SWEETWATER, TX — The Wall Hawks (10-1) traveled to Sweetwater to take on the Idalou Wildcats (9-3) on Friday, Nov. 25, at 1 p.m. for the third round of the 2022 3A Division 2 UIL Texas Football State Championships. Cold temperatures, wind, and rain added to the challenge of a tough Wildcats squad that played tough all game.
Wall went on a promising first drive, eating 6:31 off the clock before stalling at Idalou’s 28-yard line. Faced with a 4th down and three yards to go, Coach Guy went for it on 4th down. The Wildcats’ interior defensive line penetrated the backfield and stopped the Hawks for a loss. The score remained 0-0.
The Hawks' stalwart defense went to work and smothered the Wildcats’ first possession. Wall found themselves behind the line of scrimmage on third down to tackle Idalou for a loss. Wall forced a punt, and the offense took over at Wall’s 24-yard line. Watch the Wall Hawk Defense smother the Idalou Wildcats in the 3rd quarter - a sack, interception and fumble recovery.
Logan Thomas burst through the Wildcats on first down, breaking two tackles in the process, on his way to a 30-yard gain. On the next play, Gunnar Dilliard followed up the massive gain with one of his own. He broke through the middle of the defense and ran to the far edge for 27 yards. Inside the 20-yard line, Nathan Pepper carried the ball to the two. Idalou stepped up and stifled the Hawks on three straight plays to force 4th and goal at the 4-yard line. Coach Guy gambled again, and it paid off. Matthew Steen took a toss to the left and outran the Wildcats to the edge for a 4-yard touchdown. Wall took the lead at the end of the 1st quarter, 7-0. Watch:
Wall’s defense had to step up after forcing another punt. The Hawks muffed the punt, and the Wildcats recovered at the Wall 44-yard line. Idalou drove down to the 15-yard line, but the drive stalled. Wall then blocked the field goal attempt, and the score stayed 7-0 with seven minutes left in the half.
The Hawks fumbled again on the first play of their next drive. Idalou recovered, and the Wildcats had the ball inside Wall’s 25-yard line. The defense answered the challenge once again and sacked Idalou on third down to force a 4th and goal at the 33-yard line. Idalou tossed up a Hail Mary, but it fell incomplete.
Wall marched down the field with less than three minutes to go in the first half. Uncharacteristic of the Hawks, Dillard completed three passes on the drive to help push the Hawks into field goal range. The Hawks kicked a field goal with two seconds left in the half and headed to the locker room up 10-0.
Wall kicked off the second half to Idalou. The Wildcats failed to gain any ground and after three shunted downs punted the ball away. The Hawks wasted no time scoring again as Nathan Pepper broke away from Idalou and outran everyone to the end zone for a 39-yard touchdown run. Wall led early in the 2nd half, 17-0.
Wall’s defense withstood a 4th down attempt on Idalou’s ensuing possession. Near the Wildcats’ 40-yard line, the Hawks forced a 4th down and 1-yard. Idalou attempted to push the ball up the middle, but Wall’s defense denied them. After the Hawks took over on downs, Wall marched 36 yards on 10 plays and scored another touchdown. Dillard found Ryan Allen on an out route on 4th and goal from the 11-yard line. Allen caught the ball just inside the left pylon for a touchdown. Wall led at the end of the 3rd quarter, 24-0.
The 4th quarter devolved into nothing but turnovers as the weather worsened. The rain picked up and made it hard to hold on to the football. Wall coughed up the ball twice, and Idalou fumbled once. The Hawks also gained two interceptions of their opponents of their season’s total as the Wildcats became desperate.
The Hawks added one more touchdown before the game ended. Wall dominated Idalou on both sides of the ball all day and won the Regional Semi-Final, advancing to the 4th round of the 2022 UIL Texas High School 3A Division II Playoffs, 30-0.
The Wall Hawks (11-1) will face the Canadian Wildcats (11-2) in the quarterfinals of the state tournament. The date, time, and location are still to be determined. Wall is two wins away from a State Championship Game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.