When Denton returned the second-half kickoff to the Lake Dallas 13-yard line and the Falcons were flagged with a pass interference call two plays later that put the ball at the 3-yard line instead of an interception, the Broncos seemed poised to get themselves within a touchdown and right back in the game.
Unfortunately, for Denton, on the next play, senior quarterback Cy Ward couldn’t secure the low snap and the Broncos fumbled away their scoring chance. The Falcons then turned that into a nine-play, 91-yard drive that was topped off with the first of two second-half touchdown passes between sophomore quarterback Dagan Haehn and sophomore wideout Keegan Brewer as Lake Dallas held on for a 42-28 victory at Bronco Field in the District 5-4A opener for both schools.
“That was a big turning point,” Lake Dallas head coach Michael Young said. “They got a big kickoff return. The pass interference they called, I wasn’t sure about because we intercepted the ball. I thought it was justice that happened maybe on the play before that, so that was big. We’ve struggled getting turnovers and we did that tonight. It helped us a lot.”
Each team turned the ball over twice, but it was the Falcons who profited the most as Denton was unable to turn the two Lake Dallas interceptions into points.
“We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities in the red zone,” Denton head coach Kevin Atkinson said. “Even when the chips got down, they didn’t falter. They still tried. The effort says a lot. We just need to correct the misalignment on defense and foolish penalties, and we didn’t execute the blocking schemes like we needed to. They [Falcons] are a playoff-caliber team and they made plays over and over. We made just a few plays.”
Haehn was the Falcons’ offensive catalyst as he threw for 187 yards and three touchdowns while also racking up 96 yards and a touchdown on the ground. With Young looking for more out of his ground game, Lake Dallas had 222 yards on 43 carries compared to 133 on 36 carries for the Broncos.
Defensively, junior defensive lineman Josiah Tauaefa tormented Denton’s offensive line with four sacks.
“The offensive coach stuck with it,” Young said. “It’s harder to run the ball earlier in the game. You kind of get the defensive line a little bit more tired and I think that was a big part of our success running the ball, but we need to run the ball better. That’s going to help us out against the teams we play in the next few weeks.”
After both teams failed to find the end zone in their first two possessions, it was the Falcons who started the scoring with 57 seconds left in the first quarter. The Haehn-Jackson connection began early as Jackson hauled in a 52-yard catch with two defenders on his back and in position to make a play. Haehn then punched in a 6-yard rushing touchdown to give the Falcons the 7-0 advantage.
Despite Denton safety Michael Husbands intercepting Haehn and senior wideout Brandon Simpson on a trick play in the first half, the Broncos’ punting game faltered in an attempt to keep the ball away from the returner Jackson, which nullified the momentum Denton’s defense had developed.
Haehn found Simpson for 9 yards on a fourth-and-4 with 7:11 left in the second quarter to extend the Falcons’s drive. They then took a 14-0 lead on a fade pass to the deep right corner of the end zone from Haehn to Jackson, who again beat defenders with a timely jump before bobbling and securing the ball on the way down to the ground for an 11-yard touchdown.
“They played mostly man [coverage] and sometimes cover-2, so I’ll be able to get open on that, but we really focused on our running game tonight and it worked,” Jackson said. “We could have played a lot better. Our defense stepped up in the second half and the offense stepped up, but we have to play better.”
After the Falcons’ defense held Ward and the Broncos to a quick 3-and-out, it took Lake Dallas just six plays to take a 21-0 lead with 2:35 left in the first half as sophomore Courtenay Holder took a sweeping handoff for an 8-yard touchdown.
The Broncos were able to cut into the Falcons’ lead with their Xavier Scott-led rushing drive that set up junior quarterback Christian Rodriguez for a 12-yard touchdown pass on an arching fade to junior Key’andre Hearvey in the right corner of the end zone with 25 seconds left in the half.
Despite nearly holding the Broncos scoreless in the first half, Young wasn't impressed with his team’s play.
“We didn’t play very good at all,” Young said. “We get wins and we enjoy wins, but we know we are going to have to play better than that or we aren’t going to be able to win next week. I thought our special teams weren’t very good, and defensively, at times we played good, but we had lapses where we gave up points we shouldn’t. That touchdown before halftime can’t happen. You’re up 21-0 with a minute left and they’re willing to just run the ball, you have to get a stop and the half will end.”
Haehn’s 23-yard touchdown to Brewer gave the Falcons the 28-7 lead with 7:48 to go in the third quarter, but Denton answered back with another Rodriguez-Hearvey hookup — this time a 41-yard catch and run that got the Broncos back within 28-14 with a quarter to play.
Brewer’s 13-yard touchdown gave the Falcons a 35-14 lead early in the fourth quarter. On the ensuing possession for Denton, running back Deavonte Doucet fumbled on his own 34-yard line, and it took the Falcons’ just six plays, including Holder’s 1-yard TD run, to make it 42-14.
The Broncos were able to get late touchdowns from senior Adarian Harris and another from Hearvey but failed onside kicks and lack of time spelled Denton’s final demise.
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.
Lake Dallas 42, Denton 28
LD — Dagan Haehn 6 run (Nick Krygsman kick)
LD — Josh Jackson 11 pass from Dagan Haehn (Nick Krygsman kick)
LD — Courtenay Holder 8 run (Nick Krygsman kick)
DN — Key’andre Hearvey 12 pass from Christian Rodriguez (Michael Husbands kick)
LD — Keegan Brewer 23 pass from Dagan Haehn (Nick Krygsman kick)
DN — Key’andre Hearvey 41 pass from Christian Rodriguez (Michael Husbands kick)
LD — Keegan Brewer 13 pass from Dagan Haehn (Nick Krygsman kick)
LD — Courtenay Holder 1 run (Nick Krygsman kick)
DN — Adrian Harris 28 pass from Cy Ward (Michael Husbands kick)
DN — Key’andre Hearvey 24 pass from Christian Rodriguez (Michael Husbands kick)
Rushing — DN: Xavier Scott 13-93, Cy Ward 11-25, Deavonte Doucet 6-15, Christian Rodriguez 6-0, LD: Dagan Haehn 12-96, Courtenay Holder 21-87, Keegan Brewer 3-18, Brandon Simpson 5-13, Brett Sasser 1-7, Mark Contreras 1-1.
Passing — DN: Christian Rodriguez 8-13-0-118, Cy Ward 7-12-0-74, LD: Dagan Haehn 15-20-1-187, Ty Boggs 1-1-0-14, Brandon Simpson 0-1-1-0.
Receiving — DN: Key’andre Hearvey 4-90, Adrian Harris 7-71, Xavier Scott 1-13, Deavonte Doucet 1-9, Deontrae Murray 1-9, Ke’Von Buris 1-0, LD: Keegan Brewer 7-83, Josh Jackson 3-76, Brandon Simpson 3-21, Garrett Shackelford 2-18, Courtenay Holder 1-3.