By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
Eight seconds into the second half Friday night at Stuart B. Lumpkins Stadium, the Waxahachie Indians were staring at an 11-game losing streak.
The momentum was squarely on the sideline of Mesquite Poteet, as was a 22-point lead with 11:52 showing on the third-quarter clock. Preston Hodge then provided the first of several sparks that propelled the Indians to an unfathomable come-from-behind 53-46 victory.
“Our kids just kept playing,” Waxahachie head football coach Todd Alexander said. “That’s the bottom line. There is no fancy answer to that and we finally got some breaks.”
Hodge’s spark came when the defensive back picked up the botched extra-point snap and returned the football 85 yards. Though his two-point score only cut the Pirates lead to 39-19, it provided the Waxahachie program with a thread of hope it desperately needed.
A little over one minute of action later, Waxahachie quarterback Campbell Sullivan connected with Kieran Page for a 47-yard touchdown. It was the second of five touchdown passes for the senior signal-caller.
Cristiano Perez later added a 32-yard field goal following a defensive stand by the Indians to inch the Tribe closer, though the Pirates still led by two scores, 39-29, with 7:44 to play in the third quarter.
Each team added a passing touchdown before the quarter closed — Poteet on an 81-yard bomb from Steven Fink to Jailyn Graham (5:40, 3Q) and the Indians when Sullivan found Jaden Basham for a 47-yard score (2:32, 3Q).
The two scores kept the Poteet lead at 10 as the Indians took possession on their own 1-yard line with six seconds to play in the third quarter.
Waxahachie running back Derrick Jackson (23-94) took the first snap of the drive to the 12-yard line for a little breathing room and sent the game into the final 12 minutes.
Sullivan then carried the football 88 yards for a touchdown to start the fourth quarter. The rushing score capped the two-play 99-yard drive. It also, more importantly, pulled the Indians within a single possession, 46-43, with 11:47 to play in the fourth quarter.
Just over six minutes later, Sullivan rolled to his left and found a wide-open BJ Hawkins a couple of steps across the goal line to cap an 11-play drive that began at the Waxahachie 35-yard line. The touchdown and extra-point kick gave the Indians their first lead of the ballgame, 50-46, with 5:27 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The lead was also the first for Waxahachie since holding a 3-0 advantage early in the week one contest against Ennis.
It was the only one the Indians would need on the evening.
Following a Waxahachie interception, Perez later drilled a 36-yard field goal on fourth-and-3 to put Waxahachie on top by a touchdown, 53-46. The Indians then found themselves 2:28 from snapping their dismal 10-game skid.
But, boy, were those final two minutes and change stressful.
The Poteet offense took possession at its own 29-yard line and plenty of time remaining.
Fink quickly completed three consecutive passes to move the Pirates to the 36-yard line of the Indians. An incomplete pass was followed by a short completion, which had the Indians on their heels and Pirates facing a fourth-and-4 from the Waxahachie 34-yard line.
Poteet was then flagged for a false start before the fourth-down snap and following a timeout.
But, following the game, Sullivan recalled what happened next — and did it with a grin on face.
“I was nervous. I was nervous,” Sullivan admitted. “We saw their running back run that wheel route and they tried to throw it to him, but I saw BJ [Hawkins] and Quincy [Johnson] break on the ball and I knew we had it.”
And had it the Indians did. That final play is featured in the video below.
Passing: 23-of-34, 323yds, 5TDs
Rushing: 14-128, TD.
WHS over final 26:11: 36pts, 353yds pic.twitter.com/rTiomkqVXi
— Travis M. Smith (@Travis5mith) September 7, 2019
BY THE NUMBERS
Waxahachie scored the final 24 points in the 53-46 victory. To take it a step further, the Tribe outscored Poteet 36-7 over the final 23:52.
“We knew we could do this,” Sullivan said. “We just weren’t executing in the red zone and knew that we weren’t getting the job done on the defensive side of the ball. They (the defense) stepped up their game and we just started pushing the ball into the zone. We knew we could do it all game.”
Sullivan ended the game with 451 total yards of offense and six touchdowns. He completed 23-of-34 passes for 323 yards and five touchdowns, while also adding 14 carries for 128 yards and one score.
After the win, Sullivan was quick to tip his hat to the Waxahachie offensive line.
“[The offensive line] did the job,” he said. “We only had one sack all night and executed all night run blocking. They were opening up holes and helped us move the ball down the field.”
BJ Hawkins had a career night as a wide receiver, finishing with 13 catches for 125 yards and three touchdowns — all career-bests. Kieran Page also had a career night with six catches for 119 yards and one score. Basham added the final Waxahachie touchdown reception and finished the game with two grabs for 63 yards.
Derrick Jackson was the workhorse for the Indians, as he carried the football 23 times for 94 yards (4.1 YPC).
For the Pirates, University of Oklahoma-commit Seth McGowan finished the game with 12 carries for 104 yards and one touchdown, while Xzaveon Jeans had 11 rushes for 131 yards and a scored.
Fink tossed for a game-high 359 yards and five touchdowns on 18-of-36 passing. He also threw two interceptions.
Tristan Golightly led all receivers with 135 yards and three touchdowns on seven catches.
“Hopefully we can take this win and build on it and get that daggum monkey off of our back and move forward,” Alexander said. “This is a huge win for our program and for our kids. […] We had such a rough road last year with so much adversity and I hated that for that group. We didn’t want this group to experience the same thing over again. This is great for these kids, great for the town and I am very excited.”
He added with a sense of relief, “It feels really good. It feels really good. I might sleep tonight.”
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith