Azle quarterback Drey Owen showed the Hornets are for real in District 3-5A as they held off Saginaw Boswell, 41-27, at Hornet Field on Friday night.
Owen threw for five scores and ran one in for another as Azle improved to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in district.
The Hornets owned the first half and were then able to stave off a Boswell rally in the second half.
Four of Owen’s scoring passes went to Kolten VanGelder, and the other to Westin Pyle.
The game was a showdown for the inside track to a district championship and Azle was ready.
The Hornets came out and were physical and showed greater finesse than Boswell early.
Azle jumped out to a 14-0 lead on their first two drives – both TD passes by Owens – while the Hornets defense forced two punts.
When Boswell (3-3, 3-1) got untracked, it yielded only a field goal. Derrick Berry would later break loose on a 37-yard run for the Pioneers for their first touchdown. Berry was Boswell’s leading rusher with 12 carries and 97 yards.
Later in the second quarter after VanGelder caught his second scoring pass of the first half, the Hornets’ Ricky Firman blocked a Boswell punt and set up Azle at the Pioneers’ 29.
From there, VanGelder hauled in his third score of the half and Azle had a comfortable 28-10 lead.
Boswell showed resiliency when they started from their own 11 with :58 to go in the half and managed another field goal by Oscar Ronquillo to close out the half with Azle up, 28-13.
The Pioneers scored on their first possession of the second half to draw within eight points at 28-20 but Azle answered.
VanGelder took in his fourth scoring pass of the night and then Owen’s TD run late was more than enough.
Boswell scored on the final play of the game, when Cody Mayberry scored for his second TD.
Game was over when: Owen ran for 16 yards and a first down with just 4:00 remaining. With Boswell desperately needing to get the ball back to score and in a 15-point hole, the drive kept the Pioneers high and dry. Copeland added insult to injury with another big run to set up the final Azle score by Owen a few plays later.
Play of the game: Jacob Lee returned a kickoff 94 yards for an apparent score for Azle. Unfortunately for the Hornets, the play was called back due to a penalty.
Offensive player of the game: Owen kept the game in Azle’s favor most of the way. He ran 14 times for 101 yards and passed for 177. Those rushing yards include four sizeable losses when he was sacked.
Defensive player of the game: The Hornets’ defensive front kept the Pioneers’ rushing attack in check early, which dictated their approach to the game. Pyle, Tyler Jensen and Jason Lund deserve the honor.
Unsung hero of the game: Azle’s second score of the game, a 5-yard pass to Weston Pyle, may have caught the Pioneers a bit off guard. Pyle also helps anchor the defensive line for the Hornets.
Stat of the Game: Azle overcame 14 penalties for 160 yards.
Big picture outlook: Azle may be in the driver’s seat but Boswell still showed they have the makings of a playoff caliber team. The question will be how the Pioneers respond next week.
What’s next? Boswell will host Granbury on Friday at 7 pm. Azle will travel to Saginaw Chisholm Trail on Friday.