Tailback Ed McElroy gained306 yards and scored fivetouchdowns on the No. 2-rated team in the state.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
POLAND -- The Chaney High football team staged a tribute to the rains brought on by the remnants of Tropical Storm Isidore, deluging Poland Friday with 25 first-quarter points in stunning the Bulldogs, 38-17.
Sparked by 306 yards rushing and five touchdowns by senior tailback Ed McElroy, the Cowboys pinned the first loss of the season on Poland, the team ranked No. 2 in the state in this week's Associated Press poll of Division III teams.
"Eddie Mac -- I believe he doesn't get enough credit in the paper," Cowboys tight end Keilen Dykes said. "He's one of the best tailbacks in the state and it's about time people start realizing it. He's too under-rated."
The Bulldogs, who are the No. 4 team in Region 9, got several glimpses of McElroy -- mostly of his back -- as he sped for touchdowns of 3, 33, 48, 37 and 38 yards.
"McElroy had a career against us," Poland (5-1) coach Paul Hulea said. "He did a lot of great things and we didn't play real well early. And Chaney's a great team."
Chaney coach Ron Berdis hopes the victory generates enough computer playoff ratings points to put the Cowboys in the postseason picture.
"This puts us back in the hunt," Berdis said. "Our kids knew that this was our playoff game and we knew we had to come out and establish the line of scrimmage.
"We thought we could get our backs off, but they were really unbelievable tonight" he said.
The Cowboys (4-2) scored on their first four possessions for a shocking 25-0 lead. A shanked punt gave the Cowboys their first possession on the Poland 29.
Following quarterback Justin Hood's 9-yard touchdown run, a Poland fumble on its second possession put the Cowboys on the Bulldogs' 4 to set up McElroy's first score.
Ahead 12-0, the Cowboys' defense shut down Poland on its next two series, forcing punts and starting both drives at the Poland 48.
Shawn O'Halloran's 28-yard field goal early in the second quarter gave the Bulldogs a brief spark with a 25-3 score.
Moments later, McElroy doused it when he shed a tackler behind the line of scrimmage, then ran down the left sideline for his fourth score.
"Sometimes there's just nothing there then you shake your head [at his accomplishments]," Berdis said.
McElroy's only mistake came on his first carry of the third quarter when he fumbled at the Chaney 35.
Poland quarterback Sean Clayton connected with Jim Shurilla for a 19-yard touchdown and a 31-10 score.
But McElroy and the Cowboys responded quickly with a five-play, 90-yard march capped by McElroy's fifth touchdown.
McElroy shared the praise being showered his way.
"I give credit to my line -- they blocked real [well] tonight," said McElroy after his career-best effort. "They came out fired up and just moved the Poland players off the line. Then I ran hard."
Lost in the flood of Chaney's rushing attack (371 yards on 51 carries) was a strong second-half performance by Clayton, who completed 23 of 48 passes for 352 yards.
Anthony Fuller caught 10 passes for 166 yards, while David Koval hauled in seven for 102 yards.
Clayton's success offset Poland's non-existent rushing attack as the Bulldogs lost 18 yards on 19 carries.
"That's our key on defense -- we're a good rush-stopping team," said McElroy, who also plays defensive back.
Defensive lineman Dykes agreed.
"We've been stopping teams from rushing," Dykes said. "We wanted to make them throw the ball. The front six did an excellent job."
Berdis cited Dykes' defensive efforts as well as linemates Ed Molina, Salih Robinson and Josh Rosa.
"He's been dinged up and he's getting doubled and held, and he just keeps on coming," Berdis said of Dykes. "We knew pressure had to come from that front four, and we were able to keep our linebackers in coverage."
The lineman said the Cowboys were too pumped to be intimidated by Poland's crowd and reputation.
"When you're on TV with the [spot]lights on in one of the biggest games in the area, you can't be intimidated," Dykes said.