Kelly Wray/For The Duncan Banner
The Duncan Banner
After seven weeks of regular season football, the Empire Bulldogs find themselves where they hoped they’d be — sitting atop District A-4 and in control of their own destiny.
Stephen Price ran for 144 yards and Dillon Twigg scored three touchdowns as Empire rolled to a 48-10 victory over Wilson on Friday at Skinny Stewart Stadium. Each Empire touchdown was 14 yards or longer, and the Bulldogs had TD jaunts of 40, 41, and 52 yards called back because of penalties.
The victory lifted Empire to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the district and sets up an upcoming two-game stretch that will likely decide the league championship.
Having already beaten Rush Springs, one of the top four teams in A-4, Empire will entertain unbeaten Ringling at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and the other top contender, Velma-Alma, on Oct. 26.
Empire and Ringling are tied for first place in A-4, with the Blue Devils holding a 60-46 advantage in district standing points. Ringling is 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the district.
The Blue Devils’ only loss came to Davis, ranked second in Class 2A, in the season opener. Ringling beat Rush Springs, 58-0, Friday.
“This is what we’ve been wanting,” fourth-year Empire head coach Tony Roberts said. “We’re legit. We have an opportunity to be district champions by winning two games at home. We have to play the two games of our lives. It won’t be easy, but we’re where we want to be.”
On Friday, Empire stuffed the running game of winless Wilson and used a big-play offense to overpower the Eagles.
Price set the tone with an 80-yard touchdown, bashing his way through the middle and up the field, on the first play of the game. The bruising junior fullback carried eight times for an average of 18 yards per attempt. He had TD runs of 64 and 52 yards called back on penalties.
Price has scored on the first play of the game twice this season. Three weeks ago, he took the first snap 50 yards to paydirt and gave Empire a quick lead on Walters.
Twigg scored on a 45-yard run and caught a 52-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tanner Shorter before the first quarter, and Empire held a comfortable 19-0 lead after opening stanza.
Early in the second quarter, shorter made a one-handed interception and raced 25 yards to the end zone to put Empire up 27-0. Then, about six minutes later, Shorter tossed a 14-yard TD pass to Freddie Larsen to more than put the game out of reach.
Twigg, one of the area’s leading touchdown makers, added a 65-yard TD punt return with 25 seconds left in the game. The sensational sophomore finished with 97 yards rushing on 8 carries. He caught three passes for 75 yards.
Tyler Robinson led Wilson with 95 yards rushing, but he needed 35 carries to amass that amount.