Lee Cagle saw the orange cooler coming out of the corner of his eye.
Avoiding the ice cold shower was impossible, though.
Cagle can consider that his second birthday present of the night. Decatur High had already given its defensive coordinator his first gift.
Using relentless pressure, Decatur sacked Buckhorn quarterback Hunter Chapman seven times while holding the Bucks to 154 total yards as the Red Raiders kept their playoff hopes alive with a 38-7 win Friday night.
“That ice cold shower was rough,” said Cagle, 50, as he walked off the field. “But it sure feels nice, too.”
Chapman played under duress all night, Buckhorn’s running game sputtered after the first quarter and Decatur (4-3, 2-3 in Class 6A, Region 8) carried a shutout into the final minutes of regulation. Chapman scored the Bucks’ lone touchdown on a 2-yard run with a 1:17 remaining in the game.
Too little, too late. Decatur’s most dominant performance of the season was already in the books.
“We had a great plan, both offensively and defensively,” Decatur coach Jere Adcock said.
“This week, we changed the way we practiced, doing a few things different. Our players responded. They came out and executed. It really was a great effort.”
Decatur dominated in all three phases of the game.
Jackson Fite passed for 118 yards and three touchdowns, and the Red Raiders had seven different players combine for 222 yards on the ground.
The biggest surprise from the offense was the debut of Mark Thompson, a speedy junior who ran for 130 yards on six carries. He scored on a 76-yard run that put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter at 38-0.
The story of the night was Decatur’s defense. The unit didn’t give up any big plays against Buckhorn’s Wing-T offense, holding star running back Darian Brown to 112 yards on 27 carries.
Decatur linebacker Keith Layton said delivering a big performance on Cagle’s birthday was a priority.
“We knew it was his birthday, and we wanted to give him something to he could be proud of,” said Layton, who had two sacks. “I’d say we had a whole new mentality this week. Everyone is on the same page and we know what’s at stake. We’ve got to win out to get in the playoffs, so every game is a must win. Making sure that happens is important.”
Decatur found momentum in the second quarter. Fite threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Tibbs, and Josh Matthews scored on a 1-yard run between the tackles. The Red Raiders carried a 17-0 lead into halftime after Jackson Walraven kicked a 35-yard field goal as time expired.
“And to be honest, us being up like that at halftime, that kind of concerned me,” Adcock said. “Our kids hadn’t been in a situation like that all season, and I wasn’t sure how they would respond.”
Those concerns quickly disappeared.
Fite threw touchdown passes to Matthews (4 yards) and Harold Blades (35 yards), as Decatur pulled away in the second half.
“It was a complete game,” Adcock said. “Our kids responded well and finished the game. Getting to seven wins is something these guys have discussed, and you could tell that’s important to them tonight.
“I would say that’s the most complete performance of the season.”
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