By Michael Finnegan / Special Contributor
ADDISON — In a game that promised offensive fireworks, ESD and Trinity Christian did not disappoint.
The two teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of total offense and 102 points, but behind a dominating ground game, ESD was able to pull away and then hang on late for 59-43 victory at Tom Landry Stadium.
The Eagles amassed 455 rushing yards, with Nakeie Montgomery doing most of the damage. The senior rushed for 310 yards on just 16 carries on his way to a five-touchdown night.
Montgomery, who has verbally committed to play lacrosse at Duke, had four touchdown runs of 40 yards or longer and also scored on a 77-yard kick-off return — all in the first half.
“Nakeie is magical,” said ESD head coach Richard Williams. “He’s such a weapon, and a threat every time he touches the ball.”
Montgomery’s first touchdown came on the opening possession for the Eagles (2-1). After quarterback Patrick Skalniak kept the drive alive with a scramble on third-and-long, Montgomery broke free on a run up the middle and scored from 42 yards out with 9:25 left in the first quarter.
The Trojans (2-1) responded quickly, driving 73 yards and tying the score when Court Walker found Jack Savage for a 7-yard score. Walker finished with 436 passing yards and five touchdowns — all to Savage.
With the benefit of running behind a massive offensive line, Montgomery and the Eagles erupted for 36 points in the second quarter.
Montgomery scored on runs of 83, 77, and 44 yards in the second quarter. His long kickoff return put ESD on top 40-23 after Savage’s second touchdown reception had cut into the Eagles lead.
“Montgomery was extremely hard to stop,” said TCA head coach Mark Howard. “You have to give them credit.”
The Eagles extended their halftime lead to 43-23 on Jackson Mechem’s 31-yard field goal with no time left in the first half. But TCA didn’t go away, despite committing five turnovers and amassing 157 penalty yards.
The Trojans scored early in the third quarter when Walker and Savage connected for the third time in the end zone. Savage caught eight passes for 93 yards while Kenny Nelson hauled in 12 passes for 230 yards.
Again, the Eagles had a quick answer. Skalniak, playing in just his second game at quarterback in place of injured starter Seth Washington, drove his team the length of the field and put ESD ahead 53-29 on an 18-yard keeper with 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
“He showed up tonight,” said Williams, whose team bounced back following a 49-7 loss to Dallas Christian last week. “He’s a tough kid who can extend plays with the run.”
With 3:30 remaining, Nelson raced 80 yards for what would have been a spectacular punt return for a score, but a penalty brought the ball back.
“That would have made it interesting at 59-49,” Howard said. “We never gave up, and a game like this prepares us for district play.”
The Trojans will have an extra week to prepare for their TAPPS district opener on Sept. 23 against John Paul II, while ESD will start SPC play next week against Houston St. John’s.