By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
For 12 minutes and change, the Waxahachie Indians provided their alumni base with quite the homecoming.
A four-touchdown Tiger effort in the second quarter quickly dampened those homecoming spirits though, as (2-5, 1-3) Mansfield routed (1-6, 0-4) Waxahachie, 56-30, on Friday at Stuart B. Lumpkins Stadium.
Things couldn’t have begun any better for the Indians, either. In fact, it technically hadn’t yet begun when a Mansfield kick returner allowed the opening kickoff to shoot through his hands and into the end zone. He was tackled for a safety and 2-0 Waxahachie lead without a single second running off of the clock.
The Indian offense then needed just eight plays on the ensuing drive to find pay dirt.
Senior quarterback DJ Hollywood capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to standout wide receiver BJ Hawkins. Crisanto Perez drilled the extra-point kick with 8:10 to play in the first quarter for a 9-0 Indian lead.
Following two changes of possession, the good times continued when defensive back Quincy Johnson intercepted Mansfield quarterback Christian Gibson at the Tigers 25-yard line and returned the football to the 10.
The Indians offense capitalized on the ensuing play when Hollywood hit Hawkins on a square out. The score and kick put the Indians on top, 16-0.
The touchdown reception was the 12th of the year for Hawkins, who also now needs just 116 yards for a 1,000-yard season.
Indeed, the start made for quite the homecoming for the several Waxahachie honor classes in attendance. It was, unfortunately, short-lived.
The Tigers eventually carried a 28-23 lead into the half time locker room. Mansfield had scored four-unanswered touchdowns before Blair Williams returned a Tiger kickoff 95 yards with 1:00 to play in the first half.
Statistically speaking, the game was close on paper at the break, too.
The Mansfield offense had out-gained Waxahachie 146 total yards to 135 but did have one less first down (7-6) and was being held to 2.6 yards per carry (19-50).
The Indians even had another reason to celebrate on the field during halftime, as injured quarterback Campbell Sullivan was named the 2019 homecoming king and Madi Babers — his girlfriend and standout Lady Indian volleyball player — was named the 2019 homecoming queen. Sullivan did manage to set down his crutch before the photo.
Mansfield then took over in the second half — especially the Tigers offensive line — and outscored the Indians 56-14 over the final three quarters of play. Three Waxahachie turnovers — one fumble lost and two interceptions — greatly aided that cause. The lost fumble occurred deep in the Waxahachie zone early in the third quarter, while one of the Hollywood interceptions was returned for a touchdown.
Hollywood did tack on a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, finding Kieran Page on a nice 15-yard fade into the corner of the end zone.
The touchdown cut the Mansfield lead to 56-30, which held through the final buzzer.
BY THE NUMBERS
Hollywood finished the game 17-of-27 passing for 194 yards and three touchdowns to two interceptions.
Hawkins was once again the Indians leading receiver with nine catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Page (5-72, TD) and Jaden Basham (2-26) also caught passes from Hollywood.
Waxahachie mustered just 56 total rushing yards on 17 carries (3.3 YPC), while Mansfield bullied the Indian defense for 234 rushing yards on 41 carries (5.7 YPC).
The Tigers rushing attack gained 189 of those yards in the second half on 22 carries (8.4 YPC).
Waxahachie was penalized 12 times for 103 yards, which included one sideline infraction on a cameraman.
Mansfield quarterback Christian Gibson completed 5-of-his-10 passes for 175 yards and touchdowns to Dameon Gomes (1-69) and David Godsey (1-61).
Five different Tiger ball carriers rushed for 29 yards or more, with Hunter Simmons leading the way with two carries for 60 yards and one score. Ricky Madison scored twice on his eight carries for 59 yards.
Waxahachie travels to The Gopher Bowl for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff against Grand Prairie on Friday.
The Gophers will enter the game still in search of their first win of the season following a 54-7 drubbing by DeSoto.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith