WAXAHACHIE, Texas — Texas High held the lead for over eight minutes against Pflugerville Hendrickson in the season opener Thursday at Waxahachie's Lumpkins Stadium.
The Tigers (0-1) took the lead early in the second half, but the Hawks (1-0) responded with back-to-back scoring possessions to secure a 21-7 win.
Texas High rolled up 164 yards rushing and 343 yards of total offense in a game where the final score didn't reflect on how even the team's matched up.
The Hawks, who rolled THS by 49 points a year ago, rushed for 166 yards and had 351 in total offense.
Tracy Cooper rushed 23 times for 133 yards to pace the Tiger ground attack, and QB Rian Cellars added 48 yards and connected on 16 of 28 passes for 179 yards, a score and two interceptions.
Safety Caleb Arnold had a pair of interceptions for THS, and Kobe Webster had seven catches for 84 yards and a score. Caden Miller added five grabs for 60 yards.
Hawk quarterback Xavier Lucio threw for 185 and two scores and ran for the third, finsihing with 73 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Arnold stopped the Hawks' first drive of the second half by intercepting Hendrickson for the second time in the game, returning this pick 24 yards to the Hawk 49.
Texas High picked up another 15 yards on a personal foul on the return, and Cellars found Webster behind the secondary for a 34-yard touchdown strike with 10:09 left in the third.
Diego Mata-Chavez's PAT gave the Tigers a 7-6 lead.
THS' defense forced back-to-back three-and-outs by the Hawks, and the next Hendrickson drive ended in a fumble, which Marquavious Fisher recovered at the Tiger 35.
A few plays later, Alfredo Cavazos intercepted a Texas High pass, and on the ensuing offensive snap Xavier Lucio hit James Hester for a 34-yard TD. A 2-point conversion put the Hawks up 14-7 with 2:04 left in the third.
Hendrickson's next drive started at the 12 after a booming punt, and the Tiger defense dropped the Hawks for a loss on consecutive plays. Terrell Hardeman caught a 52-yard bomb from Lucio, and Lucio rattled off 44 yards on the next snap for the score.
Texas High drove into the red zone twice more, but neither possession resulted in points. The first ended on an interception by Kylar Mahoney, and the other at the 10-yard line as time expired.
Comparing the first half to a year ago, Texas High made leaps and bounds of improvement.
Last season, Hendrickson opened up with a 42-0 lead over the Tigers at intermission. Thursday, the Hawks clung to a 6-0 lead.
Texas High had two TD runs erased by penalties, and a field goal attempt on the final play of the first half was wide right.
The Tigers even overcame a snafu on special teams, when a snap on a punt sailed high and pounced on to give Hendrickson the ball at the THS 9 early in the second quarter.
Three plays later, Arnold intercepted a screen pass at the 16 and returned it to the 19, thwarting the scoring opportunity by the Hawks.
Texas High went three-and-out, and Jaden Williams hauled in a 32-yard pass from Lucio for a 6-0 Hendrickson lead with 4:46 remaining in the half. The extra-point kick was blocked.
The Tigers ate up the remainder of the clock, converting a fourth-down pass to get to the Hawk 10 with seconds left before intermission. After a potential score was wiped out by holding, THS' 37-yard field goal was just off the mark.
Texas High finished the first half with 140 yards of total offense, and the Hawks managed just 99 yards — 32 coming on the one scoring play.
Cooper had a 58-yard jaunt taken off the scoreboard early in the second quarter on a holding penalty, and the high snap on the punt formation followed the flag on the same drive.