By Jonathan Wise
SALTILLO – Everybody knows Saltillo will try to ride bruising tailback Diamante Pounds, but on Friday night the Tigers showed they can win in other ways.
Pounds still got a substantial workload, but the Saltillo defense dominated the contest and scored 16 points on the way to a 39-7 blowout win over Pontotoc.
“We smothered them a little bit early, and that’s what we needed to do,” said Saltillo coach Pat Byrd. “We improved this week, and that’s the main thing.”
After Pounds capped an 11-play, 80-yard opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown, the Saltillo stoppers put up safeties on the next two Warrior possessions. The Tigers allowed Pontotoc a mere one first down on their way to a 22-0 halftime lead.
Saltillo broke it open in the third. David Little picked off a pass and raced 55 yards to score at the 8:33 mark. Stephon Crude followed on the next Pontotoc drive with 58-yard pick-6.
“We’ve developed a knack for taking the ball away,” Byrd said. “We had two pick-6s last week too. Hopefully we can continue that trend.”
Turning Point: Saltillo linebacker Clayton King came free on a blitz with 7:52 left in the opening quarter, recording the first of two consecutive safeties and setting the tone for the game.
Point Man: Pounds had another good night with 119 yards rushing on 23 carries, including a pair of touchdowns.
Talking Point: “The players played their tails off, but we just can’t do the things we did against a great football team like that.” – Pontotoc coach Scott Brown
• Saltillo’s Drake McCarter was 2-2 in field goal attempts, with a 43-yarder in the first quarter.
• Pontotoc was held to 72 total yards in the first three quarters. They finished with 153.
• The Warriors spoiled the Tigers’ shutout bid in the final minute with a 19-yard pass from Jacob Carter to Brady Kyle.