High School Football

Sophomore running back, rushing game key in Grapevine’s win over Justin Northwest

Grapevine coach Mike Alexander emphasized on the run game during practice on Monday and Tuesday.

He stuck with the script during Thursday’s home opener against Justin Northwest as the Mustangs rolled to a victory behind its sophomore running back.

Caleb Texada rushed for 191 yards and two touchdowns, and Grapevine defeated Northwest 36-26 at its first home game at Mustang-Panther Stadium since 2017.

The stadium was under renovation and reopened in the spring.

“We knew we wanted to run the ball tonight and establish the rushing game,” Alexander said. “The offensive linemen were geeked out for this one, and Texada was huge for us, especially that second play.”

On Grapevine’s second play from scrimmage, Texada, who had 20 carries, scored on a 75-yard TD midway through the first quarter.

“It was up the middle and I decided to bounce it back on the outside and they never saw me,” he said.

The Mustangs (2-1) extended their lead to 9-0 with a safety late in the quarter after a Northwest snap went over its punter’s head and into the end zone.

The Texans (0-3) scored with 5:23 left in the first half when quarterback Austin Ahmad ran in a 6-yard TD. After Grapevine’s Braxton Russell hit a 39-yard field goal, Ahmad hit Zavion Taylor on a 10-yard TD pass to give Northwest a 14-12 lead at intermission.

“We weren’t happy with the first half, but we picked up the energy and kept fighting,” Texada said. “We just kept running, and we worked the short game. Our main focus was moving the chains.”

Grapevine QB Austin Alexander’s 1-yard TD run gave the Mustangs a 19-14 lead with 9:14 in the third. Russell added a 30-yard field goal at the 3:35 mark.

RB Kyndel Sims brought Northwest back within 22-20 on his 3-yard TD run, but the ensuing 2-point conversion was no good to start the fourth quarter.

Texada scored on a 37-yard TD run and Eliot Hanson added a 22-yard TD rush before Ahmad and Taylor connected late in the period.

“We can throw the football and we had some windows opened, but tonight was all about the run game,” Alexander said.

Grapevine rushed for 287 yards and gained 402 total.

Sims led the Texans with 131 yards on 23 carries. Ahmad threw for 188 yards and Taylor had 110 yards on 11 catches. Grapevine’s defense was huge as Northwest scored 65 points and Taylor had 16 catches for 309 yards in Week 2 against McKinney North.

“They’re a talented offensive unit and Taylor is a phenomenal athlete,” Alexander said. “We just wanted to keep as many players around him and not let me turn loose. Overall, I’m proud of all the kids, especially the young guys in the secondary. This experience is invaluable.”

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Born and raised in Hawaii, Brian Gosset graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in journalism before coming to Texas in 2014. He’s covered high school sports — yes, pretty much every high school sport — for the Star-Telegram ever since.