Facing a 21-point deficit and forced to turn the ball over on downs at Wall’s 18-yard line with 6:23 left in the third quarter, Sweet-water’s hopes of a miracle comeback appeared to be dead here Friday night.
But 21-point leads aren’t what they used to be, and it wasn’t long until the Mus-tangs were poised to pull off that miracle after cutting Wall’s lead to 35-28 with 8:13 to play.
Then the Hawks (4-0) — who are ranked No. 5 in Class 2A — pulled off the biggest play of the game. Facing fourth-and-two from its 38, Wall went for it and the gamble worked, resultting in a first down on a 7-yard toss play to running back Brent Matschek.
Quarterback Luke Dacy, who made the pitch, capped the drive by scoring on a 38-yard run with 4:03 left, and the Hawks were on their way to a 42-28 win over the Mustangs.
For Sweetwater (2-2), the game was yet another roller-coaster ride that saw the Mustangs lead just once — at 7-6 in the first quarter. But Sweetwater also fought back twice from double-digit deficits to keep the game interesting.
Wall didn’t clinch the win until stopping Sweetwater on a fourth-down pass from midfield with 2:42 left, then keeping possession with a first-down run by Matschek on fourth-and-7 that allowed the Hawks to run out the clock.
Wall scored with just 14 seconds left before halftime on a 15-yard Dacy run to open a 28-14 lead, and Dacy made it 35-14 by ending the opening drive of the third quarter with a 1-yard dive.
The Hawks then stopped Sweetwater on fourth-and-1 from Wall’s 18, but the fun was just beginning.
Sweetwater’s defense rose to the occasion and forced the Hawks to punt on their next possession, and the Mustang offense quickly moved in for a touchdown after taking over at their 40-yard line. Quarterback Kaegan Jeffrey completed passes to Kaleb Hoover, De’andre Gatson and Colton Belew that got it to Wall’s 6, and then found Bray Amos on a timing pass to the left corner of the end zone to make it 35-21 with 1:40 left in the third quarter.
Wall converted a fourth-down run from its 46 on the Hawks’ next series, but Sweetwater fell on a fum-ble three plays later and took over at Wall’s 46.
Once again Jeffrey burned the Hawks through the air as he completed a 30-yard pass to Amos for the touch-down — Amos’ 13th of the season — to get Sweetwa-ter within one score. Mich-ael Hunt’s fourth PAT kick cut it to 35-28 with 8:13 left in the game.
But that was as close as Sweetwater would get as its two-game winning streak ended. Jeffrey had another big night, completing 20-of-32 passes with four TD throws and 295 yards. In addition to hitting Amos twice for scores, he threw a 54-yard strike to Hoover to give Sweetwater its only lead in the first quarter, and hit Isaiah McGee for an 11-yard touchdown with just under three minutes left in the half to get Sweetwater within 21-14.
Hoover, who at first jug-gled Jeffrey’s pass along the sideline before finally gath-ering it and outrunning his defender to the end zone, and Amos each had six re-ceptions to pace Sweetwater while McGee finished with four catches for 62 yards. Jeffrey had 54 yards on 10 scrambles to pace a limited running game for the Mus-tangs, who ran just 14 times and had just 46 plays to Wall’s 70.
Dacy attempted just three passes, but ran for four touchdowns and had a game-high 148 yards rushing, two more than Matschek, who scored on a 3-yard run for Wall on its opening possession. Clint Masters also scored for the Hawks, who rushed for 425 yards in the game.
Sweetwater coach Shane Mobley said he never lost hope, even after Sweetwa-ter fell behind by 21 points.
“I thought we were still in it,” he said. “We’re not going to fold. We told our kids to keep getting after it and to keep fighting.
“At the end of the day, even though we lost by 14, I’m proud of our kids.”
Mobley said he wasn’t surprised that Wall went for it from its 38 in the fourth quarter with just a seven-point lead. “They have mul-tiple threats,” he said. “We had a kid there ready to stop (Matschek) for a loss, but he made a good move to get around him. That’s the reason they’re a good football team.”
Sweetwater will complete non-district play by hosting Brownwood this Friday before getting a week off.