Birdville’s eagerness to begin the 2013 season and build off the school’s best season a year ago might have turned slightly to anxiety when quarterback Ty Engelhardt went down this week with a season-ending knee injury.
But it’s also nice to have one of top running backs in the state and a stout defense with some resolve to sooth over any concerns.
The Hawks used both to overwhelm a gritty Fort Worth Arlington Heights team in the second half of a 48-7 victory in a nondistrict game between Class 4A teams at Farrington Field on Friday night.
Xavier Turner, a highly recruited senior running back, accounted for four touchdowns, including three rushing while racking up 121 yards on 18 carries for Birdville, which outscored Heights 34-0 in the last two quarters.
Turner scored on runs of 2, 1 and 5 yards and he also hauled in a 10-yard scoring pass from quarterback Will Hayward, who didn’t disappoint in his substitute role.
Hayward, likely more comfortable in his regular starting slot in the secondary, rushed for 89 yards on eight carries with a long of 24. He was 5-for-12 passing for 118 yards and an interception.
Turner also had two catches for 55 yards, including a 45-yard catch-and-run that set up his first touchdown.
Turner’s second touchdown, in the third, opened the floodgates.
Senior linebacker Nicholas Dusak led a steady charge on defense for the Hawks, who held Heights to 190 total yards. Cornerback Brandon Wilson capped the victory with an interception returned 52 yards for a touchdown.
Running back Kerrion Graves led the Yellow Jackets with 58 yards on 13 carries, including a 9-yard scamper to cap an 11-play drive late in the first half that cut into a 14-point deficit and gave Heights some much-needed momentum heading into halftime.
After forcing the Hawks to punt on the opening possession of the second half, Heights took over in good field position, at their own 40, still trailing by seven.
The Yellow Jackets advanced the ball to their 48 and opted to go for it on fourth-and-2.
The decision backfired. The Hawks reasserted themselves when the defense stuffed the Yellow Jackets forcing a turnover on downs.
Birdville forced the Yellow Jackets to punt seven times.
Heights’ defense responded to the challenge posed by Turner, who rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 31 TD s in Birdville’s run to the regional finals, the school’s deepest playoff advance since opening in 1999.
He carried five times for 68 yards on his team’s first drive of the game before Isaiah Duarte scored the first of his two touchdowns, finishing off the 1-minute, six-play drive by sprinting to the outside corner of the end zone from 2 yards to give Birdville an early lead.
The Yellow Jackets, though, held Turner to 7 yards the rest of the half.
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