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Bangs football blasts Hawley to continue best start in 15 years

Stephen Garcia
Abilene Reporter-News

BANGS — There wasn't much that didn't go Bangs' way Friday night.

The Dragons smothered a usually potent Hawley offense and moved the ball at will in continuing their best start in 15 years.

Bangs blew past the Bearcats 39-15 at Dragon Memorial Stadium to improve to 4-0. It's the most wins without a loss to start a season since a 7-0 streak in 2005.

Bangs running back Ethan Sanchez flips the ball to an official after scoring a touchdown against Hawley on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, at Dragon Memorial Stadium in Bangs.

"This is by far the best team we've played," Dragons coach Kyle Maxfield said. "We've played some quality teams, not to take anything away from them. But especially with the success (Hawley) had, playing 14 games last year and the confidence that they play with. Coach (Mitch) Ables has done a tremendous job over there at Hawley. So, our kids saw this as a test to kind of see where we're at. Not only physical, but as a total team.

"We answered the call tonight. We've got a lot of work to do, but really proud of the boys' effort tonight."

Ethan Cortez and Ethan Sanchez combined for 254 rushing yards and six touchdowns, part of 313 yards on the ground for Bangs. Cortez also got it done through the air, completing 10 of 14 passes for 256 yards.

"Against Winters (last game), we had two or three pass attempts because we were having a lot of success running the ball," Maxfield said. "And that's the beauty of this team. We were able to really work on our passing game tonight. That's just going to help us down the road."

The Bearcats, meanwhile, couldn't get on track offensively and turned over the ball four times. Hawley (3-2) played without starting running back Austin Cumpton and lost quarterback Xavier Rodela to injury Friday.

Rodey Hooper took over at quarterback in the second half.

Bangs limited the run-heavy Bearcats to 113 rushing yards.

"They were just penetrating and kind of killing our offense," Hawley coach Mitch Ables said. "I felt like we had a good plan together, but when the whistle blew, they kind of wore us out tonight. They're a good ball team. They've gotten better every year we've played them."

Bangs' Damien Santillanes attempts a tackle on Hawley receiver Kason O'Shields on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, at Dragon Memorial Stadium in Bangs.

Sanchez, who entered averaging 206.3 rushing yards per game, finished with 100 yards and four TDs on 14 carries. He scored three times in the opening half as the Dragons built a 26-7 lead.

Hawley got within 14-7 with 3:54 left in the second quarter before the Dragons pulled away with a pair of quick scores. Bangs had a two-play drive end with a 12-yard Sanchez run, and the Bearcats lost a fumble on the ensuing kickoff.

The Dragons scored again 46 seconds later on a 23-yard run by Sanchez.

Hawley appeared to cut into the 19-point deficit on its next possession, but Rodela lost a fumble at the Bangs' 1-yard line. Hooper played the final two quarters, throwing two interceptions. The sophomore finished 12 of 20 passing for 94 yards and a 22-yard TD throw to Aeneas Segura.

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Bangs sophomore safety Guy Powell (20) points to the sideline following his interception as teammate Evan Belez (4) comes to celebrate in a game against Hawley Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, at Dragon Memorial Stadium in Bangs.

Game summary

Turning point: Bangs was in control, up 20-7 late in the first half, when Hawley lost a fumble on a kickoff. Five plays later, the Dragons led 26-7 on Sanchez's 23-yard run.

 Player of the game: Ethan Cortez, quarterback, Bangs — Cortez had the Dragons offense humming, finishing with 154 rushing yards and 256 passing. The senior had two scoring runs, including a dazzling 61-yard dash in the third quarter in which he broke multiple tackles to bury the Bearcats.

Key stat: Bangs had leaned on Sanchez offensively through three games, but Cortez showed off his passing ability Friday. Cortez completed 10 of 14 attempts for 256 yards, including a pair of big throws to set up the Dragons' first two scores. The senior had passes of 33 and 49 yards on Bangs' first two TD drives.

Coach Ables said: "Kids aren't going to have fun this week with little fumble drills. We put the ball on the ground way too many times. And if you're playing somebody that's good, that's just something insurmountable that you can't overcome."

Coach Maxfield said: "During the first half and the beginning of the third quarter, it felt like our offense was finally hitting on all cylinders. We've been able to move the ball all year long, but it seemed like we were able to spread the wealth a little more and get everybody involved. And it's always fun and a lot more productive when you're able to do that."

Impact: Bangs is full of confidence following a perfect run through its nondistrict slate. Hawley still has question marks, as its offense has sputtered in its two losses.

Up next: The next game for each team will mark the start of district play. Hawley opens at Haskell, while Bangs plays at San Angelo Grape Creek, both on Oct. 9. Grape Creek fell to Early 36-0 on Friday, while Haskell had to cancel its game after positive COVID-19 tests on the team.

Bangs running back Ethan Sanchez (24) celebrates with offensive lineman Warren Theriaque as Hawley's Kason O'Shields walks by Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, at Dragon Memorial Stadium in Bangs.

NONDISTRICT

Bangs 39, Hawley 15

Hawley   0  7  0  8—15

Bangs   14  12  13  0—39

FIRST QUARTER

BAN — Ethan Cortez 13 run (Braxton Melling kick), 5:11

BAN — Ethan Sanchez 7 run (Melling kick), 1:47

SECOND QUARTER

HAW — Hez Parker 1 run (Kason O'Shields kick), 3:54

BAN — Sanchez 12 run (run failed), 3:01

BAN — Sanchez 23 run (pass failed), 2:05

THIRD QUARTER

BAN — Sanchez 2 run (run failed), 9:19

BAN — Cortez 61 run (Melling kick), 5:13

FOURTH QUARTER

HAW — Aeneas Segura 22 pass from Rodey Hooper (O'Shields pass from Hooper), 4:06

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs: (H) 18; (B) 22

Rushes-Yards: (H) 32-113; (B) 38-313

Passing: (H) 210; (B) 256

Comp-Att-Int: (H) 20-38-2; (B) 10-14-1

Punts: (H) 5; (B) 3

Fumbles-Lost: (H) 4-2; (B) 3-1

Penalties-Yards: (H) 8-70; (B) 2-5

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Hawley, Hez Parker 15-58, Xavier Rodela 13-47, Kason O'Shields 2-3, Rodey Hooper 2-5. Bangs, Ethan Cortez 13-154, Ethan Sanchez 14-100, Damien Santillanes 7-86, Harley Keely 1-(-6), Team 3-(-21).

PASSING: Hawley, Rodela 8-18-0—116, Hooper 12-20-2—94. Bangs, Cortez 10-14-1—256.

RECEIVING: Hawley, Aeneas Segura 7-77, O'Shields 7-34, Will Scott 4-87, Benecio Cruz 1-10, Mark Salas 1-2. Bangs, Brayton Wedeman 5-100, Trevor Bowers 3-114, Logan Massey 2-42.

RECORDS: Hawley 3-2; Bangs 4-0.