MOORE — Both Southmoore and Mustang racked up yards through the air at will in a showdown for a playoff spot Friday night, but only Southmoore could truly run the football and that made all the difference.
While both teams passed for over 300 yards, Southmoore tailback Karltrell Henderson racked up 191 yards on the ground to help give the Sabercats a 44-14 win and a playoff-qualifying fourth-place finish in District 6A-4.
The Broncos' loss ended their season, and coaches can point to only 30 yards rushing on 27 carries as a big reason why. Mustang quarterback Frankie Edwards routinely marched his team up and down the field only to get bogged down in the red zone and at times downright pushed backward. Mustang reached the red zone on six occasions but only came away with two touchdowns.
With little threat for Mustang to run the ball, Southmoore literally lurched in the red zone using the confined space as a picking ground for turnovers, batted passes and sacks.
“It is the ‘bend don't break' mentality,” said Southmoore linebacker Jackson Stallings, who had a huge game with a couple of sacks and stop for a safety. “You always have to fight to the finish and it shows what our defense is made of with that. So we are really proud of our guys and we are going to carry this momentum into the playoffs.”
Southmoore defensive back Nick Ward was a one-man drive killer. Ward ended two different red zone scoring attempts with interceptions and got a third with just minutes remaining in the game.
“We had a big cat package we used when they got into the red zone,” Ward said. “We basically brought in an extra lineman and took out a defensive back. We knew exactly what they were going to do. I was just reading the quarterback's eyes and watching where he was going to throw it.”
Southmoore quarterback Tre Edwards was 17-for-26 passing for 301 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Southmoore improves to 7-3 on the season and 4-3 in district play. Mustang finishes the season at 6-4 and 3-4 in district.