It’s only Week Two, but it feels safe to say that the Hebron football team won’t have another game quite as strange as the one waged Thursday night against Arlington Martin.
On paper, there was plenty that worked for the Hawks in the first half. The offense generated a pair of lengthy, taxing drives that extended deep into Warrior territory and the defense, which held Martin to minus-30 yards through two quarters, turned in a performance that head coach Brian Brazil said may very well be the best he has ever seen from his program.
And yet, Hebron entered halftime staring at a 24-0 deficit. Wait, what?
Surrendering three non-offensive touchdowns early on, the Hawks mustered a momentary second wind to begin the third quarter. However, the gaudy first-half deficit was too much to overcome against a state-ranked Martin squad, which fended off Hebron for an all-too-obscure 33-14 victory at The University of Texas at Arlington.
“It was one of those games you learn a lot from,” Brazil said. “But it was strange. It was definitely weird.”
The Warriors managed 33 points despite their offense accruing just 131 yards overall and not scoring a single touchdown.
Instead, any trips to the end zone for Martin came courtesy of defense or special teams — the latter striking thrice in the first quarter — starting with Jonathan Carter, who housed the game’s opening kickoff for a 100-yard touchdown. Later in the frame, the Warriors converted a blocked field goal into three points of their own, followed by a blocked punt return touchdown by Morice Blackwell for a 17-0 lead.
“Part of it was just missing assignments on special teams,” Brazil said. “We’d have 10 guys do what they were supposed to do and one guy didn’t, and they exposed us there. So much of it comes down to everyone needing to do their job.”
In the second quarter, Hebron countered with a 15-play drive to advance to the Martin 3-yard line before an errant snap resulted in a 70-yard fumble return touchdown by Mickael Carodine for a 24-0 lead following the potential 14-point swing.
The untimely miscues obscured a brilliant half of defense by the Hawks, who allowed zero yards or less on 10 of Martin’s 12 first-play plays. It wasn’t until midway through the third quarter when Martin clawed its way back into positive yardage.
“Our coaches really prepared the kids well,” Brazil said. “We saw how their quarterback (Zach Mundell) diced up a really good Lake Travis team the week before … and we knew we really had to make sure we contained him, and for the most part I think we did.”
Mundell totaled just 32 yards of offense (72 passing, minus-40 rushing) and Martin overall logged just 131 — more than 200 short of Hebron’s 333 yards accrued, although turning that production into points only shined through during a 14-point third quarter.
The Hawks blitzed the Warriors for two touchdowns across just six plays, with sophomore running back Isaiah Broadway recording a 36-yard rushing touchdown and, following a lost fumble by Martin, a 50-yard touchdown strike from senior Carson Harris to Nick Frazier to cut the deficit to 24-14 with 11:10 remaining the third quarter.
“I credit the kids because they really stayed with it. They didn’t start pointing fingers and really kept their composure throughout the whole thing,” Brazil said. “They never quit and kept battling, and I think that speaks to the character of these kids.”
However, Martin’s defense quashed any further scoring chances, while the Hawks did themselves no favors behind a few self-inflicted maladies as part of nine penalties in the loss.
“The biggest issue was we kept getting ourselves behind the chains, whether it was a false start or a delay of game,” Brazil said. “We just put ourselves in some long situations, plus Arlington Martin is just a really good football team. You can’t spot a team like that 24 points.”
Harris was busy on Thursday, going 19-of-31 through the air for 165 yards and a touchdown alongside a game-high 22 carries for 63 yards. Broadway led all rushers with 82 yards and a score, while Frazier totaled 66 receiving yards.
The Hawks (1-1) look to rise back above .500 at 7 p.m. Friday against Keller Fossil Ridge.
“It was one of those games where I feel we’ll be better down the road for having went through it,” Brazil said. “You don’t like to learn lessons that way, but sometimes you learn them better through the difficult times than the good ones.”