By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
The magical first-ever run to the Class 6A football playoffs came to a screeching halt for the Waxahachie Indians on Friday in Temple.
The Indians had their opportunities to take the lead or remain close early in the 6A Division II bi-district contest at Wildcat Stadium in Temple. They were, unfortunately, unable to capitalize during the 38-0 loss.
Waxahachie (5-5) has now been shutout in each of its last two postseason games, dating back to a 35-0 defeat against Frisco Lone Star in the third round of the 2017 5A playoffs.
Momentum in Friday’s 6A DII bi-district championship turned in a hurry, too.
The Waxahachie defense forced a fumble of Temple quarterback Humberto Arizmendi on the Wildcats’ second offensive play.
The turnover put Waxahachie quarterback BJ Hawkins and the Indian offense at their own 38-yard line. Two plays later, Hawkins was intercepted by Marshall Grays.
The defensive back returned the INT 30 yards for the opening score with 10:52 to play in the first quarter.
The Wildcats then lined up in the swinging gate for the extra-point attempt but decided to leave it open, allowing the holder to rush ahead for an easy two-point conversion and 8-0 Temple lead.
Waxahachie was then forced to punt after a seven-play drive.
A questionable defensive holding call — initially flagged as pass interference on a clearly uncatchable ball — led to the second Wildcat touchdown. Temple scored on the ensuing snap when Arizmendi connected with Ke’Andre for a 42-yard touchdown. The score put the Indians in an early hole, 15-0, with 4:51 to play in the first quarter.
This was when disaster struck — the first time — for the Indians.
The Waxahachie offense moved into a third-and-2 situation before Shawn Cherry (19-94) busted a 54-yard run to the Temple 8-yard line. The gain came as the clock dipped under three minutes to play in the first half.
Three plays later, an early snap went off Hawkins’ leg and was recovered by the Wildcats at their own 9-yard line. The quarterback was not ready for the snap and had a man in motion.
The Waxahachie defense again stepped up to force a Temple punt.
The Indians took a second trip inside the Temple 10-yard line — this time on a 27-yard scamper by Hawkins.
Waxahachie was facing a fourth-and-4 from the Wildcats’ 34-yard line when the quarterback turned upfield.
Hawkins then had an opportunity to connect with Jaden Basham on second-and-goal, only to overthrow the wide-open senior after eluding a couple defenders.
Hawkins rushed to the 1-yard line on third down and was later sacked at the Temple 5-yard line on fourth down.
The Wildcats capped the ensuing 12-play drive with a 44-yard field goal by Aaron Wagaman.
The kick came with 2:16 to play in the first half and after the Indian defense had Temple in a third-and-20 situation. Arizmendi rushed for 36 yards to the Waxahachie 32-yard line on that third-and-long play.
The biggest highlight of the first half for the Indians came with Temple driving, facing third-and-5 and under one minute to play.
Sophomore outside linebacker Robert Hannah delivered a big hit on an otherwise wide-open Wildcat receiver to dislodge the football and save a touchdown.
The defensive play sent the game into the halftime locker room with Temple still leading, 18-0.
Both teams ran 27 plays on offense, with Temple outgaining Waxahachie 199 total yards to 132.
Penalties were not an issue, as the two combined for three penalties for 30 yards.
The two turnovers and two missed opportunities inside the Wildcats’ 10-yard line were the true difference makers.
Waxahachie received the second-half kickoff but could not do anything with the possession, even after a pass interference gave the Tribe a first down near midfield.
Temple, for all intents and purposes, put the game away on its first drive of the second half.
The Wildcats rushed five consecutive times, capped by a 33-yard touchdown run by Jalen Robinson (3-39).
The touchdown and extra-point kick put Temple on top, 25-0, with 7:02 to play in the third quarter.
Waxahachie’s lone second-half highlight came on the ensuing Wildcat possession when Xavien Thompson picked off an Arizmendi pass in the end zone late in the third quarter.
Temple added 34- and 45-yard field goals to a 37-yard Arizmendi touchdown pass to Tr’Darius Taylor for the 38-0 final.
Temple will face Rockwall Heath at McLane Stadium in Waco in the 6A DII area round.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith