PFLUGERVILLE After bending and not breaking — for the most part — all night long, the Hendrickson defense made the big plays when it needed to.
In the final 3 minutes, 14 second at The Pfield, the Hawks stopped a tying two-point conversion attempt, then forced McNeil to turn the ball over on downs after it recovered an onside kick to preserve a 28-26 District 13-6A win.
It marked the end to a wild game where Hendrickson (7-2, 6-2 District 13-6A) ran less than 20 plays in the second half, Mavericks quarterback Zane Kampfer threw the ball 61 times, Hawks quarterback Blaine Barker completed 11 passes in a row at one point, McNeil had two 100-yard receivers and nearly a third, and during a 20-second span late in the fourth quarter, the Mavericks (4-6, 3-5) scored two touchdowns and recovered two onside kicks within a 20-second span.
“It was ugly, but it was a win,” Hendrickson coach Chip Killian said. “McNeil did an outstanding job. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. Our guys in the defensive backfield were playing against three really good receivers, and we were able to come up with a couple of big plays late. We prevailed in the win; we just didn’t execute in some phases of the game.”
Hendrickson led 28-13 midway through the fourth after Donnie Newsome sprinted 86 yards for his second touchdown of the game. The drive took all of two plays and came on the ensuing possession after McNeil fumbled the ball at the Hawks 2-yard line.
It marked the start of the game’s crazy final minutes as the Mavericks responded with a quick scoring drive with Kampfer — who finished with 384 yards through the air — finding Jordan Kerley for a 5-yard touchdown pass.
McNeil recovered its onside kick, then on the next play, Kampfer hit Blake Henke for a 27-yard score to bring the Mavericks within 28-26.
Kampfer looked for Henke — who hauled in 14 passes for 189 yards — on the 2-point conversion, but the Hawks defense broke it up.
The Mavericks again recovered an onside kick and drove to the Hendrickson 30 with just over a minute left, but the Hawks defense broke up several passes and forced a turnover on downs.
“You celebrate a win any time you can, especially at the Class 6A level,” Killian said. “They certainly don’t give them away.”
Hendrickson started the game’s scoring in the first quarter when Timieone Jackson crossed the goal line from the 13.
Dre Conley plunged in from the 1-yard line later in the frame to push the Hawks’ lead to 14-0.
McNeil answered in the second quarter with a 75-yard scoring drive, with Winston Hutchison’s 2-yard touchdown run cutting the Maverick deficit in half. Zach Dickinson’s 25-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter brought McNeil to within 14-10.
The Hawks used a long kick return to set up a 7-yard, two-play scoring drive to open the third quarter as Newsome reached the end zone on a 1-yard run. Dickinson kicked his second field goal of the game, this one from 26 yards out, late in the third to set the scene for the fourth with Hendrickson leading 21-13.
Kerley finished with 13 catches for 121 yards, while Lorenzo Williams added 12 receptions for 94 yards for McNeil.
Newsome ended the game with 97 yards rushing for Hendrickson, which will get ready for the playoffs while McNeil’s season comes to an end.
“We have to get some things fixed and get some things healthy,” Killian said. “This district is a grind. To get through it without getting dinged up is impossible.”