ATLANTA, Texas – Atlanta knew it would still control its own destiny in District 7-3A Division I no matter the outcome Friday night at Rabbit Stadium. Now, Hughes Springs controls its’ destiny after upsetting the Rabbs, 32-29.
“It’s hard to put something like this win in words,” said Hughes Springs coach Chris Edwards. “We talk about it from Day One. Trust the process; believe in yourself; your teammates; your coaches; do what you’re supposed to do; hustle; and good things happen.
“Tonight was an accumulation of all that coming together. We had some things go against us, but we also had some breaks go our way. We had a lot of penalties in the first half, but made the adjustments at halftime.”
Because of injuries, Hughes Springs only had 24 players in uniform Friday night. They had eight players going both ways.
The Mustangs put together a 17-play drive in the first quarter to the Atlanta 1. A procedure penalty on fourth down forced a 25-yard field goal attempt that went awry on a high snap. The Rabbs followed with a 93-yard drive, Caleb Hamilton scoring on a 7-yard run with 9:40 left in the first half.
That lead held up for 13 seconds. That’s how long it took senior Collin Cook to return the ensuing kickoff for six points.
District 7-3A Division I tight at the top
Atlanta recaptured the lead on a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kade Wood to J.J. Fields.
Hughes Springs answered behind the bruising running of 220-pound fullback Trayvon Kennedy, who finished with 162 yards on 26 carries. Kennedy scored the touchdown, with Cook hauling in a pass for two extra points to give the Ponies a 15-14 edge at intermission.
The race to the top in 7-3A Division I was on in the third quarter. Wood completed a 31-yard touchdown pass to Fields on fourth down to put Atlanta on top, 21-15.
Two procedure penalties stalled a promising Hughes Springs drive, and Cook kicked a 30-yard field goal with 6:06 left in the third period. The Mustangs’ defense then forced a punting situation, and it was disastrous for the Rabbs with a high snap sailing over Cooper McClure’s head. McClure was tackled at his won 1.
Junior quarterback Tyson Daigle, who was filling in for injured Andrew Gaul, scored on the next play to put the Mustangs ahead, 25-21.
A fourth down pass by Atlanta at the Mustangs’ 8 fell incomplete. The Rabbs made their own defensive stand, with Cook getting off a 54-yard punt.
Nacorey Lee delivers knockout blow
Still, Atlanta had good field position near midfield. Unfortunately for the Hares, senior Nacorey Lee stole the ball from an Atlanta runner, falling forward to the Rabbs’ 40. Ten plays later Kennedy powered his way in from four yards with 3:52 left in the game.
It wasn’t over yet! Xavier Coleman returned the kickoff back to his own 49. Fields made a spectacular catch for 46 yards on the next play, and Dra Nelson scored from the 8 with 2:20 remaining.
Gustavo Soto sealed the win for Hughes Springs when he recovered an onside kick.
With Jefferson’s win over Mount Vernon Friday night, there’s a five-way deadlock for first place in 7-3A Division I.
The Mustangs finished the game with 253 yards on the ground and 302 total yards. Atlanta had 207 yards rushing, and another 184 via the airways. Nelson led the Rabbs with 118 yards on 17 carries.