GRAND PRAIRIE — It was a painful way to find themselves eliminated from the playoff race for the second season in a row.
The Waxahachie Indians mounted a strong comeback from down 28-7 in the second quarter to tie the game at 42-all on Derrick Jackson’s 7-yard run with 6:37 left Friday night. But Grand Prairie running back Tylexius Straughter scored the go-ahead TD with just 42 seconds left, and the Indians’ final heave was intercepted in the end zone as the Gophers prevailed, 49-42, at the Gopher-Warrior Bowl.
It was the first win of the season for the Gophers, whose 49 points was more than the team had scored in its previous seven games
After Jackson’s run and Crisanto Perez’s point-after kick tied the game, Grand Prairie mounted a 78-yard, 10-play drive, converting two long third downs along the way. Straughter’s 1-yard plunge at the 42-second mark gave the Gophers the lead back.
Back came the Indians quickly with the clock ticking, and quarterback DJ Hollywood kept them alive with a fourth-down pass completion to Blair Williams to move the chains. Hollywood then found Brandon Hawkins Jr. for a 15-yard pickup, and with seconds left the Indians were in Hail Mary distance.
But Hollywood’s first pass was incomplete, and as time expired, his final toss into the end zone was intercepted by Grand Prairie’s Savion Red.
Hawkins finished with 10 catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns, and zoomed past the 1,000-yard receiving plateau. On the year, Hawkins, a junior, has 81 catches for 1,068 yards and 14 TDs, with another TD on a punt return.
Jackson, with his second triple-digit game in three outings, wound up with 125 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Hollywood shrugged off a rough first half to finish 20-of-37 for 219 yards and three touchdown passes, along with two interceptions — one at the final horn and one in the second quarter that was returned for a Grand Prairie score.
Trailing 7-0, the Indians tied the game at the 3:14 mark of the first quarter as Hollywood completed an 8-yard pass to Hawkins. But the Gophers (1-7, 1-4) reeled off three TDs in a row, including a 68-yard pick-six by Christian Cross, to go on top 28-7 with 3:03 remaining in the first half.
Then the Indians got another big play right before halftime. Three penalties in a row backed the Gophers inside their own 10-yard line, and Ira Stuckey’s fumble in the backfield was recovered by Waxahachie’s Johan Castillo in the end zone for a touchdown, cutting the deficit to 28-14.
The two teams traded blows throughout the third quarter, with Kieran Page hauling in a 35-yard pass from Hollywood and Jackson adding a short scoring run. Then after Hawkins‘ 59-yard pass from Hollywood in the first minute of the fourth quarter made it 42-35, the Indians’ special teams came through with a successful onside kick, setting up a game-tying 49-yard, 10-play drive capped by Jackson’s touchdown.
The Indians (1-7, 0-5) will close out the season with Senior Night festivities this Friday against Mansfield Summit, followed by a second trip to the Gopher-Warrior Bowl to take on South Grand Prairie on Thursday, Nov. 7.