyn penetration at the 6-yard line on downs.
And in the fourth quarter, Saltillo picked up its pass rush to halt a Baldwyn drive to the Tigers’ 38 -yard line with 5:47 to play. From there, the Saltillo offense picked up its only two first downs of the second half to effectively run Baldwyn out of time.
“Our defense has kept us in games two weeks in a row,” first-year Baldwyn coach Michael Gray said. “Their defense just kept sending more people than we could block.”
David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal