MANSFIELD — Heading into Saturday’s contest between the nationally ranked DeSoto Eagles and the Arlington Martin Warriors, many didn’t believe the Eagles would trail by 19 points at the half, much less lose by 20 points.
To give credit where credit is due, Martin executed in all three phases and looked like they were in mid-season form. The Warriors defeated the Eagles for the first time in four years, 49-16, at Mansfield’s Vernon Newsom Stadium Saturday.
“We were better than DeSoto today, but I’d say that is a stretch,” Martin head coach Bob Wager said of being in mid-season form. “We’ve got plenty of work to do to get better.”
Martin’s defense forced three turnovers in the first half, thus giving the ball back to its offense for a few scores.
The game’s first points were scored from the boot of Martin kicker Jorge Hinojosa. Hinojosa was perfect from 40 and 41 yards to give the Warriors a 6-0 lead with 1:41 remaining in the first quarter.
Martin’s all-time leading rusher Nick Smith then added to the early lead, capping a 71-yard touchdown drive with a scamper for 11 yards.
On the ensuing drive, DeSoto’s quarterback Tristen Wallace — an Ohio State pledge — led the Eagles to the Martin 30-yard line. On 3rd and 10, Martin’s Trey Brown intercepted Wallace and returned it to midfield.
Following the interception, Martin capitalized yet again with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Eric Walker to Tyler Wilson.
DeSoto should have posted a touchdown before the half, but Brendon Rushing dropped a spot-on pass from Wallace on 4th down play on the Martin 30-yard line.
With a 19-0 lead on DeSoto, no lead is too much for the play making roster the Eagles boast.
Martin started the second half strong with Smith’s second score of the night from three yards out. The 11-play 71-yard drive wasted five minutes of the third frame, giving DeSoto a quarter and a half to attempt a near insurmountable comeback, down 25-0.
With 22 ticks on the clock in the third quarter, DeSoto scored its first touchdown. Wallace dove through the middle of Martin’s defensive front line for a four-yard score. It took the Eagles 35:58 of playing time to light up its side of the scoreboard.
In the fourth quarter, the Warriors began with Walker throwing a costly interception on his DeSoto’s 23-yard line. Two plays later, Martin’s secondary busted its coverage giving Khairi Muhammed a seam up the middle for a 76-yard touchdown catch and run. The score was 32-12 then.
Martin had a 20-point lead, and made a big play on defense to widen the gap. Safety Caleb Russell picked off Wallace and returned it for six points from 33 yards.
DeSoto then responded with another deep score to pat Wallace’s stats when Laviska Shenault Jr. caught a fade route down the right sideline, made a defender miss and outran Russell for the 86-yard score.
“We gave up a few more big plays than we would’ve like there in the second half, and that’s something we’ll have to work on, but overall it was a team win,” Wager said. “Our physical condition is what won the game for us, and I couldn’t be prouder.”
The past three seasons, the Eagles had bested the Warriors, but on a national spotlight, the nationally ranked Eagles dipped their heads, while the Warriors stole the show.