On a cool, bone-chilling evening last Friday, both El Dorado and Liberty Ranch gunned for victory in wanting to improve their playoff fortunes. The Cougars knew if they could win their final three games they’d have a good possibility to reach the postseason.
Those chances took an early hit as the visiting Hawks scored first to take a 7-0 lead. Undaunted, Tyler Clanin, who scored three touchdowns, returned the kickoff 95 yards into the end zone and with the extra point by Brandon Eldridge, the game was knotted at 7-7.
Clanin’s touchdown returned the momentum completely to El Dorado as the Cougars took control and rolled to an impressive 35-14 victory.
“As a team we are just working to continue to improve. I was glad that I could contribute tonight and really pick the team up,” Clanin said. “Our main goal and focus now is to play well in the final two games of the season and the postseason.”
After Glanin electrified the crowd, the El Dorado defense of Zach Culp, Geofry Hamil, Logan Kirby, Talen VanCleave, Kyle Nalley, Jeremiah Romero, Clayton Jamaca, Alex Lebaron, Brandon Ollar , Shane Caraway and a host of other Cougars swarmed to the ball to make tackles and stop the Liberty Ranch offensive attack.
With the defense controlling the game, the Cougars offense dominated the game on the ground as Clanin had 114 yards rushing and Kirby chipped in with 58 hard-earned yards running inside the tackles.
The rushing attack gave El Dorado a 14-7 lead when Clanin found the end zone late in the first quarter on a run down the left sideline. The advantage increased to 21-7 as Nick Bonniksen, who threw for 116 yards on the evening, found Culp in the corner of the end zone to give the Cougars a 21-7 lead heading into halftime.
Over the course of the second half, interceptions by Culp and Hamil along with a fumble recovery by Dominic Morgan suffocated the Liberty Ranch offense
“We have continued to work hard the entire year to become a good team,” Culp said. “Our defense played great tonight and this is what it will take to make the playoffs.”
El Dorado maintained its momentum with a touchdown late in the third quarter by Kirby to make it 28-7. The Cougars and Clanin found the end zone one final time in the fourth quarter to put the finishing touch on their convincing win.
El Dorado takes on Union Mine this week.