The Weatherford Kangaroos got their first District 3-6A victory, and surpassed their 2018 win total in the process Friday night at Kangaroo Stadium, winning a 66-52 shootout with the Haltom Buffaloes to move to 5-1, 1-1 on the season.
Weatherford Head Coach Billy Mathis said the Roos were locked in mentally throughout the week, while adding that Friday’s win carried even more weight considering the competition they faced from a team which had defeated the former in each of the last two years.
“The boys were very focused,” Mathis said.
“I think the short week kind of helped us a little bit staying focused on what we needed to do. We were ready to get that loss out of our minds. We played a great Haltom team. Their running back is 220 pounds, their quarterback is 215 pounds, they’ve got a 6-5 receiver that’s 205 pounds, those guys are gonna go play at the collegiate level one day, so I was so proud of our guys for battling play in and play out, in all three phases of the game.
“I’m excited about getting the win.”
After a slow start last week which saw the team trailing San Angelo Central 28-3 late in the first half, Weatherford came out firing on all cylinders against Haltom, forcing back-to-back three and outs on the Buffaloes’ first two drives, while the offense cashed in three touchdowns, including an 8-yard TD reception from senior quarterback Ken Seals to senior wideout Rey Huang, a 38-yard TD reception from Seals to senior wideout Jorden Wheeler and a 7-yard scoring scurry up the middle of the field by junior running back Dez Forrest to go up, 21-7 after one frame.
Trailing early, Haltom quickly adopted an up-tempo (and often no huddle) approach on offense, one which helped the team pull within one score (21-14) after a 12-yard TD run with 9:52 until the half.
However, the Buffaloes’ momentum quickly fell flat after Roos’ junior tight end Nicholas Schwikal broke three tackles during a 62-yard TD reception from Seals on Weatherford’s subsequent drive less than a minute later (9:23 left until the break) to re-establish the home team’s two-score lead.
The teams swapped field goals (including a 45-yard kick by Weatherford senior Isaiahs Gomez) before Haltom pulled within striking distance once more, this time on a 1-yard TD plunge which brought the score to 31-24 midway through the second quarter.
Weatherford added another two scores, both courtesy of Forrest who scampered for 10 and 76 yards, respectively (both for touchdowns) later in the frame, while Haltom tacked on seven points of its own before the 48-point second quarter concluded with a 45-31 Roos’ lead.
Haltom’s situation began to grow dire after Forrest found pay dirt once again early in the third quarter, cutting a designed run to the left across the other side of the field for a 66 yard touchdown and 52-31 Weatherford lead with 10:38 left in the frame.
Despite a subsequent 10-yard TD quarterback keep by Haltom which pulled the team within two scores, the Buffaloes could not keep pace with the Roos, who quickly returned fire with 53-yard TD reception from Seals to Schwikal on a streak down the right sideline with 5:43 left in the frame to re-establish a three-score lead (59-38).
Weatherford’s defense capitalized on Haltom’s next drive, holding the latter on a fourth and four in Kangaroos’ territory to force a turnover on downs.
Forrest added to his prolific night with a 66-yard scoring run on the Roos’ subsequent drive late in the third to push Weatherford’s lead to 66-38, a score which stood for the remainder of the frame.
A 14-yard TD quarterback keep by Haltom early in the fourth quarter brought the team within 66-45, however, Weatherford’s special teams unit cleanly fielded an onside kick attempt by the former, eating away clock and with it, the Buffaloes’ chances of a late comeback.
A Seals’ interception at the opposing 1-yard line with 9:37 left in regulation may have given Haltom another possession, but nearly five minutes later, the team had not reached midfield, thanks to a stout defensive effort by the Roos.
Mathis said while Friday’s game did not feature many stops, Weatherford’s defense came through in the clutch when the team needed it the most.
“We went and got it when we needed it,” Mathis said.
“We made them earn every yard on that [final] drive.”
A garbage-time TD by the Buffaloes pulled the team within 66-52 with a little under three minutes remaining in the game.
However, another clean recovery by Weatherford’s special teams unit on the ensuing onside kick attempt by Haltom assured the latter would not be leaving Kangaroo Stadium with a win.
Mathis praised the play of Weatherford’s special teams unit, noting its improvement for the start of the season to now.
“We’re snapping the ball better, we’re having better holds and we’re blocking better,” Mathis said.
“Specials teams are as big a part of the game as any, and really a lot of times, special teams are what win games. Having that big 45-yard field goal was huge.”
In all, Weatherford’s offense racked up nearly 700 yards (695) and nine touchdowns.
Seals showed pinpoint accuracy, finishing 18-of-21 for 369 yards, five scores and a pick.
Forrest churned out 278 yards and four TDs on 25 carries in addition to putting up 105 receiving yards and another score on five receptions.
As a team, Weatherford averaged over 10 yards per carry and 20 yards per reception.
Schwikal led the Roos’ receiving corps with 124 yards and two touchdowns on three receptions.
Weatherford enjoys its bye next week, before returning to action against the Euless Trinity Trojans in a District 3-6A game at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at Pennington Field.