HOOKS, Texas – Nobody outside of Hooks was showing the Hornets much respect going into the 2019 high school football season.
That changed dramatically Friday night at Hornet Stadium when senior quarterback Mason Vasquez scored with 46 seconds left to give Hooks a 42-35 victory over preseason favorite Atlanta. The win makes the Hornets the undisputed champion of District 7-3A Division I after being picked fifth in the early polls. It also eliminated Atlanta’s playoff hopes.
“Hats off to Atlanta, it was a tough game that went back and forth the whole game,” said Hooks coach Chris Birdwell. “Our goal from day one was to go out and win district. No one outside that fieldhouse thought we had a chance. I’m so proud of these kids.
“Vasquez is a good athlete, not a great athlete by measureables, but he’s got the biggest heart of any player I’ve coached in twenty years. Mason and Marquis Estell came out with something to prove tonight, and they did it.”
The 210-pound Vasquez rushed for 161 yards and 4 touchdowns, while passing for 121 yards and two TDs. It should also be noted Vasquez played most of the game on defense, too. His success rubbed off on Estell, who caught nine passes for 103 yards, while playing every down on defense.
It’s hard to imagine a tougher loss than the one Atlanta had to accept. The Rabbs trailed 28-14 at halftime, but rallied to tie the score 28-28 going into the final period.
Hooks led 34-28, and was threatening to put the game out of reach in the final five minutes. That’s when the Atlanta defense stopped the Hornets on fourth-and-goal at the 1. The officials were getting ready to measure to see if Hooks had made a first down when Atlanta was flagged three times. At first the officials ruled a first down for Hooks, but changed that call when coach Matt McClure argued his team had made the stop.
Hornets answered Atlanta’s 99-yard drive
The Rabbs promptly drove 99.67 yards in less than two minutes for a go-ahead touchdown. It appeared Atlanta quarterback Kade Wood had thrown a 64-yard touchdown pass to Terunte Neal, but Hooks had called a timeout. When play was resumed Wood found junior Caleb Hamilton running alone for a 64-yard score with 3:11 left. Daniel Hernandez’s PAT put the Rabbs on top, 35-34.
Vasquez completed two fourth down passes to Benji Johnson on the game-winning drive. The Hornets’ signal-caller mixed his own runs and passes to set up his fourth touchdown run with 46 ticks left on the clock.
Atlanta didn’t even get another opportunity, because Hooks recovered an onside kick.
Junior Davarious Clark also surpassed the century mark with 116 yards, including a 48-yarder during the Hornets’ decisive drive.
The Rabbs also had several outstanding performances. Wood rushed for 111 yards, while passing for 124. Sophomore Keith Kinney ran for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns. Hamilton also had a touchdown run, and J.J. Fields caught a 25-yard scoring pass.
Hooks now advances to the playoffs, playing Winnsboro at a site to be determined.