High School Football

Azle wins fifth straight game, denying Crowley a 6-0 start to season

Azle’s Billy Heath, center takes the ball up the middle for a touchdown and a 13-7 lead over Crowley during the first quarter of Friday’s October 4, 2019 football game at Hornet Stadium in Azle, Texas. Special/Bob Haynes
Azle’s Billy Heath, center takes the ball up the middle for a touchdown and a 13-7 lead over Crowley during the first quarter of Friday’s October 4, 2019 football game at Hornet Stadium in Azle, Texas. Special/Bob Haynes Special to the Star-Telegram

After all of those touchdowns, it came down to a field goal and a pair of missed extra points for the Azle Hornets to maintain control of their series against Crowley and take over the driver’s seat in their quest for a second straight District 3-5A Division I championship Friday night with a 48-47 home win against the Eagles.

Nicky Quevedo’s 43-yard field goal with six seconds to play provided the winning points as the Hornets (5-1) improved to 4-0 in league play. They also won their fifth straight since dropping their season opener to Grapevine 23-22 at home.

Last season, the Hornets rebounded from an opening-night loss to win 10 straight en route to the district title and a second-round playoff appearance.

The game was the epitome of a back-and-forth contest. Azle led 14-7 after the first quarter; Crowley (5-1, 3-1) was up 35-14 at the half; the Hornets regained the lead 45-35; and the Eagles captured it back, 47-45, before Quevedo’s last-second heroics.

Crowley looked to have sealed the victory with Xavier Goynes’ interception with 1:26 remaining. However, the Hornets held them to a three-and-out series, using all three timeouts to get the ball back with a minute to play.

The key play in the game-winning drive for Azle was a 16-yard pass from quarterback Drey Owen to Eric McAlister on a third-and-7 to move the ball to the Crowley 25. McAlister caught eight passes for 92 yards.

The loss spoiled a yeoman effort by Crowley running back Dominique Johnson, who finished with 292 yards on 30 carries, including touchdowns of 2, 10, 17, 48, and 52 yards. His last TD put the Eagles up 47-45 with 3:31 to play.

Johnson’s final touchdown was preceded by quarterback Kevin Miller connecting with MJ Tillman for a 26-yard score. However, the two-point pass attempt failed, and the extra-point kick was blocked after Johnson’s score, leaving an opportunity for the Hornets.

Johnson and the Eagles appeared to take control of the contest in the second quarter as they outscored the Hornets 28-0. Johnson had three touchdowns, which were preceded by a 2-yard TD run by Clatayvion Jackson, as Crowley built a 35-14 halftime lead.

However, in the third quarter Azle, dominated with a 24-point outburst, including TD runs of 20 yards by Billy Heath, 12 yards by quarterback Drey Owen and 1 yard by Jonathan Lester, along with Quevedo’s 36-yard field goal.

The Hornets looked to have deflated the Eagles’ chances when Tristen Geffert returned an interception 5 yards for a 45-35 lead. It came after a 73-yard punt by Quevedo pinned Crowley at its own 1.

Quevedo had several big moments in the game, including his onside kick to set up Heath’s 7-yard run and a 14-7 lead.

Owen finished the night with 290 total yards. He rushed for 152 yards, also adding an 8-yard touchdown that tied the game at 7, and passed for 138.

The Azle defense forced five turnovers — three interceptions and a pair of fumbles. Crowley’s defense countered with three interceptions, two by Goynes.

Azle and Crowley did not play for many years. Since they started their current slate of matchups in 2016, the Hornets are 4-0.

The Azle victory also spoiled Crowley’s bid to open a season 6-0 for the first time since 2013. Still, the Eagles are in good shape to reach the playoffs for a fourth straight season.

The Hornets are one victory away from back-to-back winning seasons and playoff appearances for the first time since the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

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