By TOMMY WELLS Special to the Index
HICO – The start of the 2013 season wasn’t exactly the way Joe Kostiha had dreamed of launching his head coaching career at his alma mater, but, then again, Saturday was anything but a normal beginning.
Playing in temperatures that eclipsed 100 degrees, the Dallas Covenant Knights scored 22 unanswered points in the final 5:18 of the second quarter on Saturday afternoon and rolled to a stunning 62-16 rout of Gordon in the opening game of the 10th Annual Hico Super Saturday.
Did we mention Dallas Covenant is the two-time defending Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools’ state champion? And that they return all but one member of last year’s team that upset two-time defending Division I state champion Throckmorton?
The Knights flexed their muscle early in the matchup. After forcing the Longhorns to punt away their first possession, Covenant marched 47 yards in four plays to take the upper hand. Knights’ running back Colby Boozer capped Covenant’s first series by reeling off a 34-yard scoring jaunt.
Covenant was far from through. The Knights’ defense held on a fourth-and-4 play from their own 30 in Gordon’s next series, forcing the Longhorns to turn the ball over on downs. Four plays later, Tyler Doshier pushed his way into the end zone from a yard out to up the score to 14-0.
As a team, Gordon struggled to get its retooled offense in gear in the first 10 minutes of play. The Longhorns, who are attempting to replace several key players from last fall’s state semifinal squad, managed just 41 yards of offense in the first quarter, with 36 of those coming on their third possession, a seven-play march that ended on a failed fourth-down conversion at the Knights’ 24.
Xavier Castaneda helped spark the GHS offense in their third series. He completed passes of 18 and 14 yards to Seth Wheeler and Dylan Burch, respectively.
Covenant, which rolled up 433 total yards of offense, pushed its lead to 22-0 early in the second. Benson Moore capped the Knights’ third possession by hauling in a 5-yard TD pass from Williams Simmons just 36 seconds into the second quarter.
Jacob Wigington delivered the Longhorns’ first big play of the contest from there. After Gordon had returned Covenent’s ensuing kick to its own 35, Humberto Estrada set up the Longhorns’ first TD of the 2013 season by pushing the ball to the 38 with a short run.
One play later, Wigington took a pitch from Wheeler and raced around the right end for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Jeremy Jorgensen tacked on the PAT, pulling the Longhorns to within 22-8 with 8:24 left in the first half.
The wheels came off from there, however. Covenant reeled off TD runs of 10 and 24 yards and then tacked on a 47-yard scoring pass to stretch its lead to 44-8 at the end of the first half.
The Knights continued to build the lead in the third. Covenant opened the second half with an 8-play 62-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 1-yard plunge by Luke Bellers. His TD staked the Knights to a 50-8 lead at the 8:05 mark of the third.
The Longhorns managed to provide a few fireworks of their own moments later. Backed by the play of senior running back Dylan Burch, Gordon one-upped Covenant’s offensive effort on their first possession of the second half by racing 68 yards in three plays.
After Castaneda and Estrada had opened the Longhorns drive by combining for six yards on two runs, Burch gave Longhorn fans reason to cheer when he broke off a 55-yard touchdown romp.
Jorgensen’s ensuing PAT pulled Gordon to within 50-16 with 5:44 left in the third.
Covenant didn’t miss a beat, however. The Knights reeled off back-to-back scores on their next two possessions to close out the game via the 45-point mercy rule.
Gordon will return to action this Friday when they host Stephenville Faith Christian.