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Season saver? Receiver-turned-QB leads WHS to victory

Indians need only to beat Mansfield on Friday for playoff berth under zone format

Daily Light report

MANSFIELD — The bottom line for the Waxahachie Indians is that as things stand now, they can slip into the back door of the playoffs with a win against Mansfield this Friday.

However, if District 11-6A happens to hold COVID-19 at bay and have a change of heart, the Tribe would need to win three in a row to get there.

With senior Brandon Hawkins Jr. calling signals on an emergency basis, the Indians came away with a 31-21 victory over Mansfield Lake Ridge on Friday night at R.L. Anderson Stadium — and the path to the postseason suddenly got a little more clear for them.

With the zoned format in place, the Indians (2-4, 1-2) only need to beat Mansfield this Friday at Vernon Newsom Stadium to secure their first-ever postseason slot in Texas’ highest classification.

However, should the district backtrack and accept the entire district schedule, the Indians would have to win their next three games against Mansfield, Waco Midway and Waco, the latter two at Lumpkins Stadium. The Dec. 4 finale against powerhouse Duncanville wouldn’t matter if the Tribe can string those victories together.

Hawkins was pressed into quarterbacking duties this week following an injury to sophomore starter Roderick Hartsfield during the third quarter of last week’s 35-10 hard-fought loss to Cedar Hill.

In Friday night’s game, Hawkins — a slot receiver by trade — made his first start at quarterback and rushed for 173 yards and one touchdown, while adding 63 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Shawn Cherry finished with 99 yards rushing and one touchdown on the ground and was also the team’s leading receiver with 35 yards and two scores.

On their second possession of the game, the Indians drove 50 yards for their first score on eight plays, and Hawkins kept from 16 yards out to put WHS on top at the 5:02 mark of the first quarter.

The Eagles tied it up late in the quarter, but the Indians erupted to take a 24-7 advantage into halftime. First, Hawkins completed his first career TD pass to Cherry from 26 yards out, then Hawkins and Cherry hooked up a second time from the 5. WHS then executed an onside kick, and that led to Clyde Melick’s 25-yard field goal as the clock hit all zeroes.

After Lake Ridge pulled to within 24-14 on the opening drive of the second half, the Tribe kept it on the ground the whole way with Hawkins and Cherry toting the mail, and Cherry’s 2-yard run with 4:23 left in the third quarter made it 31-14.

The Eagles made things interesting late with a Jaylen Holt 1-yard run and an onside kick recovery with 3:40 to go, but three incomplete passes and a sack sealed the win for the Indians, who converted a fourth-and-4 for a first down and ran out the clock.

Jace Robinson recovered a fumble for the Indians' defense.