GOLDTHWAITE — Eight isn’t enough, at least for the Wall Hawks against the Goldthwaite Eagles.
Goldthwaite beat Wall 24-7 Friday night as halfback Cory Baker rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns and Walt Clifton ran for 123 yards and a score.
It marked the eighth loss for the Hawks in the eight games they’ve played against the Eagles, including a one-point loss last year. All of Goldthwaite’s wins over Wall have come with Gary Proffitt as the Eagles head coach, but upon entering Friday’s football game with an 0-1 record, his thoughts were on his team righting its ship.
“We played much better tonight. The No. 1 thing we did was hold on to the ball,” said Proffitt, whose team lost no fumbles after losing four in last week’s 22-19 upset loss to Irion County. “We eliminated a lot of the mistakes we had last week.
“There are still some things we need to work on. There’s some confusion at times on the goal line on who to block. They change their coverages and it’s supposed to change who we block. Some of that is effort, too. They (Hawks) came after us a little harder down there than we went after them.”
The Eagles missed opportunities to put away the game by early in the third quarter. Goldthwaite got no points despite once having the ball at the Wall 4-yard line in the second quarter and the Wall 1 in the third quarter.
“Our defense has been our mainstay,” said Wall first-year head coach Houston Guy, whose Hawks threw up four goal-line stands in last week’s season-opening 7-0 loss to Colorado City. “Our defense has kept us in both ballgames.
“Our offense has struggled. I’m glad we scored tonight to get that monkey off our back, but we’ve still got a lot of improving to do, offensively.”
The Hawks’ scoring drought to open the season lasted seven quarters and 57 seconds. Following a 15-yard Goldthwaite punt, Wall drove 49 yards for their first score this season. Colton Chandler’s 31-yard run up the middle set up quarterback Denver Lewallen’s 1-yard scoring run that cut the Eagles’ lead to 17-7 with 11:03 left to play.
At that point, Goldthwaite didn’t have a first down in the second half, but the Eagles responded by driving 76 yards in eight plays to clinch their win. Clifton, who now has 342 yards rushing in two games, was the workhorse early in the drive, but Baker got the touchdown on a 37-yard run after popping clear of the line of scrimmage. Baker’s kick gave Goldthwaite a 24-7 lead with 7:34 left.
“In the second half, we lost some of our intensity,” said Proffitt, whose Eagles led 17-0 at halftime. “But I was proud of the way we drove the ball and scored after Wall scored. That drive showed some character.”
Baker scored 18 of the Eagles’ 24 points on two touchdown runs, a 26-yard field goal and three extra-point kicks.
“We found out this week what it means to play as a team,” Baker said, referring to the difference between Friday and the Irion County loss. “The big thing was that we hung on to the ball tonight.
“On defense, we stopped all the big plays tonight — the long runs and we didn’t let anybody get behind us (in pass coverage). Our line did a great job rushing the quarterback and getting to the ball.”
Goldthwaite’s defense limited Wall to 159 total yards. The Hawks had 163 yards last week against Colorado City.
The Eagles scored on the third play from scrimmage. After two Clifton runs totaled 54 yards, Baker scored on a 17-yard run to stake the Eagles to a 7-0 lead only 1:25 into the game. The Eagles added Baker’s 26-yard field goal on their next possession for a 10-0 lead with 4:43 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles had to go only 7 yards for their third score after Clay Phillips’ fumble recovery. It took all four downs, though, against Wall’s defense before Clifton’s 2-yard run extended Goldthwaite’s lead to 17-0 with 5:39 left before halftime.