The Tors sophomore running back Clarence Dalton wanted his senior teammates to enjoy their last homecoming night at Ball High School.
He did just that, rushing for 193 yards on 25 carries and scoring all four of Ball High’s touchdowns in the Tors’ 28-7 win over the Santa Fe Indians at home in the District 23-5A contest Friday night at Kermit Courville Stadium.
“I was just wanting to get the win tonight,” Dalton said. “I promised most of our seniors that we would win because this is their last homecoming game. I did it for the team and that was it.”
Ball High took a 21-7 halftime lead in a game in which it never trailed.
“Dalton did a great job of running the ball and showing his physicality,” said Ball High head coach Kimble Anders. “He made plays and played physically. He’s been a great addition to our run game.”
Ball High junior quarterback Martavian Jackson threw for 121 yards, going 11-of-18.
The Tors drove the ball down the field on the opening drive of the game and Dalton bulldozed his way into the end zone on a 17-yard touchdown run to give Ball High an early 7-0 lead.
The Indians managed to respond before the end of the first quarter as junior quarterback Nathan Kruger connected with senior Josh Blankenship for a 7-yard pass and both teams ended the first frame tied 7-7.
Ball High didn’t take long to jump back ahead as Dalton scored his second touchdown of the night from an 8-yard run and the Tors would miss the PAT at the 9:45 mark in the second quarter.
Santa Fe sophomore running back Nicholas McDonald had 84 yards rushing for the Indians on 13 carries.
Turnovers proved to be crucial for the Indians.
A high-snap fumble by Kruger led to a 25-yard loss as the quarterback managed to fall on the loose ball. The mistake placed the Indians back at their own 20-yard line where they were soon forced to punt.
Ball High took advantage on their next offensive drive and Dalton scored his third touchdown of the night, running the ball in from 2 yards out. Jackson’s 2-point conversion run gave the Tors a 14-point advantage with 4:59 left in the second quarter.
“Our offensive line made it work,” Dalton said. “I just took it and did what I needed tonight.”
The Indians once again struggled to hang on to the ball on the ensuing drive.
After moving the ball past midfield, a fumbled snap was recovered by the Tors with 2:39 remaining before halftime.
With a two-score lead and time ticking away in the first half, Ball High drove the ball deep into Indians territory but were forced to try for a 27-yard field goal attempt that was no good with under a minute to play until intermission.
Santa Fe got past the 50-yard line but not much farther before time expired in the first half with the Tors leading 21-7.
After both teams opened up the second half on punts, the Indians coughed up possession for the third time, fumbling at the Tors’ 36-yard line and Ball High recovered.
The Tors, however, couldn’t make the turnover into points and they were soon forced to punt.
Another fumbled snap by the Indians happened on their next offensive drive before Kruger fell on the ball at his own 3-yard line. On the ensuing play, he threw his first interception of the night and the Tors took over at the Indians’ 45 late in the third quarter.
“Turnovers and mistakes will cost you the ball game,” said Santa Fe head coach Mark Kanipes. “Ball High is a good team. They’re very physical. My hat goes off to them. They played a heck of a game. We have to play perfect to win ballgames and we didn’t tonight. We kept turning the ball over and we made mental mistakes. We have to go back to the drawing board and move on.”
But it wasn’t until there was 5:55 left in the game when Ball High scored for the first time in the second half, coming off Dalton’s 21-yard run for his fourth touchdown of the night.
Senior safety Austin Lawrence picked off Kruger with 5:00 remaining.
“We did a lot of good things tonight,” Anders said. “Our linemen were able to block and, overall, we were able to create a lot of plays on defense. We maintained the ball.”
Up next for Ball High (3-2 overall, 2-1 in district play) is a road game 1 p.m. next Saturday at Fort Bend Marshall (3-1, 2-0).
The Indians (3-2, 1-2) will travel to Galena Park (1-4, 0-3) to face the Hornets at 7 p.m. Friday.