SOUTHLAKE — The game was done, Birdville's short team huddle had broken up, and disappointment was setting in for the Hawks' players.
The best season in the school's 14-year football history was over, ended by Denton Guyer's 52-42 victory Saturday afternoon at Carroll's Dragon Stadium. Birdville senior quarterback Justin Martin, one of the big reasons for the team's 13-0 record before this game, was looking for teammates to console.
He hugged defensive back Brenden Sutton, whose eye black -- matching the Hawks' game jerseys -- was tear-strained and running. Before Martin -- whose heroic play was eclipsed by that of sensational Guyer QB Jerrod Heard's -- submitted to an interview, he said, "I've got to find my coaches first."
Then the chants started from the Birdville fans, many of them wearing black T-shirts inscribed with gold lettering, "We Believe," and "We Made History."
"We are proud of our boys!" "We are proud of our boys!" Followed by "We Made History!" "We Made History!"
"We Believe" was the Birdville team's motto and it believed to the end, but Heard and his Guyer teammates made believers of the Hawks, too.
Guyer, 12-2 and unbeaten since two opening losses, advanced to the Class 4A Division I state semifinals with this Region I championship win and moved into a Friday night game against Tyler John Tyler (13-1) at Midlothian ISD Stadium.
Heard, headed for the University of Texas, cut up Birdville's defense with his open-field running, gained 163 yards on 16 carries, and also hit an efficient 11 of 15 passes for 172 yards. He accounted for five touchdowns, two running and three passing.
Birdville fell behind 14-0 just 3:52 into the game, and never caught up, closing to seven points twice. The Hawks had their heroes -- Xavier Turner (146 yards rushing, three TDs) and Justin Martin (174 yards and three TDs passing, 65 yards rushing), but Guyer had too many weapons and too much offense (595 yards, 423 rushing).
"We put up 42 on the No. 1 team in the state," Birdville coach Jim Skinner said. "Kids played hard, but too much Heard. ... Heard hurt us bad. He's a killer."
Heard several times magically escaped the Hawks' defense as he scrambled from sideline to sideline. Birdville also surrendered two huge Guyer TD runs -- DJ Breedlove with an 84-yard sprint on the game's third play, Richard Whitaker on a 44-yard blast up the middle for the final Guyer score (making it 52-35 with 7:08 remaining). And the Hawks couldn't stop receiver Ellis Jefferson, who burned them with TD catches of 43 and 6 yards and caught six passes for a season-best 123 yards.
Birdville did all it could, trying a couple of double passes, even a triple reverse -- intended as a pass but winding up as a run -- and some of it worked. Receiver Sam Northey hit a 58-yard TD pass to wide-open Barrett Shaw that made it 45-35 with 7:36 left, and Martin caught a pass from Northey, too, to set up the Hawks' final score with 4:08 left.
But luck turned against Birdville, too. It recovered an onside kick after Shaw's score, only to have it ified when the referee announced "the ball was never ready for play."
"Well ... why did you let us kick it?," Skinner said of the officials' call. "That's the first time all year that's happened to us. The [kicker] has never gone without a whistle."
(Actually, Guyer coach John Walsh told the Denton media that he had warned officials he was going to call a timeout just before the kickoff. So Birdville's would-be break was doomed from the start.)
After a wild first half which ended with Guyer leading 31-21, the Hawks failed on fourth down after advancing to the Wildcats' 16 midway in the third quarter. "That hurt," Skinner said.
Martin (18 of 25) had three touchdown passes -- one to Turner for 15 yards just before the half with Turner neatly faking his way past the final two defenders, 7 yards to Shaw and 11 yards to Northey.
"We played as hard as we could," Martin said. "We tried to do everything to win, but unfortunately we came up short. We had a great season. I love every one of our players.
"You wish your defense could make stops, but you can't ask them to do everything," Martin added. "We [the offense] should have scored a few more times; they [the defense] should have made a few more stops. But all in all, we had a great season."
"I'm proud of our kids, our coaches. Just a great job by these young men," Skinner said. "It gives us something to build on for the future. I'm disappointed for the weekend, but I'm proud of this bunch.
"We're going to hold our heads very high. We're going to get ready for next year."
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