By TONY EIERDAM
No. 6 Graham racked up 543 total yards and scored touchdowns three different ways as the Steers defeated the Mineral Wells Rams, 51-7, Friday night in the season opener at Ram Stadium.
The Steers, winners of this past summer’s Class 3A’s seven-on-seven state championship, scored 30 points in the first quarter, including a touchdown on defense.
The Rams’ lone score came in the final quarter. Defensive end Elijuan Combs, a move in from Arlington Lamar, alertly picked up Graham backup quarterback Weston Womack’s fumble and sprinted 64 yards to the end zone.
Despite giving up 44 points in the first half, the Rams played the Steers even in the second half.
“We made some adjustments at halftime, and we kept playing hard for four quarters,” Rams head coach Chuck Lawrence said. “We just did not play well in the first half.”
MWHS came into the game shorthanded as starting running back Josh Hardee was sidelined while nursing an injury suffered in the Aug. 23 scrimmage at Azle.
But matters at running back worsened as Devon Edmond, starting in place of Hardee, had to leave the game due to injury.
“Our running game was crippled with Hardee out and with Edmond going down, so about all we could do is throw the football,” Lawrence said. “It was just a bad night. But the kids never quit and we got a great play from Elijuan (Combs) on his (touchdown) play. We got three turnovers defensively, but most of the time we couldn’t get off the field.”
Graham scored on its first three drives. After Fidel Herrera opened the scoring with a 27-yard field goal, Steers running back Dillon Gonzales, the game’s leading rusher, scored untouched on a one-yard run off left tackle.
Graham all-state quarterback Ben Davis led a second touchdown drive when he connected with Gonzales on a swing pass that went for 32 yards and a score.