It was not always pretty, but Horn had no complaints about the outcome in the end on Friday.
Ben Wyatt rushed for four touchdowns and the Jaguar defense swarmed North Mesquite in the second half as they rallied for a 28-14 victory at Mesquite Memorial Stadium.
Horn (3-6, 2-3 in 11-6A) gets back on the winning track and sets the stage for a showdown with Tyler Lee next week in a winner-take-all battle for the district’s final playoff spot.
After a back-and-forth first half that saw the Jaguars twice fall behind before coming back to take a 21-14 lead at the break, the defenses took center stage in the second half.
Horn took control at the line of scrimmage and a Stallion offense that had found some success early was unable to rediscover that rhythm.
North Mesquite ran 36 plays in the second half, 26 of which went for zero gain or negative yardage, including eight sacks. The Jaguars limited them to five first downs and 56 total yards, with 22 of those in the final minute, and their seven drives ended with four punts, a fumble, an interception and a turnover on downs.
The Stallion defense matched that effort early on, but Horn then got a spark from an unexpected source.
Quarterback Davazea Gabriel had been their best weapon in the first half, gaining 156 yards on only eight carries, but he was injured early in the third quarter and Braylen Monroe came on in relief.
Horn had completed just one pass up until that point, but Monroe has able to hit Sir’Elston Hill on a 29-yard completion to convert third-and-long.
Though the drive did not end with points, the Stallions had to think about the pass and it opened things up for Wyatt, who weaved through the defense on a 46-yard touchdown run with 9:04 left in the fourth quarter to finally give the Jaguars some breathing room with a 28-14 lead.
North Mesquite was certainly not out of it, but Horn stood firm and an interception by Evan Williams put the finishing touches on the victory.
In addition to Gabriel, Wyatt was also over the century mark with 21 carries for 103 yards and the four scores.
North Mesquite quarterback Liam Thornton completed 17-of-35 passes for 178 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Kamaury Thompson, who had seven grabs for 109 yards.
It was that duo that opened the scoring when Thornton found Thompson alone behind the defense for a 39-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Horn came right back with a eight-play, 65-yard drive, all on the ground. Gabriel set them up with a 34-yard run down to the 1 and Wyatt finished it to tie it up.
The Stallions regained the lead at 14-7 on a 25-yard scoring strike from Thornton to Thompson on the first play of the second quarter.
But North Mesquite had no early answers for Gabriel and his scrambling ability.
On third-and-11, he raced 40 yards to the 4 and Wyatt scored on the next play to tie it up.
Then with time winding down in the half, Gabriel got free for a 34-yard gain to once again set up Wyatt, this time from a yard out to take a 21-14 lead with 15 seconds left before halftime.
Horn would only score once in the second half, but that was one more than they allowed as they walked away with the win.