AZLE — Through three quarters, Denton’s defense gave its offense a shot to get into the game and compete. Eventually, a lack of offensive production was the Broncos’ demise as Azle blew the game open in the fourth quarter on the way to a 31-0 victory Friday night at Hornet Field.
“We did a great job up front,” Denton head coach Kevin Atkinson said. “Our linebackers did a great job. We did a good job stopping the run all night, but we struggled to stop the pass. What it comes down to is we have to execute better offensively, plain and simple. Defensively we played really well, and I’m proud of those guys.”
Denton is now 3-5 on the season and 1-3 in District 5-4A play.
Senior quarterback Corbyn Koiner led the Hornets with more than 200 yards of total offense, including two passing touchdowns. The Broncos limited senior running back Hunter McDonald to 64 yards, but McDonald came out of the game with an injured arm in the second quarter and did not return.
Denton’s defense kept them within earshot in the first half. Junior safety Michael Husbands’ deflection of a Koiner pass forced a punt on the Hornets’ opening drive.
After the Broncos’ second offensive drive yielded a punt that was returned to their own 40-yard line, the defense held the Hornets at the 6-yard line, where senior kicker Seth Campbell kicked a 23-yard field goal to give the Hornets a 3-0 lead.
With Denton’s offense fizzling in the first half, the pressure began to mount on its defense. However, the defense was able to hold strong again, forcing Azle (6-2, 3-2) into another turnover on downs at the Broncos’ 9-yard line.
Unfortunately, the Broncos punted it back and left too much time on the clock for the Hornets as it took them only four plays to go 58 yards, with Koiner eventually finding senior tight end Nolan Harris wide open for a 16-yard touchdown to give Azle a 10-0 leading heading into halftime.
“It was just a blown coverage,” Atkinson said. “They had some perfect throws and catches. When things are going negative or badly, those are the things that happen. If you’re rolling, those things don’t happen.”
With the Broncos receiving the ball in the second half, it was imperative for them to get some positive momentum in their favor and get points on the scoreboard. After each team exchanged stalled drives to start the half, Denton finally made significant progress into Azle territory. However, a bad snap led to an 8-yard loss. Denton quarterback Cy Ward then rifled a pass to the leaping sophomore wide receiver Key’andre Hearvey, but he couldn’t hang on and the ball fell into the hands of Azle cornerback Jesse Salisbury.
The interception ended the Broncos’ most significant threat and best opportunity to get back in the game.
Hearvey had returned this week after an extended absence due to a broken collarbone.
“They made some plays in the second half where the momentum shifted,” Atkinson said. “We finally got a hold of it in the third quarter, but a tipped ball and an interception; we weren’t strong enough mentally to overcome that.”
Five plays later, senior James Norwood took a pitch from Koiner for a 6-yard touchdown run to put the Hornets up 17-0 and effectively ending Denton’s chances.
Salisbury made his second interception of the game as he picked off Ward’s outside throw, and returned it down to the Broncos’ 8-yard line. Two plays later, Koiner found Harris with a perfectly thrown pass on a fade route to the right side of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown to put Azle up 24-0.
“The biggest thing I said before we left was ‘let’s not even focus on beating the Azle Hornets,’” Atkinson said. “‘Let’s not beat ourselves. If we don’t beat ourselves, then we will be happy with the outcome.’ That’s what we did. We made crucial mistakes. It’s evidence of a young team.”
The Hornets made it 31-0 after senior backup quarterback Brett Harris hooked up with junior Giovanni Augustine on a 30-yard touchdown.
“When you’re starting brand new, there are going to be some growing pains,” Atkinson said. “The idea is to be positive and try and correct the mistakes. We’ve got a good plan and we are going to stay with it. It has proven effective for years and years. We just have to go through some growing pains.”
The Broncos would have rushed for over 100 yards on the ground if it weren’t for several fumbled snaps. The future still looks bright for Denton as sophomore Tre’Von Jackson continued his solid rushing performance with 96 yards on 17 carries. The Broncos also severely cut down on their penalties as they only had three for 22 yards.
“The last couple games we’ve had a lot penalties,” Atkinson said. “Tonight, we controlled ourselves and we didn’t have a bunch of foolish penalties to extend the drive. So, that’s something to build on.”
Azle 31, Denton 0
A — Seth Campbell 23 field goal, 8:39
A — Nolan Harris 16 pass from Corbyn Koiner (Campbell kick) 1:01
A — James Norwood 6 run (Campbell kick) 11:43
A — Harris 9 pass from Koiner (Campbell kick) 8:55
A — Giovanni Augustine 30 pass from Brett Harris (Campbell kick) 4:51
Rushing — A: Michael Perna 1-3, Corbyn Koiner 8-64, Hunter McDonald 12-64, E.J. Salinas 10-23, Giovanni Augustine 1-27, Brett Harris 2-(-2). D: Tre’Von Jackson 17-96, Ryan Daniels 1-2, Deavonte Doucet 6-15, Luke Satterfield 2-(-28), Cy Ward 6-(-15), Jake Cleveland 3-13.
Passing — A: Corbyn Koiner 6-14-0 111, Brett Harris 1-1-0 30. D: Cy Ward 14-24-2 100, Luke Satterfield 1-3-0 7.
Receiving — A: Nolan Harris 5-81, Giovanni Augustine 2-60. D: Deandre Coleman 1-6, Tre’Von Jackson 3-16, Adarian Harris 4-35, Key’andre Hearvey 3-29, Wendell Williams 2-6, Ryan Daniels 2-15.