One that got away: Late Cedar Hill score denies WHS
Indians dominate game for 3 ½ quarters before Cedar Hill rallies for win
CEDAR HILL — Two huge pass plays were all that separated Waxahachie from an upset victory and a major step forward for the football program Friday night.
With a golden opportunity to claim a potential home field advantage in the Class 6A Division II playoffs, Cedar Hill snatched it away with a touchdown with 1:15 left and held on for a 14-10 outcome at Longhorn Stadium.
The Indians, however, can take solace in knowing that defensively they can hang with anyone. And there will be other upset opportunities down the line.
The Indians (4-2, 2-1) remain solidly in the playoff picture and can clinch a second-straight berth by winning two of their final four games. And on Friday night, the Tribe controlled the Longhorns on both sides of the football for 3 ½ quarters.
But the deep ball twice bit the Indians as Cedar Hill quarterback Cedric Harden Jr. hit wide receiver Jairrus Nicholson on pass plays of 46 and 37 yards in the second half to set up each of the Longhorn touchdowns. Harden almost did it again on the final play of the first half, but the ball was caught and dropped at the goal line.
The Indians forced a punt and took over with 7:07 remaining, and first-down runs by Jayden Becks and Iverson Young brought the Tribe to the Cedar Hill 34-yard line.
But at that point, the drive stalled. On fourth-and-10, the Indians elected to go for it, and quarterback Roderick Hartsfield Jr. was sacked for a 13-yard loss, giving the Longhorns the ball at their own 47.
On the first snap, Harden found Nicholson deep for a 37-yard play. Five plays later, Harden almost fumbled the ball as he faked the handoff, but kept for his second rushing touchdown of the night, and the Longhorns led for the first time.
After Young’s kickoff return brought the ball out to the 37, the Indians couldn’t mount a rally and turned the ball over on a fourth-down incompletion with 33 seconds left.
Becks finished with 75 yards on 19 caries, and Young added 51 yards on 19 carries. The Indians used the run to open up the pass as the game progressed, and Hartsfield completed 9 of 18 passes for 116 yards, including a 34-yard pass to Joseph Lankford for the first points of the game with 22 seconds left in the first half.
Defensively, senior Corey King got a workout with 15 solo tackles and 17 total. Sophomore Jermy Jackson had a sack as well as senior Rolando Sierra, who left the game at the end of the first WHS offensive series.
The Indians committed no turnovers and were flagged only three times for 25 yards.
The first half was a defensive battle, but the Indians were getting the better end of it, holding the Longhorns to three first downs.
The Indians drove as close as the 3 on their first offensive series before being turned back, then after getting the ball back, drove into Cedar Hill’s red zone again before a 30-yard Jesse Garfias field goal try was blocked.
Finally, the Tribe drove 58 yards to break the ice. Hartsfield scrambled right and threaded the needle to Lankford, putting the Indians in the lead.
WHS received the second-half kickoff and upped the lead to 10-0 on a 34-yard field goal by Garfias.
Late in the third quarter, the Longhorns finally caught an offensive spark as Harden threw deep to Nicholson, who pulled in a tipped ball at the Waxahachie 13. Three plays later, Harden kept for the touchdown, and Cedar Hill was on the board.
The Indians will travel to Duncanville to face the Class 6A No. 5-ranked Panthers this Friday, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.