FORT WORTH – Turnovers and called-back touchdowns were no match for a determined Rams team on Thursday night in a district win over the Diamond Hill-Jarvis Eagles, 49-7.
Penalties and an interception in the first quarter resulted in a slow start for the Ram offense, which got on the board with a Seth Slack connection to wide receiver D'ija Kennedy for a 19-yard score midway through the opening frame.
In the second, the Rams stepped on the gas with three touchdowns, including a second touchdown pass for Slack on a 33-yard catch and run by senior James Gonzales. In a shortened day for the senior quarterback, Slack threw for more than 170 yards and the two scores in the first half. For the game, he finished 9 of 18 for 182 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
“If you get those touchdowns early on it's a huge blowout,” Perry said. “But it was good because it was a tighter score and we got to keep running some stuff and didn't have to call off the dogs. We were planning a lot of one-back run, but they went to a 4-2 most of the game and with six in the box we were going to throw it. We adjusted based on what they gave us.”
The Rams scored twice more in the second to take a 28-0 lead and bust the game wide open on short runs by halfback Preston Garrett. Filling in for injured starter Khalil Thompson, Garrett powered past the goal line on carries of six and five yards. The sophomore finished with 74 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns in his first start at running back.
“We have plenty of bodies and a lot of guys that can run the ball,” said Perry, who expects the junior Thompson back next week. “Anthony Hernandez had a nice carry at running back and he's a corner.
Picking up from where they left off in the second quarter, senior defensive back Devin Hurtado opened the third by taking the Diamond Hill kickoff all the way back for an 82-yard touchdown return to make it 35-0.
The junior DB Hurtado also blocked a punt in the second quarter to give the Rams a short field and set up Garrett's first touchdown run.
The Rams' final score came with 9:29 to play in the game on a six-yard carry by junior varsity call-up Xavier Parker. Parker and a number of JV Rams held their own during second half action against Diamond Hill and, with a season-ending injury to center Trace Coe a week prior, Coach Perry is preparing for any and all scenarios. Perry also expressed the teams' thoughts and prayers for the senior Coe, who will undergo surgery to a broken leg on Friday.
“Everybody got to play,” Perry said. “We moved up a lot of guys from JV and [Parker] scored a touchdown, so there's a lot of good things we did. And we feel for [Diamond Hill]. They play with class, they play hard and their coach has done a great job with them.”
Defensively, the Rams snuffed out just about every Diamond Hill drive spending most of the game on the Eagles' side of the field. The only Eagles touchdown came late in the third quarter when the speedy wide out Victor Reyes broke loose down the right sideline and was hit in stride by QB Adrian Gutierrez for a 58-yard score.
A must-win for the Rams to maintain their third place standing in District 5-4A, the victory puts their season record at 5-4, 2-2 in conference with a matchup at home against Castleberry next Friday, Nov. 10. The loss dropped last place Diamond Hill to 0-9 overall and 0-4 in district.
“There's a lot of things going on next week,” said Perry. “It's Senior Night. We've got Heroes Night, where we'll honor our firefighters and our police officers. So, we'll have a big crowd and it's a big game for us. We've still got to get polished up on a few things, and we've got to be [firing] on all cylinders going into that [bi-district] round.”