SWEETWATER — Xavier Turner hadn’t fumbled all season, but with Birdville driving in the fourth quarter and trailing Wolfforth Frenship by three points, a Frenship defender popped the ball out of the senior’s grip, turning a 13-yard run into a turnover.
“They hit him just right,” Birdville coach Jim Skinner said. “They hit the ball and knocked it out.”
But Turner would find redemption.
On the Hawks’ next possession, Turner scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to put Birdville (11-2) ahead with 2:12 left in the game Saturday night. The Hawks would stop previously unbeaten Frenship (12-1), hanging on for a 26-22 win to advance to the Class 4A Division I state quarterfinals, where they will play Denton Guyer.
A site hasn’t been confirmed yet, but North Texas’ Apogee Stadium is a possibility, Skinner said.
Turner, who entered Saturday averaging 10.42 yards per carry, finished with 130 rushing yards on 25 carries after being held under 30 yards in the first half.
“They were geared to stop him,” Skinner said. “But he came back, the offensive line picked it up in the second half, I thought, and we got after it.”
But Frenship’s focus on Turner during the first quarteropened things up for quarterback Will Hayward, both in running and throwing the football.
“They keyed on Xavier and gave me a chance to make some plays,” Hayward said. “I think most of their defensive game plan was focused on stopping the running back first, and that definitely opened some holes for us.”
Hayward found Sam Northey for a 19-yard touchdown pass with 6:25 left in the first quarter. He later ran it in from 9 yards out to give Birdville a 13-0 lead.
A 27-yard run from Ronald Awatt put Frenship within a touchdown just before the half, and a 16-yard pass from Trevor Eulenbach to Chandler Casey in the third quarter gave the Tigers the lead.
Turner’s fumble gave Frenship the ball back, and the Tigers were up 22-19 with around six minutes left. But a pair of incompletions by Eulenbach and a botched punt snap led to an 11-yard punt, setting Birdville up for its winning score.
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