ROWLETT FOOTBALL ERNEST THOMAS

Rowlett wide receiver Ernest Thomas elevates for a catch during the Eagles’ 35-33 victory over Sachse on Thursday at Homer B. Johnson Stadium.

A year ago, Rowlett and Sachse engaged in a wild back-and-forth affair that came down to the wire.

The Eagles needed to convert a two-point conversion with 21 seconds left in order to tie it, but the Mustangs held and claimed a 42-40 victory.

It was a loss that stung extra hard when just a few minutes later, Rowlett learned that it was the odd man out in a three-way tie for third place and its streak of 14 consecutive playoff appearances came to an end.

On Thursday, the script was flipped and it was Sachse who was in need of a two-point conversion with the game on the line.

The Eagles earned a measure of revenge, as the pass fell incomplete and Rowlett was able to recover the onside kick and run out the clock for a 35-33 victory at Homer B. Johnson Stadium.

Rowlett claims the rivalry’s Hammer Trophy for the first time since 2015 and improves to 2-0 in 9-6A, leaving them as the lone undefeated team in the district.

The Mustangs (2-2, 2-1 in 9-6A) never led, but also refused to go away.

The Eagles appeared to be in control when Taiwan Edwards intercepted a pass and on the very next play, Tre Carr hit Ernest Thomas for a 26-yard touchdown pass to give them a 35-20 lead with only 5:06 left.

Sachse came right back, as Kori Jones returned the ensuing kick 60 yards and five plays later, Jhett Creek made an outstanding juggling catch on a 12-yard pass from Alex Orji to draw to within 35-27 with 3:12 left.

The Mustang defense did its job by forcing a three-and-out and the offense went right back to work.

Orji hooked up with Tyler Williams for a 47-yard gain and then did the rest with his legs, weaving through the defense for a 20-yard touchdown run to draw to within 35-33 with 1:42 left.

With no timeouts, Sachse had no choice but to go for two, but the pass fell incomplete.

The Mustangs attempted an onside kick, but JaCory Brown recovered for the Eagles and that was it.

Carr shook off a slow start to complete 11-of 21 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns and added a score on the ground. D’Wonyae Newton rushed for a score, while Ernest Thomas had five grabs for 121 yards and a touchdown.

Orji did not complete a pass until the second quarter, but heated up as the game went on, finishing 17-of-29 for 228 yards and three touchdowns and also rushing 16 times for 129 yards and a pair of scores.

The defenses controlled the action early on. Rowlett held Sachse a yard short on a fourth-and-three, but James Boyd then came through with an interception for the Mustangs. On the very next play, Sachse coughed it up and Jordan Deluna pounced on it to give the Eagles the ball back.

Rowlett broke the stalemate late in the first quarter, embarking on a 11-play, 75-yard drive, which included a trio of third-down conversions, that Carr capped with a 5-yard keeper to take a 7-0 lead.

The Mustangs had managed only two first downs through the first 17 minutes, but finally started developing some rhythm.

Orji and Kori Jones moved the team down the field on the ground, and then facing fourth-and-18, Orji found Elijah Aimes for a 33-yard touchdown pass to tie it at 7-7.

The Eagles never let Sachse hold on to the momentum for long, as on its next drive, they quickly marched down the field and Carr hooked up with Hector Soto for a 18-yard scoring strike to make it 14-7 with just 34 seconds left in the half.

The Mustangs opened the second half strong. Despite having a 77-yard run by Orji nullified by a penalty, they moved 95 yards in 11 plays, again converting on fourth down when Orji hit Jagger Roland for a 12-yard score to knot it at 14-14.

Sachse was poised to have a chance to take the lead after forcing a punt, but fumbled, with Johnny Ray recovering for Rowlett, and that led to a 10-yard touchdown run by Newton as it went back ahead, 21-14, with 2:19 left in the third quarter.

The teams combined for 33 points in a wild fourth quarter.

The Eagles opened the first two-score lead of the night when Carr found Dorian Burnett, who turned a short route into a 56-yard touchdown to push it to 28-14 with 10:17 left.

The Mustangs continued to hurt themselves with penalties, but they also continued to deliver on fourth down, as Orji converted a fourth-and-2 with a 32-yard scoring run, but a crucial extra point was missed, leaving the deficit at 28-20 with 8:03 remaining.

For continued coverage on the local sports scene, follow Devin Hasson on Twitter: @DevinHasson

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