GATESVILLE — Logan Edwards caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Luke Mullins late in the first half, giving the Hornets the lead for good on the way to a 22-16 win over Hillsboro on Friday that snapped Gatesville's 14-game losing streak.
Edwards’ catch 46 seconds before halftime broke a 9-9 tie. Gatesville failed to convert the 2-point attempt, but led the rest of the way, giving second-year coach and Hornet alum Luke Howard his first victory. It also made for a festive homecoming at McKamie Stadium.
A pass interference penalty on the go-ahead drive set the Hornets up at the Hillsboro 15.
Gatesville (1-2) hadn’t won since beating China Spring 29-25 on Oct. 19, 2018.
“It obviously feels great,” said Howard. “They bought into the process all the way back into last year as it was a rough year. It’s obviously rewarding and all the credit to these guys.”
The Hornets added to their lead in the second half and then held on for their first win in 700 days.
“I told them at halftime that we need to clean it up and go out there and play,” said Howard. “I told them let's go out there clean and win this thing.”
In the third quarter, the Hornet defense kept on the gas as cornerback Lawson Mooney sacked Austin Cook, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called after the play. With 9:15 left, Hornet defensive back Jacob Baker picked off Cook to set up the offense. On Gatesville's next drive, Mullins attempted to throw a pass in the backfield, but it was batted away and fell into the hands of Eagle linebacker Saveon Spencer.
Despite the turnover, the Hornets got the ball back on a fourth-down stop with 4:33 left in the quarter.
After the turnover on downs, with 3:02 left, Mullins tossed a 47-yard pass to Edwards extend the lead to 22-9.
In the fourth quarter, the Eagles found their rhythm again with 9:21 left when Spencer, who also plays running back, found the end zone from 3 yards out to pull the Eagles within a touchdown at 22-16.
Anthony Guitierrez recovered a Gatesville fumble with 2:10 remaining to give the Eagles another chance to pull ahead. But on fourth down, with 1:19 left, Cook's pass down the deep right side of the field met the hands of Baker again to secure the win for the Hornets.
Both teams were forced to punt on their first drives. However, the Eagles were first to strike the board with 7:34 left in the opening quarter when quarterback Austin Cook rifled a 47-yard pass to wide receiver Tamarcus McGruder. A bad snap on the extra-point try kept the score at 6-0.
On the Hornets’ next drive, Hillsboro forced a fumble and defensive end Guitierrez recovered it with 7:27 left. The Hornets got the ball right back with 7:19 left when defensive lineman Cayden Mata recovered a fumble.
Gatesville capitalized with 3:35 left when running back Jason Delong found the end zone from 6 yards out. However, the Hornets had a bad snap of their own on the PAT and the score remained 6-6
The Eagles were forced to punt with 1:27 left in the first, but a bad snap set up the Hornets in Eagle territory.
In the second quarter, the Hornets kicker Luis Macias hit a field goal from 21 yard outs out to give Gatesville a 9-6 lead.
After seven minutes of both defenses forcing three-and-outs, Hillsboro kicker Ray Arellano booted a field goal from 20 yards out to tie the contest at 9 with 3:22 before the half.
The Hornets will hit the road next week when they take on 4A-D1 No. 3 Lampasas at Badger Stadium.
“We are going to stay in and compete against them,” said Howard. “Our guys want to play football and we understand they are a great opponent, but that won't diminish our approach. I think it is always a wonderful opportunity to play good teams.”
FRIDAY'S 9-4A-D2 SCORES
- Gatesville 22, Hillsboro 16
- Lampasas at China Spring, ccd.
- Robinson 35, Fairfield 21
- Salado 40, Mexia 21
- Smithville 63, Jarrell 6
- Waco Connally 14, Palestine 7