By Travis M. Smith | Ellis County Sports Sports
A football team playing as the underdog on the road has to capitalize when afforded the opportunity, especially when deep in the opponent’s territory.
Waxahachie did not, unfortunately, do that Friday night against Mansfield Lake Ridge on homecoming night for the Eagles. The Indians were certainly afforded a few opportunities to do so in their 42-10 loss at Vernon Newsom Stadium.
Even though the two offenses were separated by just 53 total yards (372-319), consistently putting the Eagles into a short field forced the Indians to fall to 0-3 in District 7-6A and 1-5 on the season.
This one was a bit of a headscratcher too, as (3-3, 1-2) Lake Ridge limped into the game and Waxahachie came in on the heels of an impressive performance against state-ranked Cedar Hill.
The Indians will likely now need to win each of their final four ball games to make the 6A postseason for the first time in program history. It’s certainly a tall task, but not unfathomable.
The Indians began the game as the enforcers, quickly putting the Eagles into a fourth-and-long situation and taking over near midfield.
Ten plays later, and after overcoming a pair of 10-yard offensive penalties, Chrisanto Perez drilled a 35-yard field goal to put Waxahachie on top, 3-0, with 4:43 to play in the first quarter.
It was all Lake Ridge from that point on.
The Eagle offense scored on each of its ensuing possessions to go up 14-3 with 11:03 to play in the first half. Myles Featherson carried the first touchdown in from 4 yards out and Jaden Weston then rushed home from 6 yards away.
The Indians offense made what would eventually be its final gasp on the next possession.
Waxahachie quarterback Campbell Sullivan and the Indians marched inside the Lake Ridge 10-yard line on nine plays, only to have a fourth-down-and-1 run be stuffed at the line for a turnover on downs. Derrick Jackson was stopped about one-half-yard short at the 7-yard line of Lake Ridge.
Adrian Hawkins, the Lake Ridge dual-threat quarterback, would’ve capitalized with a 73-yard touchdown run a few players later…had the turf monster not have jumped up and grabbed his foot. His 58-yard carry did put the Eagles deep into Waxahachie territory.
Instead, it was Featherston who scored for the Eagles to put Waxahachie in a 21-3 hole with 4:58 to play in the first half. The 12-yard score was the second of the game for the Lake Ridge running back and capped a 5-play, 93-yard drive.
He later added a 14-yard touchdown with two minutes and change to play to send the Eagles into the halftime locker room with a 28-3 advantage.
The Indian offense began the second half with a punt and then, after forcing the Eagles into a turnover on down, fumbled on the Waxahachie side of the field.
The turnover resulted in a Lake Ridge touchdown run — this time a 10-yard rush by Hawkins — to put Waxahachie down big, 35-3, with 7:00 to play in the third quarter. It was also the fifth-unanswered touchdown for the Eagles offense.
That stat would soon change, but not until Sullivan exited with an undisclosed lower-body injury with just under six minutes to play. He had rushed for 7 yards and a Waxahachie first down prior to being helped toward the Indian sideline.
The injury brought 2018 starting quarterback-turned tight end DJ Hollywood under center.
Hollywood made the most of his opportunity 13 plays later, connecting with Jaden Basham for an 8-yard touchdown to cut the Indians deficit to 35-10. The pass-and-catch capped a 16-play, 75-yard drive with 23 ticks remaining on the third-quarter clock.
The Eagles later added a 63-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Joshua Bowie to Tameron Derrough to cap the 42-10 victory.
BY THE NUMBERS
Lake Ridge quarterback Adrian Hawkins rushed 13 times for a game-high 182 yards and one score. He also completed 8-of-his-15 passes for 76 yards and a 14-yard touchdown pass Myles Featherston.
Featherston added 10 carries for 50 yards and two scores for the Eagles.
As for the Indians, running back Derrick Jackson led the offense with 21 carries for a tough 123 yards. Preston Hodge (6-20) and Campbell Sullivan (11-13) also contributed to the Waxahachie rushing attack.
Sullivan (7-of-21) and DJ Hollywood (14-of-20) combined for 206 passing yards. Hollywood tossed the lone touchdown of the game for the Indians.
BJ Hawkins led all Waxahachie wide receivers with eight catches for 84 yards, while Kieran Page added seven catches for 75 yards and Basham had three-for-26 and one score.
Waxahachie picked up up 21 first downs to the 17 gained by Lake Ridge. Each team was flagged 10 times, with the Eagles leading in penalty yardage 94-83.
Waxahachie returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday against (1-5, 0-3) Mansfield. The Tigers were defeated by DeSoto, 43-17, on Friday.
The game will be a homecoming for the Indians and their alumni.
All photos by Kirk Holt/Ellis County Sports Sports
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith