Walk-off victory: Indians rally for overtime win in new head coach Tolleson’s debut

Indians rally for overtime win in new head coach Tolleson’s debut

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light
Waxahachie football players Iverson Young (2), Jayden Becks (5) and Roderick Hartsfield Jr. (1) celebrate as they walk off the field following the Indians' 28-22 overtime victory over Rowlett at Lumpkins Stadium on Friday night.

Friday night’s debut of new Waxahachie head coach Shane Tolleson at Lumpkins Stadium had all the twists and turns of a rollercoaster ride — but when the ride finally rolled to a stop, the Indians had a victory in their cap and hard-won confidence was gained.

Very little went right for the Indians in the first half with all the fumbles, false-start penalties and special-teams miscues — things Tolleson calls “SIWs,” or self-inflicted wounds. But the Tribe battled back from a 9-point deficit to force overtime, then stopped the Rowlett Eagles in the extra period for a 28-22 season-opening win.

“We calmed down in the locker room at halftime,” Tolleson said. “We’re an explosive team, and we cannot keep doing that to (ourselves) … I just knew we had it in us for four quarters. These kids want to win for this city worse than I’ve ever seen, and sometimes you get too high with the highs.”

It was a sensational debut as well for one of the newest members of the Tribe. Junior running back Iverson Young, a transfer from Red Oak, made his first appearance in Hachie green with 178 rushing yards and a 63-yard touchdown run on 20 carries.

Classmate Jayden Becks added 74 yards on 15 totes and scored twice, on a 42-yard run in the second quarter that put WHS on the scoreboard and a 1-yard fourth-down plunge late in the third quarter to tie the game.

Junior quarterback Roderick Hartsfield completed 9 of 14 pass attempts for 120 yards and one touchdown — a 25-yard pass to Keith Abney on a post pattern on the very first play of overtime.

The emotional ups and downs of the game built to a crescendo on Rowlett’s possession in overtime. The Eagles converted a long fourth down with a pass to the Indians’ 2-yard line, and on the next play Eagles running back Colton Yarbrough scored on a sweep — but the touchdown was negated by a holding penalty. Finally, on fourth down, sophomore linebacker Jermy Jackson sacked Eagles quarterback Harris Boyd, and the game was over.

“They bowed their necks,” Tolleson said of his defense. “When these kids become adults and become fathers, they’re going to know what ‘Hold the Rope’ means for their spouses. I tell them don’t worry about you or how tired you are, do your job and hold the rope and don’t let them in. And they did that.”

Rowlett added to its halftime lead with a 27-yard field goal late in the third quarter, but the Indians drove 59 yards on 10 plays, and on fourth-and-goal at the 1, Becks went up the middle for the score with 1.6 seconds on the clock. On almost an identical play, Becks scored the game-tying 2-point conversion to make it 22-all, which was how regulation ended after a scoreless fourth quarter.

“We came out and got a rhythm on offense,” Tolleson said. “We ran the ball, which was what I wanted to do in the second half, and got some key stops on defense.”

Defensively, junior Robert Hannah Jr. had an interception for the Indians. His 91-yard runback for a touchdown, however, was wiped out by a penalty.

There was a lot of settling-in to be accomplished in the first half, and it showed for both teams but especially the Indians. WHS finished the night with 12 infractions in all costing them a whopping 154 yards.

The Indians’ first two possessions ended in two punts followed by two fumbles as Rowlett scored on its first possession on a 14-yard pass from Boyd to Corey Kirkling.

But after the Eagles missed a field goal try, Becks broke loose for a 42-yard run. The point-after try was blocked, but senior Joseph Lankford alertly picked up the ball and pushed his way in for two points, giving WHS an 8-7 lead at the 8:50 mark of the second quarter.

Rowlett responded with a field goal, then a bad punt snap gifted the Eagles with the ball at the 3, which they quickly cashed in for a 17-8 lead.

Just as quickly, Young chimed in with his first touchdown as an Indian, scampering 63 yards at the 3:16 mark. But the Tribe’s special-teams struggles popped up again, as the PAT was blocked and returned for two points to make the score 19-14 at halftime.

The Indians return to action Friday night against Arlington Lamar at Cravens Field, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. Tolleson said there will be lots of work on special teams in practices to correct the deficiencies and get ready for the Vikings.

“It feels good,” Tolleson said of getting his first win as a head football coach. “It’s going to be good tomorrow waking up and being 1-0.”