Eagles dominate second half to end 5-year skid against Chisholm
If you do things right long enough, it eventually turns your way.
That’s the message Paul Hix has preached to his Hennessey Eagles since the beginning of the 2019 season.
On Thursday night, things turned the Eagles’ way.
Hennessey controlled much of the second half to earn a 15-14 victory on homecoming night against rival Chisholm.
“It’s a pretty excited locker room tonight,” said Hix, whose team won for the second time in three games after going nearly two full seasons without a victory.
“I’ve got a ton of respect for (Chisholm head coach) Joey (Reinart) and that program. They’re what we’re striving to be. They’re tough to beat, but we got them tonight.”
It snapped a five-game losing streak against the Longhorns, which included a 61-8 win by the Longhorns last season, Hix’s first with the Eagles.
“We didn’t need any extra motivation tonight, that’s for sure,” Hix said.
But the Eagles did need some help out of the starting gate.
Chisholm led 14-0 at halftime as Hennessey managed just 59 total yards and was racking up penalties.
“It could have been worse than that. We’re very young and immature and it takes us getting punched in the mouth before we feel we can fight back,” Hix said.
The Eagles steadied themselves just before half and Hix said he challenged his team at halftime to turn the tide.
Hennessey got an eightplay, 80-yard drive to cut their deficit in half when quarterback Sebastian Gonzalez ran it in from 5 yards out, then kicked the extra-point at 5:35 of the third.
They put together a seven-play, 76 yard drive that began in the third quarter, but leaked into the fourth.
Just 13 seconds into the final quarter, Gonzalez found Kaden Hawk for a 29-yard score.
Hix wasn’t satisfied with tying it up.
“When we have the opportunity to go for two and win the game, we have sort of a special play we work on,” Hix said.
“Even though there was a lot of time left, I just felt like that was the right time.”
Gonzalez rewarded the call with the conversion run and a one-point lead.
The Eagles didn’t give it up.
After getting the ball back, Hennessey had another time-consuming drive late in the game.
“We were really good on fourth down,” said Hix, whose team was 2-for-3 on them in the second half.
The Eagles racked up more than 200 yards of offense and had 12 first downs in the second half.
Gonzalez was 10 of 18 passing without an interception. He threw for 137 yards and added another 56 on 17 carries.
Hawk was his primary target as he hauled in seven passes for 90 yards.
Keigen Crites ran for 79 yards on 16 attempts.
Crites and Hawk were also huge on defense.
Hawk had 13 total tackles while Crites added 12.
Brandon Mendoza was in on 10 tackles.
“I’m really proud of our defensive coordinator,” said Hix of first-year coach Evan Sprayberry.
“We weren’t very good defensively last year and I really challenged him before the season.”
The Eagles gave up 50.7 points a game during last year’s winless season.
Outside of surrendering 46 to Blackwell last week after two weeks of quarantine and almost no practice, Hennessey hasn’t given up more than 14 in a game this season.
“We’ve been able to turn that around,” Hix said. And that’s exactly what the Eagles did in the second half against Chisholm.
“Even if we hadn’t won the game, I would have been proud of our guys and the way they responded,” Hix said.
But the Eagles did win as the moved their season mark to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in District 2A-1.
Chisholm’s struggles continued as the Longhorns fell to 1-5 overall and 0-4 in the district.
It’s still the team that’s largely dominated 2A-1 since dethroning Hennessey a half-decade ago.
“My guys didn’t care what their record was,” Hix said. “It is a rivalry game.”