Pass-Happy Horses slaughter Hawgs 55-12; Hackebeil throws for 301 yards & 5TDs

If you were in the popcorn line or had to go to the restroom during the second quarter of Friday’s 55-12 Warhorse victory, chances are you missed at least one if not more of the six touchdowns scored by Devine during their 41-point frame.
The Horses turned a tight 7-0 lead into a 48-7 halftime thumping in a matter of 8:42 off the north end scoreboard at Warhorse Stadium. Devine scored 5 touchdowns on pass plays, and Mason Martinez turned a Crystal City fumble into a 53-yard scoop-n-score with only 0:10 seconds left in the first half.
In the massive second quarter, Devine quarterback Brady Hackebeil completed 5 of 5 passes for 261 yards and all 5 went for touchdowns. He connected with Gabriel Esquibel twice on completions of 25 and 51-yards, while hitting Nate Ramirez for a 55-yarder, Ethan Santos also for 55-yards, and Hayden DuBose for 75-yards.
Head Coach Paul Gomez started his post-game briefing saying, “It was a great game on Friday! Boys played great and executed the game plan on both sides of the ball. We wanted to make the last home game for our seniors a special one and we did just that! It was definitely a fun night. Everyone got to play and that’s always a good thing!”
Devine scored on their second possession of the game after forcing a three-and-out punt by Crystal City. The Javelina punter did not quite get all of it on his 10-yard punt that gave the Horses the ball on the 25-yard line.
Three plays later, Santos popped it in from 13-yards out with 1:42 to go in the first quarter. Caden Hanson booted the point after, and Devine took the 7-0 lead into their monster second quarter.
The first of the six touchdowns came on a Hackebeil to Esquibel 25-yard completion. Esquibel had lined up as a wing on the right side, and was left uncovered as he gathered the perfectly thrown pass for Devine’s second touchdown of the evening. Hanson kicked the PAT for the 14-0 lead with 8:52 on the clock.
Early on, things were definitely swinging the Warhorse’s way.
“I think we did some really good things offensively,” Gomez said matter of factly. “They had everyone up close trying to stop the run and once we realized that then we knew that we could hurt them in the passing game. We took what they gave us.”
Esquibel caught his second touchdown four minutes later as Devine’s defense forced another punt. Hackebeil dropped back at the Warhorse 40-yard line, stepped up to avoid a rushing Javelina lineman, and launched the ball from his own 45 to Esquibel who waited for the ball to come down to him at the 15, taking it in for the three-touchdown lead.
Devine shut down Crystal’s offense once again, taking possession of the ball at their 45-yard line. Again, Hackebeil, sprinting to the right around the 40, let loose on a pass that found Ramirez at the 25. Ramirez got behind the Javelina defense on a post pattern to haul in the third Warhorse touchdown with 2:36 to go before the break.
Crystal City finally got on the board with a long play of their own. The Javelina running back broke through the middle of the line of scrimmage to go 73-yards untouched to close the gap to 28-6.
Devine scored the last three touchdowns of the quarter with the first coming on a 55-yard slip-screen from Hackebeil to Santos who had lined up as the #2 receiver on the left side of the formation to begin the play.
Santos took a couple of hard steps downfield before coming back to catch the football at the line of scrimmage in the middle of the field. Santos broke through the seam, taking it up the Warhorse sideline for the touchdown and a 35-6 lead.
Crystal City’s punter was obviously warmed up by now as he got off a decent punt that put the Warhorse offense to work at their own 25.
On the first play from scrimmage after the punt, Hackebeil connected with DuBose on a middle screen for what turned out to be a 75-yard touchdown reception. DuBose outsprinted four Javelina defenders on his way to bumping the Devine lead to 42-6 with only 0:35 to go before intermission.
Crystal City looked to score before the break and it wound up coming back to bite them in the rear. DuBose rushed the Javelina quarterback who fumbled the ball while trying to avoid pressure. Martinez scooped up the loose ball, returning it 53-yards to put an end to Crystal City’s second quarter nightmare.
Devine took a 48-6 lead midway through the game, and tagged on a Ramirez 1-yard run in the third quarter for good measure.
Crystal City scored the game’s final touchdown with 4:08 left in the fourth quarter, but the damage had already been done as Devine went on to the 55-12 victory.
Tongue in cheek
Passing for over 300 yards does not happen often for a Warhorse team. They proved Friday that they can use that as a weapon when needed, however.
“Regardless of what some may think, we do work on our passing game at practice,” Gomez said, trying not to crack a smile. “Every week a defense will give you certain areas to attack in the passing game and you just have to concentrate on that. We knew there was a chance that Crystal would bite hard on play action and would go man-to-man in some passing situations where we thought our athletes could take advantage of it.”
Seven of eight completions in the passing department, 301 yards, and 5 touchdowns through the air erased any doubt of Devine’s abilities in the pass-and-catch department.
Nice options
“Our receivers ran good routes and Brady Hackebeil did a great job making the throws,” Gomez said about the ball distribution amongst his talented offensive players. “Pass protection from the O-line was great all night. We all know that we have athletic running backs and we have done a great job spreading the wealth in the running game. These guys can all catch the ball as well, and we just try to put them in situations where they can just be athletes and make plays in space. We know what Ethan Santos can do but Friday night you also got to see how Gabe Esquibel, Hayden DuBose, Aiden Zapata, and Xavier Contreras can also make plays. With Mason Martinez and Peyton Carr already proving that they can make plays in the passing game, you know it’s good to have options.”
With the offense scoring at will in the second quarter, then passively shutting things down for the most part in the second half, Crystal City had extra possessions that could have turned into more than the 12 points Devine’s defense surrendered.
“Defensively we were pretty solid all night,” Gomez stated. “We were aggressive and gang-tackled well, which is what we have proven to do weekly. We gave up a long run off of a bad read by our defense, but overall we had a really good night defensively. I really like where the defense is at this point. I think we are figuring things out and starting to trust our scheme more and getting better defensively every day. Coach Villa had a good game plan going in, and our boys executed it well.”
Farewell, for now
The season is not over by any means, but this group of seniors played their last meaningful game at Warhorse Stadium last Friday night.
“It was the last home game for our seniors and it was definitely a special night. We love this group of seniors. There are not many but they have made a great, positive impact on our program.”
Up next
The Horses secured second place in District 15-4A and will take on Ingleside in Bi-District Friday night at Harlandale Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:00pm.
“Now it’s time for the playoffs,” an excited Gomez stated. “In the playoffs if a team can fight to get that 1st win then you never know what might happen. Anybody can make a run because everybody to this point is good. So if a good team gets on a roll then you never know.”
Devine finished 8-2 overall and 4-1 against district competition.
By Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer