North Mesquite and Richardson each entered Thursday night looking to build momentum heading into their respective district openers next week.
Both teams had their chances, but it was the Eagles who made the best of theirs to claim a 22-6 victory at Mesquite Memorial Stadium.
Richardson picks up its first win of the season to improve to 1-2, while the Stallions fall to 1-3 heading into their 10-6A debut against Horn.
Trailing 15-0 at halftime, the North Mesquite defense did everything it could during the final two quarters to give them a chance. The Stallions limited the Eagles to 55 yards, two first downs and no points in the second half, but it was not enough to alter the outcome.
The Richardson defense had done its job for most of the night, as well, limiting North Mesquite’s chances and delivering a couple of huge turnovers at key moments.
With time winding down, the Stallions finally broke through, as Liam Thornton hooked up with Marcus Yow on a 28-yard completion and then found Cordale Russell for a 29-yard touchdown to draw to within 15-6 with 2:34 left.
North Mesquite missed on the two-point conversion, but felt there was still hope with momentum on its side.
That lasted a matter of seconds, as on the ensuing onside kick attempt, the bounce went over a Stallion player and into the arms of Richardson’s Anthony Vaughan, who caught the ball on the run and raced untouched 57 yards for a backbreaking touchdown to push it back to 22-6.
North Mesquite drove back into Eagle territory, but stalled on fourth down and Richardson was able to run out the clock.
The difference in the game was in the first half, when the Eagles dominated time of possession and made two huge plays.
Richardson set the tone on the opening drive, chewing up nearly seven minutes on a 14-play, 78-yard drive. The first 12 of those were runs, and then when the Stallion defense stiffened, the Eagles converted on fourth-and-11, as Aaron Bertrand threw a jump ball into the end zone and De’Aundre Johnson was able to out-jump two defenders to haul in the 18-yard scoring strike to take a 7-0 lead.
North Mesquite derailed its first drive with bad snaps, but was on the move early in the second quarter, moving down to the Richardson 8. On third down, disaster struck, as the Eagles came with a blitz and Channing Williams picked off a screen pass to thwart the chance.
The teams engaged in a battle of field position, with Richardson getting the edge after pinning the Stallions deep at the 1 and then taking over at the North Mesquite 34 after a short punt.
The Eagles went back to the ground on four consecutive plays, with Bertrand spinning out of one tackle and then getting a nice push from his teammates on a 9-yard touchdown run. Bertrand took it himself on the two-point conversion to give them a 15-0 lead with 5:52 left in the first half.
When the teams got to the break, Richardson held a 16:11-7:49 advantage in time of possession, a 199-46 edge in yards and had run 36 plays compared with 19 for the Stallions.
North Mesquite evened that out in the second half, but it did not translate to points and the Eagles walked away with the road victory.