JUSTIN — Junior Key’andre Hearvey’s touchdown with less than three minutes left in the game put Denton within a score of Trophy Club Nelson and breathed hope into a persistent Broncos team that just wouldn’t quit.
The Broncos’ defense held for a punt and senior Cy Ward found Hearvey for a long fourth-down conversion with less than 90 seconds left that gave Denton a few more cracks at a game-tying touchdown.
Senior Adarian Harris nearly pulled down the clutch touchdown in double-coverage two plays later, but he couldn’t complete the catch all the way to the ground and Ward was unable to create with Nelson’s defensive pressure panting down his neck as the Broncos fell 28-21 in the final game of the season on Friday night at Northwest ISD Stadium.
“With Key’andre on fourth-and-long, everybody looked me thinking I would pick a senior to throw the last ball to, but I said, ‘You’re hot; we’ve got to ride you,’” Denton head coach Kevin Atkinson said. “We had the most awesome play set up, but we couldn’t get the chains set up and they sniffed out our trick play. It would have been huge. They saw it and got a timeout before we could get it snapped.”
Hearvey, the lone starting wide receiver returning next season, finished the game with 109 yards and a touchdown on seven catches.
“I saw that [we] really wanted this win and it’s sad that we didn’t get it because our seniors worked so hard to get it, and we just came up short,” Hearvey said. “Adarian Harris is probably one of the greatest outside receivers I’ve ever played with, and Deandre [Coleman] and Ke’Von [Buris] are the most explosive inside receivers I’ve ever played with.”
The Broncos outgained Bobcats in total yards 301-157, with a majority of those yards coming in the fourth quarter during their spirited comeback.
“The [defense] did a phenomenal job,” Atkinson said. “I thought our defense really gave a valiant effort and we went three-and-out a lot. We didn’t give them any rest. They took a lot of snaps, and hats off to our defensive coaches and kids because they could have folded and they didn’t.”
If there was one formation or set of plays the Broncos could have covered better, it would have been the connection between Bobcats quarterback Preston Haire and fullback Hayden Sanders.
Haire and Sanders combined for touchdown plays of 19, 18 and 16 yards; none more seemingly back-breaking than the 16-yard touchdown with 7:58 left in the game that gave the Bobcats a 28-7 lead.
Denton wasn’t fazed by the quick score and answered less than three minutes later with a 1-yard touchdown run by sophomore Xavier Scott.
Still two possessions down, the Broncos needed an extra possession and got one as they recovered their onside kick at the Bobcats’ 47-yard line.
It took Ward just five plays to find Hearvey for a 19-yard TD in double coverage to put them in reach of stealing a win away late.
“I’m just proud [because] it looked pretty bleak for a long time,” Atkinson said. “We couldn’t get things going and we were out of sync offensively. They were kind of manhandling us up front, and we couldn’t get the running game started. We weren’t very good at the passing game either. It was a chance to fold big time. I’m just proud because when you stand here and you think about one year ago to where we are now — it’s just a one-game difference at 4-6, but it feels like a football team I’m really proud of, the work they put in.”
The Broncos (4-6, 2-5 District 5-4A) sprang out of the opening gates with as ideal a start as they’ve had all season as their defense held the Bobcats to a three-and-out. From their own 22-yard line, the Broncos put together a 12-play drive in which they converted three third downs and culminated with a 1-yard inside touchdown run by senior Deavonte Doucet that gave Denton the 7-0 lead with 5:37 left in the first quarter.
Two long passes by Haire and several runs allowed the Bobcats (8-2, 5-2) to march 75 yards for a game-tying touchdown with a minute left in the quarter, as Haire connected with Sanders for a 19-yard touchdown.
Later, Haire found Sanders for an 18-yard catch-and-run score, their second connection of the half, which gave the playoff-bound Bobcats a 14-7 lead with 9:53 left in the first half.
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.
Trophy Club Nelson 28, Denton 21
Trophy Club Nelson
DN — Deavonte Doucet 1 run (Michael Husbands kick)
TN — Hayden Sanders 19 pass from Preston Haire (Parker McCabe kick)
TN — Hayden Sanders 18 pass from Preston Haire (Parker McCabe kick)
TN — Preston Haire 1 run (Parker McCabe kick)
TN — Hayden Sanders 16 pass from Preston Haire (Parker McCabe kick)
DN — Xavier Scott 1 run (Michael Husbands kick)
DN — Key’andre Hearvey 28 pass from Cy Ward (Michael Husbands kick)
Rushing — DN: Deandre Coleman 5-46, Deavonte Doucet 7-29, Xavier Scott 11-28, Cy Ward 11--14, TN: Jordan Ortiz 7-59, Courtney Miles 18-35, Preston Haire 4--12.
Passing — DN: Cy Ward 23-37-0-217, TN: Preston Haire 8-17-0-127.
Receiving — DN: Key’andre Hearvey 7-109, Ke’Von Buris 6-48, Deavonte Doucet 1-19, Adrian Harris 3-18, Deandre Coleman 5-14, Xavier Scott 1-9, TN: Hayden Sanders 3-53, Gage Vines 1-41, Lucas Murray 1-18, Esteban Ortega 1-11, Jordan Diamond 1-4, Courtney Miles 1-0.