ROYSE CITY, Texas-After playing Gunter on even terms and near misses to regain its early lead in the first half, Hooks stumbled in the second half.
The Hornets trailed by one at intermission, but the Tigers turned up the intensity on defense and took advantage of some costly turnovers during a 45-13 win over Hooks Friday in a Class 3A, Division II area game at Royse City ISD Stadium.
Hooks' season ends at 6-6, and Gunter (12-0) advances to the regional semifinals to play Henrietta next week.
The Tigers rushed for 274 yards on the night and had four takeaways. Gunter had 335 yards of total offense, most of that coming in the second half.
The Hornets finished with 260 yards of offense but had just 7 rushing yards in the second half.
Hooks quarterback Connor Price finished 8-of-14 passing for 138 yards and two interceptions. Montrell Estell rushed three times for 78 yards and a score and caught two balls for 80 yards, a 72-yard bomb from Price setting up Malik Estell's 1-yard TD plunge with 8:38 left in the third quarter.
Dylan Jantz blocked the PAT attempt, his second block of the game. He also had an interception.
After Hooks cut it to 16-13, Gunter scored four unanswered touchdowns, including Braiden Clopton's 79-yard kickoff return 12 seconds after the last Hornet points.
Colson Stovall rushed for 113 yards and had three touchdowns to power the Tigers. QB Trey Carr scored a rushing TD and had 79 yards on 12 carries, and Clopton added 53 yards on three rushes.
It didn't take long for the Hornets to get on the scoreboard.
After winning the coin flip and taking the ball, Hooks needed just three plays to get into the end zone. Montrell Estell ran 11 yards on a reverse on the first play from scrimmage, and two plays later he got free around the right end, broke a tackle and romped 61 yards to paydirt just 1:37 into the contest.
The Tigers answered with an 11-play drive that ate up 4:47 off the clock. Jantz got three straight runs in the middle of the possession for Gunter, Carr connected with Daylan Bower for a 24-yard reception to move inside the 10, and Stovall had four straight rushes, diving in from the 1 on fourth-and-goal to cap the campaign.
Zach Lowe took a pitch to the right and wrestled his way across the goal line for the 2-point conversion to give the Tigers an 8-7 lead with 5:29 left in the first quarter.
The Hornets came right back and drove to the red zone. Price hit Marquiz Estell for a 15-yard gain to move the chains on a crucial third-down conversion, and Price ran 13 yards on an option to get inside the 10 on the next play.
Four plays later a 26-yard field goal attempt was partially blocked by Gunter's Jantz, preserving the 1-point lead for the Tigers. Gunter fumbled the ball away on the first play, but Hooks turned the ball over two plays later on a mishandled handoff.
The Tigers drove to the Hooks 30, but Seth Mahar stuffed the ballcarrier on fourth down to end the possession. Hooks marched to midfield before punting the ball back to the Tigers with 1:02 left before intermission, when the score remained 8-7.
The Hornets had 156 yards of total offense in the first half with 115 yards rushing on 16 carries. The Tigers managed 133 yards before halftime with 22 rushes for 88 yards.
Hooks 7 0 6 0 - 13
Gunter 8 0 23 14 - 45
HKS-Montrell Estell 61 run (Logan Murray kick), 10:23.
GNT-Colson Stovall 1 run (Zach Lowe run), 5:29.
GNT-Stovall 3 run (Trey Carr run), 9:24.
HKS-Malik Estell 1 run (Murray kick), 8:38.
GNT-Braiden Clopton 79 kickoff return (Nick Gonzalez kick), 8:26.
GNT-Stovall 10 run (Carr run), 1:29.
GNT-Lowe 2 run (Gonzalez kick), 6:43.
GNT-Carr 16 run (Gonzalez kick), 1:53.
First Downs 12 20
Yards Rushing 26-122 53-274
Yards Passing 138 61
Passes A-C-I 14-8-2 6-3-0
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 2-2
Penalties 4-40 6-40
Punts-Avg. 3-34.3 1-36.0
RUSHING-Hooks, Montrell Estell 4-78, Malik Estell 7-17, Phillip Dickerson 5-3, Connor Price 6-15, Seth Mahar 4-9. Gunter, Stovall 23-113, Carr 12-79, Clopton 3-53, Dylan Jantz 8-23, Lowe 2-6, Daylan Bower 1-2, Noah Williams 1-4, team 3-(minus 6).
PASSING-Hooks, Price 8-14-2-138. Gunter, Carr 3-6-0-61.
RECEIVING-Hooks, Malik Estell 4-41, Montrell Estell 2-80, Marquiz Estell 2-17. Gunter, Bower 2-45, Jantz 1-16.