EARLY — Wall hasn’t been a nice opponent to Early the last three times they’ve clashed. When the two District 3-3A Division I teams met again Friday night at Longhorn Stadium, the outcome was no surprise.
The Hawks employed a dominant rush attack and suffocating defense all game that allowed them to soar past the Longhorns in a 57-0 rout. It is the second time in four matchups that Early has been shutout by Wall, with the latest coming in 2012, when it clobbered the Longhorns, 77-0. Since the start of that game, the Hawks have outscored them by an eye-popping 37 touchdowns.
The loss for Early (1-5, 0-2) also marks its worst start to a season since 2009. That team finished 2-8.
“I love them in the good times and I love them during the not-so-good times,” Early head coach Blake Sandford said about his players after the game. “(Wall) is just good at what they do, and we’re just going to have to get better.”
Wall’s offense was as strong as it was swift. The Hawks scored their first 22 points in the opening quarter in a combined 2 minutes and 52 seconds. Its longest scoring drive of that period lasted just three plays and milked only 63 seconds. Wall scored on seven of its eight drives.
On the flip side, Early has been shunned on the scoreboard in 10 of the last 12 quarters, dating back to its 39-7 loss to Hawley on Sept. 18. A 32-yard field goal attempt by Blake Steele with less than a minute in the game was no good.
Running back Thomas Hurtado was Mr. do-it-all for the Hawks (6-0, 2-0). He rushed for two touchdowns and finished with a game-high 136 yards, including a pair of 50-yard bursts. Hurtado, who also plays defensive back, recorded an interception, weaved through traffic, and returned it 95 yards for a score.
It was Early quarterback Grant Fanara’s second pick-six in as many games. Fanara, who went just 3-of-16 for 5 yards, was also sacked three times and under constant pressure with a flurry of outside linebacker blitzes. Several of Fanara’s passes to the outside on bubble screens were sniffed out by Wall. The Hawks defense forced five three-and-outs to start the game.
Early netted only 74 yards of offense and earned only three of its five first downs. The other two came at the expense of penalties committed by Wall. A pair of flags called on the Hawks also wiped out a pair of scoring plays, including a scoop-and-score on defense, and other big gains on offense.
Hawks quarterback Bryce Dierschke went a perfect 4-of-4 for 95 yards with a scoring toss. He added an extra 77 on the ground and rushed for two 3-yard scores. Wall put up 419 yards of offense and didn’t punt once.
The Longhorns punted seven times. The team didn’t cross midfield until the third quarter when punter Drew Sessler scooped up a muffed punt and raced 22 yards toward the left sideline to overcome a fourth-and-long. The heads-up play was the team’s first-earned first down.
Early’s best play of the game was when backup quarterback Tyler Kirkland tossed a perfectly thrown ball while on the run to Abe Morris for a 37-yard gain late in the fourth. Another highlight was when Early recovered a fumble with about a minute left before halftime. The Longhorns defense has recovered at least one fumble in each game this season.
“We’re going to continue to work and try to get better,” Sandford said. “We’re not going to give up, and we’re not going to give in.”
Early travels to Brady (4-2, 1-1) next week, which is coming off a 35-34 district loss to Clyde.
Wall 57, Early 0
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Wall 22 21 7 7 - 57
Early 0 0 0 0 - 0
W: Thomas Hurtado 52 run (Tymber Carr run), 9:12, 1st
W: Brendan Bush 37 pass from Bryce Dierschke (Layton Gully kick), 7:03, 1st
W: Tymber Carr 16 run (Gully kick), 4:17, 1st
W: Dierschke 3 run (Gully kick), 11:29, 2nd
W: Dierschke 3 run (Gully kick), 7:06, 2nd
W: Hurtado 95 interception return (Gully kick), 3:21, 2nd
W: Hurtado 14 run (Gully kick), 10:26, 3rd
W: Chase Smith 1 run (Gully kick), 11:41, 4th
First Downs 16 5
Total Offense 419 74
Rushes-Yards 26-298 23-32
Passing Yards 121 42
C-A-I 5-6-0 4-18-1
Fumbles Lost 1 0
Penalties 10-90 4-40
Punts 0-0.0 7-30.1
W: Thomas Hurtado 6-136, Bryce Dierschke 8-77, Ryan Walling 4-44, Tymber Carr 3-32. E: Joaquin Pesina 10-27, Drew Sessler 1-22.
W: Dierschke 4-4-0-95. E: Tyler Kirkland 1-2-0-37; Grant Fanara 3-16-1-5.
W: Brendan Bush 3-75, Kanton Hoelscher 1-26, Lupe Reyes 1-20. E: Abe Morris 1-37, Pesina 1-4.