Sometimes, a team faced with an overpowering opponent has to go into its shell, take its medicine and live to fight another day.
For most of the first half on Friday night, the Waxahachie Indians tried hard to hang with Class 6A No. 12-ranked DeSoto in their District 7-6A opener and even got on the scoreboard late in the first half, cashing in an Eagle fumble.
But the momentum fizzled quickly as DeSoto scored a quick touchdown in the final minute of the first half, and the Eagles came away with a 55-12 win at Lumpkins Stadium.
One of the few bright spots in the game was the continued production from junior wide receiver Brandon Hawkins Jr., who hit his milestone marks for the third game in a row. On the night, Hawkins finished with 11 receptions for 178 yards and a first-half touchdown.
Already in 2019, Hawkins has 39 catches for 535 yards and seven scores, with an eighth TD on a punt return last week at Flower Mound Marcus.
“He’s an unbelievable young man and a competitor and a battler,” Indians head coach Todd Alexander said of Hawkins. “I’m always proud of that guy, the way he conducts himself. He’s a leader by example and a teammate. He’s the real deal.”
Hawkins’ performance notwithstanding, the Indians (1-3, 0-1) hurt themselves offensively with numerous dropped passes, and had a touchdown catch by Kieran Page wiped off the board by a penalty in the first half. In all, the Tribe was flagged for four personal-foul infractions.
“The bottom line tonight is, we played very undisciplined, and that’s on nobody else but me,” Alexander said. “My objective is to get that fixed.”
A scary moment occurred on the first play of the second half when senior quarterback Campbell Sullivan, already battling a sore knee, left the game after a hard sack by DeSoto’s Keith Webber.
Sullivan remained on the sideline, helmet in hand, and seemed none the worse for wear. Alexander confirmed that Sullivan was fine, but with the game already out of hand, his night was done.
DJ Hollywood, last year’s starting quarterback, came in on short notice, finished out the second half and after a sack and three incompletions, finally warmed up and finished 9-of-16 for 134 yards with a touchdown pass to Jaden Basham.
The Indians forced a punt on DeSoto’s first possession, but went three-and-out and had junior Clyde Melick’s first punt of the year partially blocked, setting up a short 31-yard Eagle drive finished off by a look-in pass from Samari Collier to Kansas pledge Lawrence Arnold — the first of touchdowns on four consecutive drives by the Eagles.
Melick in the second half would unleash a couple of boomers of 59 and 57 yards with a stiff southerly breeze at his back.
DeSoto followed with TD runs of 72 yards by Jyison Brown, nine yards by Joshua Jackson and a short plunge by DeMarcus Jackson for a 27-0 lead. In the meantime, the only Hachie first down came by penalty.
The Indians finally caught a break when DeSoto’s Collier lost the ball in the backfield and Hachie’s Jace Robinson was there to scoop it. That set up a 6-play, 57-yard drive capped by Sullivan’s 28-yard scoring pass to Hawkins, averting a shutout with 52 ticks remaining before intermission.
But the Eagles used just 42 seconds to reach pay dirt, with a 52-yard pickup on a broken play by Brown setting up Collier’s 12-yard pass to Arnold making it 34-6 at the horn.
After Sullivan left the game to start the second half, the Eagles secured the outcome with a 5-play, 88-yard drive closed out with Collier’s third touchdown pass of the night and the Eagles starters were done.
DeSoto (4-0, 1-0) amassed 628 total yards.
The Indians travel to district preseason favorite Cedar Hill next Friday, then will enjoy a bye week as the entire district will take a scheduled open date.
“DeSoto’s a good football team. We’ll see a good football team next week,” Alexander said. “We’ve got to get used to playing good football teams.”
DeSoto 55, Waxahachie 12
DeSoto 20 14 14 7 — 55
Waxahachie 0 6 0 6 — 12
D — Lawrence Arnold 8 pass from Samari Collier (Geremy Carey kick), 6:14
D — Jyison Brown 72 run (Carey kick), 4:40
D — Joshua Jackson 9 run (kick failed), 2:32
D — DeMarcus Jackson 1 run (Carey kick)
W — Brandon Hawkins Jr. 28 pass from Campbell Sullivan (kick failed), 0:52
D — Arnold 12 pass from Collier (Carey kick), 0:10
D — Jaedon Wilson 23 pass from Collier (Carey kick), 8:16
D — Joshua Jackson 51 run (Carey kick), 0:55
W — Jaden Basham 42 pass from DJ Hollywood (kick failed), 4:48
D — Bilal Muhammad 10 run (Carey kick), 0:53
Stats DeSoto Waxahachie
First downs 21 9
Rushes-yards 47-405 21-44
Passing yards 223 238
C-A-I 14-22-0 15-29-0
Punts-average 3-26.0 6-37.2
Penalties-yards 10-83 6-70
Fumbles-lost 3-1 1-1
Rushing — DeSoto: Jyison Brown 7-137, Joshua Jackson 7-98, Chris Henley 10-69, Samari Collier 7-61, Bilal Muhammad 4-33, Ashtyn Hawkins 1-9, DeMarcus Jackson 4-6, Makhi King 1-1, Javin Vining 1-0, Aaron Broughton 1-(-1), Robert Richardson 3-(-3), Daejon Currin 1-(-5); Waxahachie: Derrick Jackson 13-24, Campbell Sullivan 4-8, Brandon Hawkins Jr. 2-8, Elijah Martinez 1-7, DJ Hollywood 1-(-3).
Passing — DeSoto: Samari Collier 11-18-0 195, Daejon Currin 3-4-0 28; Waxahachie: DJ Hollywood 9-16-0 134, Campbell Sullivan 6-13-0 104.
Receiving — DeSoto: Jordan Brown 3-93, Jaedon Wilson 2-42, Ashtyn Hawkins 3-34, Lawrence Arnold 4-31, Malik Moore 1-12, Jyison Brown 1-6; Waxahachie: Brandon Hawkins Jr. 11-178, Jaden Basham 1-42, Kieran Page 2-17, Shawn Cherry 1-1.