GATESVILLE — The Gatesville Hornets overcame a slow start and the big play offense of Waco University to defeat the Trojans 28-22.

University turned the ball over early and often, fumbling four times and throwing two more interceptions. But Gatesville was unable to capitalize on this turnover dominance, escaping with victory in the closing minutes.

“We just settled in after the half and executed our game plan,” Gatesville head coach Kyle Cooper said. “The defense stepped up, and once we eliminated the big play, we were ever to run our game plan. The defense played hard and fast, and against an option offense like (University) it really puts on the pressure.”

Gatesville struck first with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Speer to Jake Kee after a methodical drive that saw it utilize all of its offensive weapons. University countered with one play — an 83-yard touchdown pass from Byron Pyburn to Randolph Jordan.

A penalty-plagued first half for University didn’t do much to slow down senior Jordan, who ran for 66 yards in addition to his leaping midfield grab that turned into a long touchdown. In a first half that he turned into a highlight reel, Jordan’s speed seemed too much for the Gatesville Hornets.

“The penalties helped us,” Cooper said. “That was something we tried to cut down on this week. We had six in the first half of our game last week, and we really wanted to stay disciplined, run our game plan, and just execute well.”

In the second quarter, Gatesville seemed to bog down with University picking up a field goal and a safety after pinning the Hornets deep in their own territory, allowing University to head into the locker room with a 12-7 lead at the half.

The third quarter was more of the same for University, which continued to have big play after big play, including a 62-yard kick return from Elijah Smith.

Gatesville, though, began to gain momentum late in the fourth, with a touchdown with 4:09 left to play, closing the scoring gap to 23-20. After a failed two-point conversion, Gatesville got the ball back after a three-and-out from University, and immediately turned the ball back over to the Trojans.

But true to their form throughout the game, University quickly gave the ball back, which allowed the Hornets to march down the field and score the go-ahead touchdown with 1:36 left to play. Following a successful two-point conversion that made the score 28-23, University then threw an interception on the following possession, icing the game for Gatesville.

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