What impressed Hartley High School football coach Brad Burchfield about his team’s 35-14 win over host Watterson on Oct. 4 wasn’t its 290 yards rushing or the fact that it had no turnovers and the Eagles committed four.
Burchfield was ecstatic that the Hawks shut out Watterson in the second half at Hagely Field, steadily building on a 21-14 halftime lead with drives of almost eight and six minutes and thwarting three scoring opportunities by the Eagles.
Hartley improved to 5-1 and Watterson dropped to 2-4.
“They were going to muscle us up and run power at us. The key for us was how quick could we come up with a plan B and adjust, and we did,” Burchfield said. “I didn’t expect us to muscle them as much as we did, and we did exactly that in the fourth quarter. The kids executed. They were very physical.”
Senior running back and defensive back Alonzo Saxton almost single-handedly iced the win. He intercepted Watterson quarterback Sam Maglicic twice in the end zone, scored on a 59-yard run to make it 35-14 with 2 minutes, 43 seconds left and recovered an onside kick after his touchdown.
“That’s a 'wow' play, right?” Burchfield said. “And (Saxton) made a couple of them. He’s one of the best defensive players in the state.”
Saxton, who finished with 65 yards rushing on three carries and had three catches for 71 yards, steadily has worked his way back into the lineup after being hampered early this season by a hamstring injury.
“I just read the (Watterson offensive) guards. They tell everything,” Saxton said of his interceptions. “If they pull, it’s a run, and if they don’t pull, it’s a pass. I was already thinking pass and the only decision was which way (Maglicic) was going to pass. I’ve been working on breaking on the ball a lot in practice.”
Sam Mackowiak rushed for a game-high 150 yards and two touchdowns (48, 1) on 22 carries to pace the Hawks, who attempted only four passes. Watterson threw just six times in a game that took just less than two hours to play.
Hartley’s Jacob Mercier scored on a 12-yard run midway through the first quarter and Watterson answered with a 4-yard touchdown run by Cody Calhoun. Hartley's Cavell Bennett scored on a 5-yard run on the second play of the second quarter to put the Hawks back ahead and, after they recovered an onside kick, Mackowiak's long touchdown run gave Hartley a 21-7 lead.
Calhoun, who rushed for 60 yards on 15 carries, scored on 1-yard run with 6:37 left in the half to get Watterson within 21-14, but the Eagles, whose worst starting field position was their own 45-yard line, never got closer.
H--Mercier 12 run (Barringer kick)
W--Calhoun 4 run (Harper kick)
H--Bennett 5 run (Barringer kick)
H--Mackowiak 48 run (Barringer kick)
W--Calhoun 1 run (Harper kick)
H--Mackowiak 1 run (Barringer kick)
H--Saxton 59 run (Barringer kick)