Tuesday, 26/1/2021 | : : UTC-5
Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

The Knights are good at fighting back

The Knights are good at fighting back


Evening Star

It’s they’re second consecutive game that the Harker Heights’ football team have come back from a two-touchdown deficit, but unlike last week, it wasn’t good enough as the Waco Lions hand the Knights their first loss of the season, 42-35.

“We made way too many mistakes,” Coach Jerry Edwards said. “We gave them seven points to start the game, we fumbled inside our own 20-yardline that resulted in a touchdown, gave up a big kickoff return that resulted in a touchdown, defense gave up two big plays to start that second half, so just a lot of mistakes against a good team that capitalized on them.”

After exchanging touchdowns in the first half, Knights found themselves down two scores near the end of the third quarter, but Harker Heights’ players fight until that buzzer sounds.

“We wanted to switch it up a little bit,” said subbing-quarterback Jaquan Tillis. “There were some turnover tonight, but I put that on me, but we’re going to fix that and come together next game.”

After both teams stalled on their opening drives, the Lions were the first to get points on the board with a defensive touchdown. When a Waco (3-0) punt and a Knights’ penalty put Harker Heights (2-1) inside their own 10, a fumble in the end zone was picked up in the by Lions’ senior Edward Coleman.

Knights answered with a rushing touchdown drive in less than two minutes. After Tillis took the quarterback keeper to midfield and Jameel Hodges ran a 38-yard rush to the 9-yardline, Knights’ Markel Rio hammered it in up the middle with 2:38 left in the first quarter and tie the game at seven.

Waco’s Ijoshawon Hamilton responded quickly by leading his team down the field, taking the ball himself all three rushes in a 67-yard touchdown drive and capped with a one-yard touchdown to give Waco back the lead.

Two plays later and it was tied again when Hodges took an option pitch around end for 57 yards and a touchdown, making it 14 all to end the first quarter.

That’s when Knights’ Andrew Piper forced the fumble at midfield with a big hit on the Lions’ running back. Two minutes later and Michael Collier capitalized on the turnover, taking it 27 yards straight down between the hashes to give Knights their only lead of the night.

Waco responded with a 12-play drive from their own 16-yardline to tie the game at 21, capped off with a three-yard rushing touchdown by Hamilton to end the first half tied.

After a delay of game penalty on the kickoff that put Waco at midfield, the Lions regained the lead in the opening drive of the third quarter with another three-play drive. This time it was Waco’s Randy Carpenter taking a run up the middle for 48 yards and a touchdown.

Waco increased their lead by 14 points after Waco senior defensive end Teyodrick Eastland took the ball away from the Knights with a fumble recovery. Hamilton capitalized on the turnover two plays later on the ground with a 21-yard touchdown to make it 35-21.

After a failed fourth-down conversion by the Knights, the defense held their own forcing a punt by Waco on their next possession. A botch snapped gave Knights’ Jalen Maxey the opportunity to recover the ball, six yards out from the end zone.

Tillis punched the ball into the end zone himself from two yards out to make it a one-score game again.

On the following kickoff, Knights’ Reese Vasquez smashed the runner and forced a fumble that allowed Nathaniel Fennell to come up with a turnover. Tillis again took the ball into the redzone with a 25-yard rush where Hodges ran it in from four yards out off the left tackle to tie the game at 35.

Waco’s passing game didn’t fair well on the night completing four of 10 attempts for 92 yards, but it was there when the Lions’ needed it most.  On a second-and-28, Waco’s quarterback Jaylen Harris connected to Michael Simpson for a bubble screen pass that went 45-yards and the last touchdown of the night.

“We’re going to look at film and obviously there are things we’ve got to sure up,” Edwards said. “It was second and 20 when we gave up that big touchdown so there are things we definitely need to work on.”

Hodges and Tillis both finished the night with more than 100 yards rushing, 124 rushing yards from Hodges in the first quarter alone.

Heights won the battle of the numbers with 11 more offensive plays, six more first downs and 10 minutes more time in possession, but none of those matter compared to the big plays.

“The offensive line has done great,” Tillis said. “If it wasn’t for them, I would be going nowhere, so a give a lot of credit to them. All those gains, even ones that aren’t big ones, that’s all them.”

The Knights lead the district in rushing at 922 yards, with Hodges leading 8-6A district with in touchdowns at five and second place in rushing with 391 yards so far this year. Tillis follows in sixth place in district with 230 yards rushing.

Harker Heights travel to play Vandegrift tonight.

Vandegrift(1-2) was just in the neighborhood as they’re coming off their first win against Killeen High School last week, 45-24, after losing to Cedar Park, 35-7, and Permian, 28-24.

Knights’ secondary will have to be on their toes as most of Vandegrift’s yards will be through the air with already 739 total passing yards on the season, most from senior quarterback Justin Moore.

Moore has connected for 53 of his 92 attempts and averaging 12 yards with nine passing touchdowns this year. Isaiah Smallwood has carried for 201 yards on the ground in 56 carries for the Vipers.

Vandegrift’s defense will likely be in a 4-3 formation and is averaging three sacks a game and are five for five on fumble recoveries.

“We work a lot on fundamentals to prepare for each game,” Edwards said. “We have a few new formations to work on that will give us an advantage by making sure we have the best personnel on the field.”

Harker Heights travels to Austin tonight as kick off will start at 7:30 p.m.


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