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MANSFIELD, Texas — Heading into Saturday’s contest between No. 7 DeSoto (Texas) and Arlington Martin, many didn’t believe the Eagles would trail by 19 points at the half, much less lose by 20 points.
Martin executed in all three phases and looked as it were in midseason form. The Warriors defeated the Eagles for the first time in four years, 49-16, at Mansfield’s Vernon Newsom Stadium as part of the GEICO ESPN High School Kickoff.
“We were better than DeSoto today, but I’d say that is a stretch,” Martin head coach Bob Wager said of being in midseason form. “We’ve got plenty of work to do to get better.”
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Martin’s defense forced three turnovers in the first half, giving the ball back to its offense for a few scores.
The game’s first points were scored by Martin’s kicker. Patrick Grady 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 third-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 a fourth down play on the Martin 30-yard line.
Despite a 19-0 lead, no lead is too much for the playmaking 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 took up five minutes of the third quarter, 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 4-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 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 to make the 32-12.
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 pad 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.”
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