Maybe the Denton Broncos did have a tough, opening District 5-4A schedule. Maybe it was their lack of consistency that led them to losing their first three district games. Either way, the Broncos seemed to be playing from behind.
On Friday, Denton jumped on the Azle Hornets early, came up with crucial turnovers and delivered the most eye-popping defensive plays of the season for their second straight district win as they took down Azle 42-14 at Bronco Field.
“It’s the biggest win we’ve had since we [the coaching staff] have been here and it’s a true testament to our kids for not losing faith and to our coaches for coaching our kids in a positive way,” Denton head coach Kevin Atkinson said. “It’s a great overall program win.”
Although the Hornets (3-5, 1-4 district) led in total yards, it was sophomore Xavier Scott and junior quarterback Christian Rodriguez doing the offense damage for the Broncos. Rodriguez was 15-of-21 passing and two touchdowns, while Scott scored Denton’s first two touchdowns to go along with 62 yards rushing.
“We’re really excited because people keep downing us and saying we aren’t good and stuff,” Scott said. “Tonight, we just showed them that we really are the Denton High and not just DHS anymore. I’ve got to give it to my blocking. If it weren’t for them, I couldn’t run like I did. If we play like we did these last two wins, we should have a chance [for the playoffs].”
Defensively, the Broncos (4-4, 2-3) came up with four turnovers, including two interceptions for touchdowns; none bigger than 40-yard touchdown return by junior defensive back Israel Galvan with 8:19 left in the fourth quarter that gave them a 28-7 lead.
Immediately after that score, the Broncos’ defense came up with a fumble recovery that the offense quickly turned into points as Rodriguez scrambled to his left and found senior running back Deavonte Doucet on the goal line for a 7-yard touchdown.
That gave the Broncos the 35-7 lead with 5:14 left and then came the most exciting play of the night.
With three minutes left, junior defensive back Juan Campos picked off Azle quarterback Jamie King three yards deep in his own end zone and returned it all the way back for a 103-yard touchdown.
“The line of the night was, ‘Stay in; stay in. What are you doing? What are you doing? Go! Go! Go! Go!” Atkinson said. “It was a true testament to our defensive kids getting down the field and blocking. My goodness. He scored because we hustled down the field and helped our teammate and that’s a true mark of a team that’s getting it. I’m proud of them.”
The Broncos had a more than ideal start to the game. After the defense forced a quick three-and-out, it took Denton only seven plays from midfield to strike first blood as Scott avoided a tackle in the backfield and cut left for a 4-yard touchdown that gave Denton a 7-0 lead just 4:17 into the first quarter.
Later, Denton was forced to punt after an offensive pass interference penalty hampered their drive and on the attempted catch of the punt, Denton’s sophomore linebacker Hayden Gray lit up the returner for a fumble that the Broncos recovered at Azle’s 15-yard line.
Scott rushed for 13 yards on first down and punched in his second touchdown of the night on an inside, 3-yard run that gave the Broncos a 14-0 lead with 55 seconds left in the first quarter.
Azle got on the board with junior Dalton Cole’s counter run to the left for a 13-yard touchdown to bring the Hornets within a score at 14-7 with 7:45 left in the first half.
After each team exchanged punts to open the second half, the Broncos seized control. Junior Key’andre Hearvey’s 53-yard catch-and-run gave Denton the ball inside Azle’s 10-yard line before Rodriguez found senior Ke’Von Buris in the right flat for an 8-yard touchdown. That gave the Broncos the 21-7 lead with 3:09 left in the third quarter.
Denton still has a chance at the playoffs and will finish the season at home against Wichita Falls Rider and on the road at Trophy Club Nelson.
“We’re right in the mix and I don’t think this program has been right in the mix in a while, so I’m really proud of them. We’re a good football team, and we have to go out and play like it and see where the cards fall. When you can get your confidence going, you can start making some strides and that’s what we’re doing.”
Denton 42, Azle 14
DN — Xavier Scott 4 run (Michael Husbands kick)
DN — Xavier Scott 3 run (Michael Husbands kick)
AZ — Dalton Cole 13 run (Dylan Tritton kick)
DN — Ke’Von Buris 8 pass from Christian Rodriguez (Michael Husbands kick)
DN — Israel Galvan 40 interception return (Michael Husbands kick)
DN — Deavonte Doucet 7 pass from Christian Rodriguez (Michael Husbands kick)
DN — Juan Campos 103 interception return (Michael Husbands kick)
AZ — E.J. Salinas 9 run (Dylan Tritton kick)
Rushing — AZ: E.J. Salinas 10-60, Jamie King 9-35, Dalton Cole 3-31, Chase Smith 8-22, Bryce Gum 1-9, Demetrius Hutcherson 1-7, Tyler Albers 1--5, DN: Xavier Scott 21-62, Ke’Von Buris 2-22, Deavonte Doucet 6-19, Deandre Coleman 1-12, Deontrae Murray 2-3, Cy Ward 3--6, Christian Rodriguez 2--12.
Passing — AZ: Jamie King 12-26-2-133, DN: Christian Rodriguez 15-21-0-161, Cy Ward 2-5-0-15.
Receiving — AZ: Dalton Cole 3-33, Tyler Albers 3-30, Matt Delprincipe 3-30, E.J. Salinas 2-22, Trevor Boiles 1-18, DN: Key’andre Hearvey 3-63, Ke’Von Buris 6-54, Deandre Coleman 4-26, Adrian Harris 3-26, Deavonte Doucet 1-7.