PFLUGERVILLE — Killeen came alive when it had to.
After being held scoreless by Pflugerville Hendrickson in the first half and trailing by 10 points, 17-7, with less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation, the Kangaroos exploded.
Killeen recorded the game’s final 15 points, scoring on offense, defense and special teams to secure a 22-17 victory Thursday evening.
With 9 minutes, 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Kangaroos began their rally as Noriel Gomez hit a 23-yard field goal to trim Hendrickson’s advantage to 17-10.
Then, Killeen safety Tyquan Scoby scooped up a fumble and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown, but the extra-point attempt was unsuccessful, leaving the Hawks clinging to a 17-16 lead with 6:00 remaining.
The Kangaroos forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, and they needed just three plays to capitalize as Emory Arthur broke free for a 52-yard touchdown to give Killeen (1-1) its first lead of the game with 3:58 to go. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, but it did not matter as Hendrickson was unable to score on its final two drives.
Arthur finished with a game-high 180 yards on 17 carries, while De’Van’Te Johnson, who scored on a 2-yard run in the third quarter, added 81 yards on 11 carries.
The first half started exactly the same as last year’s encounter for the Kangaroos, who were held scoreless in both contests.
Last year, the Hawks shutout Killeen in the first half, constructing a 14-0 lead before taking a 17-3 cushion into the fourth quarter. The Kangaroos rallied to create a one-score game with a minute remaining in regulation, but they could not get any closer, losing 24-17.
Thursday evening, Hendrickson (0-2) posted 10 unanswered points in the first half as things repeatedly went awry for Killeen.
After exchanging punts to open the game, the Kangaroos had a punt blocked, setting up the Hawks’ first scoring drive as they connected on a 30-yard field goal with 2:02 remaining in the first quarter.
Killeen responded by covering a 58 yards to reach Hendrickson’s 8-yard line, but the possession concluded when Gomez’s 32-yard field goal was blocked. Four snaps later, Hawks junior Allen Fernett found D.J.
Pinkerton for a 24-yard touchdown, increasing its advantage to 10-0 with 7:38 remaining in the half.
The Kangaroos’ final three drives of the second quarter ended with an interception, a punt and a field goal attempt that fell short as time expired.
Led by sophomore quarterback Roderick Norman, who completed 8 of 17 passes for 93 yards and an interception, Killeen tallied 183 total yards in the first half.
The performance comes on the heels of a disappointing debut against Round Rock Cedar Ridge last week, losing 45-14 in a miscue-filled outing. The Raiders recorded 25 unanswered points en route to a 32-6
advantage midway through the third quarter.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, Killeen accumulated a pair of turnovers to go with 17 penalties for 125 yards — almost equal to half the 272 total yards produced by the Kangaroos.
Now, Killeen turns its attention toward its final nondistrict contest.
The Kangaroos compete in their third consecutive Thursday night game next week, when they travel to Waco.
And if current trends continue, Killeen could be poised to capture its second victory.
Coming off their third straight one-win season, the Lions opened the year by losing 34-17 at West Mesquite — the only team Waco defeated in 2020.
Tonight, the Lions host Hutto (0-1) after falling to the Hippos 35-21 last season.
Additionally, the Kangaroos have history on their side, winning the previous two encounters by a combined score of 92-24 in 2018 and 2019, when the squads were both located in the same district.