GRAHAM, Texas — Despite the Decatur Eagles powerful offense scoring 60 or more points in half of their regular season games (three of those games to close out the season), it was hard to overlook the traditional dominance of Abilene Wylie.
While most pundits had chalked this up as a win for a Bulldog team destined to return to the state championship game in back-to-back seasons, the Eagles, however, had other plans, topping Wylie 48-34 Friday at Newton Field.
“We didn’t look at pregame predictions. We knew what we could come out here and do,” said Decatur quarterback Wilson Hicks. “We respect Abilene Wylie, but we weren’t looking at pregame predictions; we just came out and executed.”
Decatur’s first lead of the ballgame, however, came in the early portion of the third quarter with a 21-yard pass from Wilson Hicks to Alec Uselton to pull ahead by one. Despite being a closely fought first half, Wylie took a 20-14 lead to the locker room.
“We understand that in a game you’re going to get down,” noted Decatur head coach Mike Fuller. “We got down 14 to nothing, but what we talked about and preached more than you can ever imagine is playing the next play, not letting any other situation dictate what we can do.”
The Bulldogs started out the game strong, jumping out to a quick 14-0 lead with about nine and a half minutes remaining in the opening quarter from 33- and 32-yard touchdown tosses from Gatlin Martin and Evan Cantrell. Decatur would get on the board before the first came to a close, with a 30 yard run by A.J. Martinez; but a pair of field goals kept the Bulldogs ahead at halftime.
Decatur not only edged ahead for the first time in the ballgame to open the third, the Eagles took command of the entire quarter, with an additional touchdown toss from Hicks as well as a 13 yard scramble.
Wylie wasn’t going down without a fight however, as a 26-yard touchdown toss and 1-yard punch from Sam King brought the game back to within one touchdown with each score, generating energy from the Bulldog sideline. The Eagles defense, however, held strong and a 24 yard run by Martinez sealed the deal.
“The defense played great, two games in a row they came out and played great, especially in the second half,” Hicks proclaimed.
The junior signal-caller finished the night with 203 yards and a pair of scores on 20 completions, also adding a pair of touchdowns on the ground with 51 yards. Martinez led the ground game with three scores and 207 yards on 22 carries.
“I didn’t start off like I wanted to, but our O-line did a great job protecting, and A.J. helped with the run game,” recalled Hicks of his performance. “So I was able to open it up to the receivers.”
Wylie’s offense performed well in the loss, namely King’s stellar game with 349 yards and two touchdowns on 16 completions.
The win moves Decatur up to a 7-4 record and advances the Eagles to the area round. They will face off against Andrews, though a venue has yet to be determined as of publishing time. Wylie is eliminated in the opening round for the first time since 2001, but kept their postseason streak going for a 24th consecutive season.
The Bulldogs’ record ends at 6-4, with a 3-1 mark in District 3-4A Division I play.
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