TAG TEAM DEFENSE -- Cooper Meador (3) and Omar Barajas (15) bring down San Saba receiver Franco Franco on Friday, August 27th, as the Eagles defeated the Armadillos 42-20 to open the 2021 football season. -- 
TAG TEAM DEFENSE -- Cooper Meador (3) and Omar Barajas (15) bring down San Saba receiver Franco Franco on Friday, August 27th, as the Eagles defeated the Armadillos 42-20 to open the 2021 football season. -- RANDY MANKIN | THE ELDORADO SUCCESS
The Eldorado Eagles opened the 2021 football season with a victory on Friday, August 27th, defeating the San Saba Armadillos 42-20 at Larry Mitchel Stadium.

Separated by a year in time and 125 miles in distance, the Eagles’ 56-14 loss last year in San Saba was a distant memory when the final buzzer sounded Friday night, but not before the Armadillos made a game of it in the first half.

The two teams traded body blows in the first half and the score was tied at 20 when they left the field at halftime.

The second half was all Eldorado, however, as the Eagles notched up 22 unanswered points, all of them coming in the fourth quarter.

San Saba received the opening kickoff then scored on the first play from the line of scrimmage when Wesley Lackey caught the Eagles flat-footed and sprinted 65 to give the Armadillos a 6-0 lead.

“We could have hung our heads and quit right there, but we didn’t,” Eagles Head Coach Jon Long said after the game.

Long noted that he and his assistant coaches have been working to change the culture of the Eagles’ program, teaching the team to take pride in itself and the players to look out for one another.

“We had a blown assignment on that opening play, but we went back to our game plan and overcame it,” Long said.

Eldorado evened up the score when James Kimble scored the first of his three touchdowns. He carried the ball in from six yards out, going up and over a defender on the goal line. Jason Covarrubiaz’s extra-point try was blocked.

San Saba scored again with 19 seconds remaining in the opening stanza to take a 12-6 lead, but Eagles quarterback Korbin Covarrubiaz answered early in the second quarter when he carried the ball in for the first of his two rushing touchdowns. He also carried in the 2-point conversion to give Eldorado a 14-12 lead with 10:21 remaining the half.

Covarrubiaz scored again just two minutes later when he broke free on a 69-yard run. The 2-point try failed, leaving Eldorado with a 20-12 advantage.

The Armadillos managed to tie the score just before intermission on a 63-yard TD pass and a 2-point conversion run.

The two teams traded possessions and turnovers in the third quarter. Eldorado had a total of four giveaways in the game, including two interceptions and a pair of fumbles. San Saba gave the ball away seven times on the night.

James Kimble counted for three of Eldorado’s takeaways with a fumble recovery and two interceptions, one of which he returned 80 yards for a TD.

The Eagles posted 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Damian Romo led the charge when he hauled in a 27-yard pass from Korbin Covarrubiaz. Romo was falling backwards across the goal line as he secured the ball. Covarrubiaz ran the ball in on the 2-point try to give the Eagles a 28-20 lead with 11:37 left to play.

Then, with the Armadillos driving toward Larry Mitchel Stadium’s west end zone, Kimble stepped in front of a San Saba receiver for the interception and 80-yard return. Kaden Gonzalez caught a pass from Covarrubiaz to convert the 2-point try and give the Warbirds a 36-20 lead.

Kimble’s four-yard TD carry put an exclamation point on the game, giving the Eagles their 42-20 margin with 40 seconds left on the clock.

Covarrubiaz was Eldorado leading rusher. He gained 146 yards on 14 caries, scoring two touchdowns. He also completed 13 of 28 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown.

Nino Tambunga led the defensive charge for the Warbirds with five solo tackles, an assist and an interception. Sam Griffin also came up big on the defensive side of the ball with two solo tackles, four assists, a quarterback sack and a tackle for loss.

“The team did a good job of facing adversity,” Coach Long said. “They did a great job of handling the things that happen in the course of the game.”

“We know there are some things we need to fix, and we’ll be working on those things,” Long added. “Moving some personnel around on special teams and things like that.”

The Eagles were preparing to face the Winters Blizzards in Winters this Friday when word came on Tuesday that the game had been canceled. A COVID-19 outbreak in Runnels County forced the closure of Winters High School this week. The two teams also canceled the JV game that was scheduled to be played here on Thursday.

If Coach Long is unable to locate another opponent for this Friday, the Warbirds next opponent will be the Coahoma Bulldogs who they will host at Larry Mitchel Stadium at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 10, 2021.