By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
Do not let the final score fool you: The Waxahachie Indians gave the state-ranked Cedar Hill Longhorns all they could handle and then some Friday night.
Waxahachie opened with a pair of haymakers and eventually carried a one-score lead, 24-21, into the halftime locker room behind quite the first-half performance by Campbell Sullivan and BJ Hawkins.
The (3-2, 2-0) Longhorns offense eventually imposed its will on the depleted (1-4, 0-2) Tribe defense, which was down six starters before the opening kickoff, for the 62-34 win.
But, again, that final score is not indicative of just how close the Indians came to a monumental upset — and you don’t have to look much farther than the three touchdowns passes from Sullivan to Hawkins for proof.
Waxahachie threw the first punch after receiving the opening kickoff. The Indians offense promptly marched to the 15-yard line of No. 20 Cedar Hill, allowing Crisanto Perez to drill a 32-yard field goal just over three minutes into the ballgame.
A missed Cedar Hill field goal then allowed the Indians offense to piece together a nine-play, 75-yard drive capped by the first touchdown pass from Sullivan to Hawkins on the evening. The Perez extra-point kick put Waxahachie on top, 10-0.
The lead could’ve grown even more after the Indians recovered the ensuing onside kick — their second attempt of the evening — and the offense moved inside the Longhorns 15-yard line.
Back-to-back sacks then forced the ball to the Longhorns 29-yard line and put the Indians in a precarious fourth-and-28 situation. The Sullivan pass to convert the yardage fell incomplete.
Cedar Hill made the Indians pay for the hiccup, needing just six plays to cover 71 yards for the 4-yard run by Kevin Young as the first quarter closed.
The Indians offense again moved the ball with relative ease, only to have a 33-yard field goal miss the mark.
Two plays later, though, Xavian Thompson intercepted a Kaldon Salter pass to put Sullivan and company back in action deep in Cedar Hill territory.
The senior quarterback needed just three plays to find pay dirt.
The 10-yard touchdown catch by Hawkins — his second on the night — with 7:55 to play in the second quarter put the Indians on top 16-7. It also pushed the junior wide receiver over the 100-yard receiving plateau (109).
The touchdown grab was the ninth of the season for Hawkins and 13th through the air for Sullivan.
The somewhat comfortable lead — or at least as comfortable as one could be against a perennial 6A power — was short-lived.
Cedar Hill marched 69 yards on five consecutive runs, capped by a 48-yard Corie Allen touchdown scamper to pull the Longhorns within a single score, 16-14.
A quick three-and-out by the Indians offense followed by a 19-yard punt return by Kevin Young put the Longhorns back in business near midfield with just under five minutes to play in the half.
Young scored a 6-yard touchdown eight snaps and one timeout later for a 21-16 Cedar Hill lead with 2:01 to play before the break.
On the ensuing Waxahachie possession, Sullivan found DJ Hollywood for a 20-yard gain to spark the eventual 11-play drive.
A few plays later, a defensive holding call moved the Indians inside the Longhorns 30-yard line. Hawkins then took a short pass to the 17-yard line with 25 ticks left on the second-quarter clock.
An incomplete pass preceded the Indians first penalty of the game. The run of miscues continued with a sack of Sullivan, forcing Waxahachie to call its final timeout with 12 seconds to play and the ball at the 33-yard line.
Sullivan then found Jaden Basham across the middle for a 28-yard gain to the Longhorns 5. Cedar Hill was forced to call a timeout with three seconds to play, as multiple defenders were caught behind the line of scrimmage with the Indians in the hurry-up offense.
The timeout played into the Indians favor.
Sullivan found Hawkins for the third time in the first half for the 5-yard touchdown and then again on the two-point attempt to send Waxahachie into the half with a 24-21 lead.
STATS AT THE HALF
The Indians out-gained the Longhorns 265 total yards to 254 over the opening 24 minutes and picked up seven more first downs (17-10).
Sullivan completed 14-of-his-30 passing attempts for 222 yards and three scores, while Hawkins had eight grabs for 144 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Cedar Hill amassed 199 yards on the ground in the half, led by the 103 yards and one touchdown on 6 carries by Allen.
The Longhorns came out of the gates on a mission in the second half, mounting a four-play drive that covered 75 yards. Allen outran the Indians defense for a 60-yard touchdown to reclaim the Cedar Hill lead, 28-24.
Each team punted on its next possession, which ultimately set the Indians offense up near midfield.
Six plays later, Sullivan found Kieran Page for a 42-yard touchdown and a 31-28 Waxahachie lead with 5:38 to play in the third quarter.
It would, unfortunately, prove to be the final time the Indians led in the ball game.
The Cedar Hill offense put together an impressive 10-play, 70-yard drive to take the last lead the Longhorns needed, 35-31, with two minutes and change to play.
That score held through the end of the third quarter, only to have the Longhorns add to it with a 58-yard pass from Salter to Hutchings with 10:12 showing on the fourth-quarter clock.
The Indians and Perez added a 30-yard field goal on the ensuing Waxahachie drive to keep things interesting, 42-34, with 5:47 to play.
A 72-yard touchdown run by Young with 5:30 to play in the fourth quarter ultimately served as the dagger in the Indians upset hopes. The score put Cedar Hill up 49-34, and the Longhorns were not finished adding to their total quite yet.
Christian Hallmon eventually added a 9-yard touchdown run (2:25, 4Q) and Isaiah Hall returned an interception 69 yards to the house (1:20, 4Q) for the 62-49 final.
The interception was just the first of the year for Hollywood (2-4, 11 yards) and just the second thrown by an Indian.
BY THE NUMBERS
Sullivan ended the game with 328 passing yards and four touchdowns on 24-of-49 passing (49%). Hawkins caught 15 of those passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns — all of which are new career-highs for the junior.
Page (3-67), Basham (4-61), Hollywood (1-20), Shawn Cherry (2-8) and Derrick Jackson (1-0) also caught passes for the Indians.
Waxahachie was eventually outgained by Cedar Hill 592 total yards to 397, as the Longhorns amassed 431 yards on the ground in the victory.
Allen led Cedar Hill in the rushing department with 11 carries for 180 yards and two scores, while Young rushed for four touchdowns and 171 yards on 16 carries.
Salter, the Cedar Hill quarterback, finished the game 10-of-15 for 161 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
The Indians will take a much-needed and hard-earned week off before returning to action on the road against Mansfield Lake Ridge for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday, Oct. 11.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith